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Unifying Themes, Principles & Relationships in Science

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  • 0:02 What Is Science?
  • 1:08 Themes & Principles of Science
  • 3:17 Relationships in Science
  • 4:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learn the true definition of science and explore the main themes and principles to understand how science helps us find relationships in the natural world. Take a quiz to test what you know.

What Is Science?

We should all be very thankful for science. Because of science, people in the Western world no longer have to worry about anything more than a faint possibility of a child dying early in life. Because of science, human life expectancy has increased dramatically. Because of science we have so many tasks automated for us: everything from cleaning clothes, to vacuuming the floor, to complex calculations on the computer. Our lives are a lot easier thanks to technology, and thanks the science that helps to develop those technologies. But what exactly is science?

Science is a study of the natural world by systematic observation and experiment. Science isn't knowledge; it's the process we use to gain knowledge. Science admits that humans are really useless at being objective, so it uses a process that makes it easier to collect and analyze data in a unbiased way. This is called the scientific method and is covered in more detail in other lessons. In this lesson, we going to go through a few of the main principles and themes of science.

Themes and Principles of Science

Although a lot of people don't think about it, one of the fundamental principles of science is that the universe makes consistent sense. If the universe didn't make consistent sense, there would be little point studying it. If a result can be one way one day and different another day, without any pattern, then you can't make predictions. All scientific hypotheses must be testable: they must make predictions that we can check to see whether they're true or not. This is considered to be like a science rule, but it's really just the assumption that the universe makes sense and can be explained.

One of the key principles of science we have already touched upon is being objective can be hard. To make it more likely that science will be accurate, scientists use statistics to analyze the quality of the data and peer review processes to allow scientists to check each other's work. Statistics is the practice of collecting and analyzing data in large quantities. Statistics can tell you how likely it is that your data is coincidental. The peer review is where a paper submitted to be published is looked over and critiqued by scientists. If a paper does not successfully make it through the peer review process it will not be published, and since scientists can be highly critical of each other's work, this filters out a lot of flawed research.

Another key idea in science is that certainty is impossible. You can only ever show that something is highly likely to be true. There comes a point where the data is so strong that it might as well be certain for practical purposes, but any belief can be dismissed if enough new data is collected. This gives scientists enormous freedom to think outside of the box and find new ways of explaining the same phenomena.

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