History of the Universe

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Science 350 ya

Mathematics, ideas and technology together led to the invention of science in about 1650. Science is a way of understanding the world, but the method can be used to solve almost any problem. The method is as follows:

The first thing to do is to realize that there is a problem.

You then explore the problem, looking at and measuring things, looking for patterns, for things which stay the same while other things change, or for things which change in a regular way. Scientists call these patterns laws of science. Usually you need some mathematics to state the law.

This exploration will, if you are lucky, lead to an understanding of what is really happening underneath the things you can see. Often this involves a new idea, which scientists call a theory. The theory must explain the laws. Inventing theories is a highly creative part of science. A scientist is every bit as creative as an artist or a composer.

The theory must now be put to the test. (This is where the Greeks made their mistake--they did not test their theories.) You test a theory by using it to make a prediction: if your theory is true, what else will happen? It needs a lot of imagination to find a prediction which can be tested.

Now you do an experiment to test the prediction. So you are back to looking and measuring.

If your predicted law proves to be true, then you can be a bit happier with your theory. If your theory explains every law in that area of science then you can be very happy with it. Notice however that any theory might be shown to be wrong at any time by somebody finding a law it cannot explain! Science changes and old theories are replaced by new ones, all the time. Science does not tell us the truth; it just tells us the latest theories about things. (The same is true of this website).

Around this time scientific clubs were formed where laws, theories and experiments were discussed. People started to print scientific websites and journals and the findings of science spread round Europe during the next 100 years.

Around 1750 the little ice age reached its coldest.

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