Unit 1: Introduction Core 270 Spring 2008 Dr. Sharon Fredericks
Why take a science course if I’m not a science major? “It is important to realize that all educated individuals not just scientists can benefit from gaining this knowledge [understanding the fundamental nature of the scientific endeavor] as part of a liberal arts education. Many careers, while not specifically scientific, involve the use of scientific information.” 1 “Experience in scientific research, if nothing else, provides insight on what question to ask about topics related to science”. 1
Why take a science course if I’m not a science major? “It will help you to distinguish claims that are provisional and debatable, from claims that are so well established that rejecting them drives one over the border that divides real science from pseudoscience, which are activities that illegitimately wrap themselves in the mantle of science” 2 Because King’s College says you have to in order to graduate
How will this course help me in life? Medical decision Consumer decisions Policy decisions Hopefully you will be able to better scrutinize and analyze scientific studies conducted on new medical treatments, consumer products and governmental policies and laws
What is Science? What do you think of? –Unpronounceable words and lots of math? –Chemicals? Instruments? –Guys in white lab coats with poor social skills? –Mad scientist? Geeks?
How about? Way of learning about things Process to improve understanding of the universe and all that is in it Knowledge gained through research, where research is observing, gathering, clarifying, analyzing and storing information 1.
What is Science? What characteristics do all sciences have in common? – Science: process of investigation of physical, biological, behavioral, social, economic and political phenomena. 3 –Can be done on a small scale or large scale. –Grouped as a natural science or a social science Process of investigation and discovery
What is not Science? Ethics, Art, Religion Value judgments are not measurable Opinions are not facts Can be useful to science –E.g., Observation is a crucial skill for both artists and scientists 1
Broad Categories of the Sciences Physical Earth Biological Behavioral Some disciplines cross boundaries e.g., anthropology = biological + behavioral science
Who are the Scientists? Eclectic group of men and women with a variety of backgrounds Common traits 2 –Intense curiosity about the world –Ability to learn by themselves Vignettes in both texts
Galileo 2,3 1 st person to formula universal mathematical laws to describe the motion of objects Idealized problems to make them easier to solve –E.g., Remove friction from motion on an incline plane Rarely referred to experimental data per se. –Was one of the first to test ideas –Used “thought experiments” and mathematical arguments
Quote from Ben-Ari text 2 “Great scientists are those who are able to look in novel and imaginative ways at observations that are potentially available to everyone” Knowledge on the part of the observer is critical
Natural Science Natural Science: studies, describes, and explains the physical world. What distinguishes a Natural Science from a Social Science? –Natural sciences look at the physical world in and around us. –Basic laws of nature apply. –Social Sciences look at societies and relationships within and among social groups.
Subjects of Science Must be measurable Must be observable Science is empirical in that it relies on observation and experience. What drives Science? Why do people do scientific experiments? 3 Curiosity!
Natural Sciences Traditional divisions, which can be further subdivided: –Physics –Astronomy –Chemistry –Biology Some recent specialties –Meteorology –Oceanography –Geology –Neuroscience
Basic Research/Pure Science 1,3 Pure Science – investigations where the goal is a better understanding of the phenomena (how or why things work). A.k.a. basic research Knowledge gained from pure Science may be applied to: –Produce new technology and engineering, which involve a final product or service –Create policy decisions Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
Applied Research 1,3 Definition: Research focused on developing applications; done to solve a particular problem; often leads to new technology 3 Driven by 3 Technology: process of production and the delivery of goods and service; investigating how to produce and delivery better goods more effectively 3 Engineering: process of investigation of how to solve problems 3 Unlike Pure Science, development is done secretly and the test of validity is in the public use. Problem solving
Examples Pure Science = nuclear physics Applied research = developing nuclear weapons, medicine, energy Technology = specific weapons, medical devices, reactors Pure science = ecological studies Applied research = studies to determine how to save an endangered species Technology = government policy to protect species
Your Turn Technology = Development of smaller and more efficient semiconductor devices for computer chips Pure Science = Investigation of silicon, germanium alloys Technology = Development of robots to investigate the surface of Mars Pure Science = Study of robotics and artificial intelligence Frequent overlap between the two areas occurs in practice.
Basic Research vs. Applied Research Some people may not see the need for basic research, especially with respect to funding by government agencies A healthy balance, however, is needed. One can’t predict which areas of basic research will produce useful applications. Frequently, there is an overlap between the two types of research, almost a synergy.
Science & Policy 3 To set policy, 3 different areas of input are needed: –Scientific facts Investigations determine the scientific consequences of a policy –Economic facts Expense, income, supplies, etc related to the policy –Value system Given the advantages and disadvantages established from the scientific and economic facts, is the policy worth implementing?
Example: Clean Air Act of 1990 Scientific fact: –Measurements were done to determine the levels of pollutants emitted by factories, refineries, cars, etc. –Studies were done to determine health and environmental consequences of specific levels of pollutants –In 1997, new scientific data changed the required levels Economic facts: –Cost of implementing policy – measuring devices and stations, personnel, etc. –Cost for manufacturing, refining and other companies to redesign factories and plants to lower pollutants Value system: Is the price worth it?
Responsibilities of an Educated Society Understand the value of science Determine the limits of what is acceptable in research Question the application of new technologies Understand issues faced by governments and policies derived from scientific studies “Science answers the question ‘how can this be done?’. It is the role of the whole society to answer the question ‘should this be done?’” 3
References 1.Lee, J.A., The Scientific Endeavor, Addison Wesley Longman, CA, 2000. 2.Ben-Ari, M., Just a Theory: Exploring the Nature of Science, Prometheus Books, NY, 2005. 3.Kleinsteuber, et al., Natural Science 5 th edition, King’s College, PA, 2004.