Sunday, January 14, 2001

Science 101: The Basics

Scientific terms:
Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact to explain an action or set of actions. It is accepted to be true and universal, and can be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. They don't really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true. Examples: Law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hook's law of elasticity.

Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observations made. It is a rational, logical explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what has been observed, but not been proved. Almost all hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation and continued observation.

Theory: A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains a whole series of related phenomena.

Any questions at all?

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