Let’s talk about Science

Science definition

‘Science’ means different things for different people.

Scientists may scoff at this statement – asserting that ‘science’ can be defined precisely and correctly, the most common definition being ‘systematic study of the world using observation and experimentation’. What does that mean in plain English? Simply that science tries to answer questions by proposing solutions that can be verified by carrying out experiments. You want to find out why your milk is smelling weird? You first come up with an answer to this question by thinking about it (maybe it smells weird because it was left outside all night?). Then you conduct an experiment to find out if this is true (you could take another glass of milk, and leave it outside for one night), and from the results of that experiment (the second glass of milk smells/does not smell weird) you conclude whether your proposed answer was correct or not. If it was true, voilà, you’ve solved the problem! If not, you go back to the drawing board, and propose another solution (maybe an assassin hired by your ex-wife sneaked in and added something to the milk?) In doing so, you have followed the scientific method, and what you have done is essentially ‘science’.

But this is not the picture the average person gets when he/she hears the word ‘science’. Science means space and atoms, bacteria and earthworms, test tubes and microscopes, acids and fumes and lab coats. Science is what is used to justify differences and settle debates when a new drug enters the market or when politicians argue about climate change. Science is a small section of the daily newspaper, a periodical your neighbor subscribes to, your child’s colorful textbook. Science is something you hear about, science is not a part of your daily life.

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