Nature of Science

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When did Science begin?

Science began even before civilizations were formed! Many thousands of years ago people tried to explain why the sun rises and sets in a particular location or why the moon changes shape. They studied the habits of animals so they could hunt them down. They studied plants which could be used as medicine. They studied seasons and how to adapt to them. They discovered fire and then iron and learnt how to make tools. They acquired all this basic knowledge about nature around them. From these prehistoric days began the understanding of our universe and the beginning of the progress of science!

Early civilizations continued the progress to learn more about the physical universe and to apply it in their daily lives. The ancient Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Mayans, Indians, Arabs and Greeks, all contributed in so many different ways to the development of science.

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Here are some early examples from those early days until the Middle Ages –

  • They invented Numeralsto count and record transactions
  • They relied on Astronomy to keep time and decide crop plantations
  • They applied Geometry to measure land and build pyramids
  • They discovered plants and herbs to make Medicine for disease prevention
  • They built Scientific Models for the motions of heavenly bodies
  • They developed several Theories about how the universe works

The march of science – from the Giza pyramid in Egypt to the Louvre pyramid in France

Some of the greatest scientific minds of the ancient era were – Aristotle, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and many more philosophers and thinkers. Their pursuits grew from natural curiosity and thought processes to gradually become an academic disciplinenamed “Science”.

How did Modern Science begin?

Modern science as we know it today started with a Scientific Revolution during the 1500s.Renowned scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Leonardo da Vinci established many important discoveries and theories –

  • Copernicus correctly established that the sun is the center of our universe, overturning the earlier wrongly-established thinking that the earth was the center
  • Galileo used the telescope to chart the heavens mathematically
  • Newton discovered gravity and established the laws of motion
  • William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood
  • da Vinci made important observations in many fields including human anatomy, biology, and the physics of light

All these discoveries and inventions paved the way for the Age of Reason –scientists and thinkers insisted on the use of rationality and reason to determine the truth. Many laws and rules for working in science came into existence which we follow even today.(See also: Scientific Inquiry)

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(L to R: Science in the Middle Ages; the Age of Reason (a depiction); Deep Space – a frontier of Modern Science)

Where do we use Science today?

There are many fields of science in which scientists continue to form theories, make new discoveries, and inventions. They can mainly be classified as –

  • Physical sciences –astronomy, chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology
  • Life sciences – botany, zoology, anatomy, physiology, genetics, medicine
  • Social sciences – anthropology, archaeology, economics, psychology, sociology

Our world is built on the principles of science. Science is applied in almost all industries and offers exciting opportunities for thousands of budding, curious, youngsters in several industries such as –

  • Aerospace (aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, space exploration)
  • Agriculture (fishing, forestry, genetic engineering)
  • Computing (computer software, artificial intelligence, cryptography, internet)
  • Engineering (chemical, electrical, mechanical, computers)
  • Energy (nuclear, wind, solar)
  • Health (biotechnology, medicine, genetics)
  • Industry (machines, manufacturing, robotics)
  • Transport (automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, rail)

There are always exciting times in the fields of science!

Check Point

  1. The progress of science began –
    1. In the 1500s
    2. During the age of reasoning
    3. Long before civilization began
    4. In modern days
  2. The Age of Reason began the insistence on the use of ______ and ______ to determine the ______.
  3. Which of these is NOT a field of science?
    1. Anthropology
    2. Chemistry
    3. Literature
    4. Sociology
    5. Meteorology
  4. Science is applied to which of the following industries?
    1. Engineering
    2. Health
    3. Energy
    4. Aerospace
    5. All of the above

Answer Key

  1. c) Long before civilization began
  2. Rationality, Reason, Truth
  3. c) Literature
  4. e) All of the above

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