The Main Branches of Science

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  • 0:00 The Branches of Science
  • 0:41 Physical Sciences
  • 1:48 Life Sciences
  • 2:58 Earth Sciences
  • 4:26 Combination Sciences
  • 5:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we'll identify the different branches of science. We'll learn about physical, life, and earth science and how these branches can interact with each other.

The Branches of Science

You hear that someone is a scientist, and what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it someone wearing a lab coat and blowing stuff up? If so, then your first thought is of a physical scientist. There are two other main groups of scientists: ones who do things like watch the growth patterns of a zebra or figure out what is best for our bodies to eat (life scientists), and ones who take on tasks of exploring the ocean floor or predicting the weather (earth scientists).

So, the main branches of science are the physical sciences, the life sciences, and the earth sciences. Let's take a closer look at each of these.

Physical Sciences

There are just three subsets in the physical sciences: chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Each of these looks at the physical aspects of how things happen. These sciences often still look at life and Earth, but they are interested in physically what is happening within each of these topics.

Chemistry is the study of matter at the chemical level. In chemistry we study individual elements and how they react with each other. We study what chemicals make up matter and what can cause that matter to react with other matter.

Physics is the study of matter in the perspective of energy and motion. In physics we study how matter reacts with energy. We study what causes energy and how that affects the matter all around us (including ourselves).

Astronomy is the study of the world outside of this world. It is the study of space. It uses both knowledge of chemistry and physics to better understand what is happening out there, like what chemicals make up stars and how those chemicals will eventually react. By knowing how energy works, we can measure the speed of a planet and understand what kind of gravity it will have.

Life Sciences

The life sciences, which can also be called biology, have many subsets. The most common ones include botany, zoology, genetics, human biology, nutrition, and medicine. These sciences explore how different life forms work.

Botany is the study of the plant kingdom. It studies what helps and hinders plant growth, investigating both natural and human-controlled growth. It also researches the habitats that plants grow in and the classifications of plants.

Zoology is the study of the animal kingdom, discovering how animals live. This includes how animals interact with each other as well as the growth, health, and life span of the animals.

Genetics studies genes and heredity. Genetic scientists may focus on animals, plants, or humans. Example topics are why a child looks like a parent and how to make an apple tree grow larger apples.

The other main subsets of the life sciences focus on human life. Medicine studies diseases, as well as their treatment and prevention. Nutrition examines human health based on diet, and human biology studies how we live, reproduce, and die.

Earth Sciences

There are many different subsets of earth sciences. These include geology, paleontology, meteorology, oceanography, and ecology.

Geology examines the structure of the earth to study its history in order to find out what events it has experienced and what is currently occurring. Typically, in this field, we study rocks because rocks are able to show the best picture of the earth without continually being disturbed, like soil.

Paleontology is similar to geology in that it looks into the earth's past but specifically studies life in the past. This is the science that looks at fossils, such as dinosaur fossils.

Meteorology is the study of weather, with a strong focus on predicting how weather will occur. Specifically, scientists in this field are looking at Earth by focusing on wind, rain, and climate.

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