What's the Definition of Science?
The word “science” may bring to mind many images: white lab coats and Petrie dishes, an anthropologist on a dig site, equations on a classroom chalkboard, analyzing the factors in brain development, even an astronomer gazing through a telescope. So, what is science about? Whats the definition of science? Science is all of these things. It is all around us, from the scale of subatomic particles to the expanse of the universe.
What makes science unique is that it is more than information printed in textbooks. Science is a mindset. It is a systematic way to observe the physical and natural world around us. Regardless of educational level or current science knowledge, anyone can all think like a scientist. Keep watching. By the end of this video, you too can be a scientist.
Science is part of everyone’s everyday life
What science is – what is science about
What, exactly, is science and how do we define it? As it turns out, science is quite difficult to precisely define. In fact, philosophers have been arguing about it for decades! The challenge is that the term “science” applies to a surprisingly broad spectrum of human endeavors, including discovering fossils, developing nanochips, analyzing social interactions and language, investigating the structure of an atom, and probing the lifecycle of narwals.
To home in on a definition, we need to look at key characteristics of all these examples of science. What characteristics do they all share? Let’s explore the commonality of all fields of science.
‘Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge’
1. Science studies the natural and physical world around us.
The physical world includes the physical components of the universe around us. These are the tangible and measurable things such as atoms, people, ecosystems, volcanos, oceans, planets, stars, and galaxies.
The natural world around us includes the natural forces at work on the physical world, including gravity, friction, magnetism, and electricity. These are observable, but not physically tangible.
Science, therefor, does not include anything that is not tangible and/or measurable. While worthy of study, beliefs, religion, supernatural forces, and anything outside the rules that govern the physical and natural world fall outside the realm of science.
'The important thing is never to stop questioning.' Albert Einstein
2. Science is a process.
Science aims to explain and understand the natural and physical world. To do so we need to ask questions. Many, many questions. In this sense, you’ve probably been a scientist your whole life. Have you ever wondered how a battery works, been curious why some people are more prone to mosquito bites, picked up a leaf and questioned the tree species, googled why rainbows form, or pondered why salt and sugar dissolve in water? This childlike fascination with questioning everything around us is the key to understanding the world around us.
As scientists we are continually asking questions
As scientists we are continually asking questions. Those questions will lead to more questions. And those questions will lead to even more questions. The key is asking the right questions. This is why we especially need imagination in science. Some of the greatest scientists asked just the right questions.
What makes science unique is the way in which we ask our questions. Science is built in a very systematic way. It uses logical thinking to explain why things work or how things happen, and this logical thinking is based on evidence gathered through observation and experiment. Slowly and surely, science comes up with explanations called theories. These theories mesh with bigger theories to make increasingly more comprehensive accounts of the world around us. This way in which we ask questions in a formal science setting is called the Scientific Method.
So, for example, since ancient times there have been theories on our location in space. Eventually, Johannes Kepler's ideas about the planets sweeping through space was build from these theories. Galileo's observations of how falling objects hurtle toward Earth further built on Kepler’s theory. Eventually, Isaac Newton's comprehensive "universal" theory of gravity was built on these smaller theories. Newton's ideas, in turn, became part of Albert Einstein’s wider explanation of gravity, known as the general theory of relativity.
Science is a jigsaw puzzle and the theories are the pieces. As different theories gradually lock together, they give us an ever-expanding picture of how our world works.
Click here to read more about the scientific method. We even have a dedicated Scientific Method video for those wanting an in-depth exploration into the methodology.
3. Science is a body of knowledge
The knowledge base that is built by science is always open to revision as more questions are asked, and new discoveries made as a result. No scientific idea is ever once-and-for-all “proven”. This is because scientists are constantly asking new questions, seeking new evidence, which can cause us to question our current understandings. Ideas that we fully accept today may be advanced, modified or even rejected in light of new evidence discovered tomorrow.
Science is ongoing. Science is continually refining and expanding our knowledge of the universe. As our knowledge base expands, it leads to new questions for future investigation. Science will never be “finished.”
Science is a global human endeavor. People all over the world participate in the process of science. And you can too
Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and physical world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.
So, Whats the Definition of Science?
SCIENCE DEFINE…. Science is the study of the natural and physical world in a systematic way by asking questions. Science is continually evolving in the collectively accepted body of knowledge. Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and physical world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.
We can all be scientists.