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Astronomy & the Process of Science  What makes something scientific?  What makes Astronomy a science?  Why is Astrology not science?

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Presentation on theme: "Astronomy & the Process of Science  What makes something scientific?  What makes Astronomy a science?  Why is Astrology not science?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Astronomy & the Process of Science  What makes something scientific?  What makes Astronomy a science?  Why is Astrology not science?

2 Final Exam Essay Question!  How does the process of science work?  What are its typical steps?  Illustrate your answer with multiple astronomical examples of good science from the class.

3 Science?  Finding out about Nature…  NOT always right, sure, certainty!  More often? Confused! Wrong! Richard Feynman

4 Hallmarks of Science  Seek explanations from natural causes  Not “super-natural”  example: You hear a sound at night in the house…

5 Hallmarks of Science  Seek explanations from natural causes  Not “super-natural”  example: You hear a sound at night in the house…  supernatural causes: ghosts!

6 Hallmarks of Science

7  Seek explanations from natural causes  Not “super-natural”  example: You hear a sound at night in the house…  natural causes: earthquake, mice, pets, children, house settling, sonic boom, thunder

8 Hallmarks of Science  Seek explanations from natural causes  “Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience.” - Leonardo da Vinci

9 Hallmarks of Science  Progresses through creation & testing of models of nature that explain observations as simply as possible.  If it was a storm, do you see lightning?  If it was an earthquake, can you check news for seismic activity?

10 Hallmarks of Science  Makes testable predictions and…  Revises or abandons models if predictions don’t agree with observations. (cf. nature of science) (cf. nature of science)

11 The process of science…  Observe “things” in nature  Ask Questions  Create Explanations  Develop Testable Hypotheses  Do the Experiment  Analyze results, anticipate errors  Draw Conclusions  Share with others for independent confirmation  Patterns (seasons repeat every year)  Motions (planets move across the sky)  Events (eclipses!)  What isn’t there! (feeling like we are moving)

12 The process of science…  Observe “things” in nature  Patterns (seasons repeat every year)  Motions (planets move across the sky)  Events (eclipses!)  What isn’t there! (feeling like we are moving)

13 The process of science… Ask Questions about what you observed  What? When? Where? How? … and WHY?  Research prior explanations & models  Requires imagination to tell what is important

14 The process of science…  Create Explanations (theories) that account for what you have observed  These should be consistent with what is already known  Use these to predict additional observations, patterns, events, trends

15 The process of science… Develop TESTABLE hypotheses  An “Educated Guess”  With a specific, narrow focus  Do the experimentexperiment  Feynman: Science is how not to be fooled….

16 The process of science…  Analyze Experimental Results  Most likely result: you can’t tell for certain if your hypothesis was right!  Next most likely: hypothesis is wrong!  And if you are right…?.

17 The process of science…  Why aren’t you certain??  Always uncertainty in every measurement, and in every result.  Experiment itself might not be able to tell.

18  Develop Conclusions based on data  Anticipate sources of error  Refine or Discard Hypothesis  Develop further tests & Repeat!  Compare results w/ existing theories The process of science…

19  Share preliminary results  Submit a paper to peer-reviewed journal  Ask colleagues for input  Present at conferences  Discuss, Debate, Defend results  ARGUE ARGUE The process of science…

20  Seek independent confirmation then…  Revise Theories  Do new experiments  Develop new techniques, equipment,  Publish again The process of science…

21  Astrology: Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified. The Sun, Moon, Planets & stars and their alignments and aspects are responsible.

22 Astrology Consider your sunsign… Aries (Ram) Mar Apr. 19 Libra (Scales) Sep Oct. 22 Taurus (Bull) Apr May 20 Scorpio (Scorpion) Oct Nov. 21 Gemini (Twins) May 21 - Jun. 20 Sagittarius (Archer) Nov Dec. 21 Cancer (Crab) Jun Jul. 22 Capricorn (Goat) Dec Jan. 19 Leo (Lion) Jul Aug. 22 Aquarius (Water Bearer) Jan Feb. 18 Virgo (Maiden) Aug Sep. 22 Pisces (Fish) Feb Mar. 20

23 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”???  Doesn’t astrology follow that process of science?  Observe behavior trends  Categorize into “signs”  Create a theory – the planets and stars are responsible  Test – read your horoscope! “That’s ME!!”  Publish

24 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”???  Consider the following: “I’m an Aries. My astrological sign fits me perfectly. My horoscope today said that I would have a great day today and meet a stranger, and I did! It was 100% right.” From this one instance, could you predict that on the next day it will also be right?

25 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”???  No…. You cannot make a valid conclusion from one instance where a theory does coincide with a prediction.  Science demands continual testing…  And science requires that if the prediction DOESN’T match the result even once, the theory must be modified!

26 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”???  But what about this person? Astrology worked, didn’t it?  Doesn’t that count for something? “I’m an Aries. My astrological sign fits me perfectly. My horoscope today said that I would have a great day today and meet a stranger, and I did! It was 100% right.”

27 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”??? “I’m an Aries. My astrological sig fits me perfectly. My horoscope today said that I would have a great day today and meet a stranger, and I did! It was 100% right.”  In science, you must look for OTHER possible causes before you decide one particular theory is responsible!  Coincidence *does not mean* causality

28 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”??? “I’m an Aries. My astrological sig fits me perfectly. My horoscope today said that I would have a great day today and meet a stranger, and I did! It was 100% right.”  Other possibilities?  Did every horoscope match “perfectly”?  Did everything go “great” or just what you chose to remember?  Do you ever meet strangers on days when your horoscope doesn’t say you would?

29 OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”??? “I’m an Aries. My astrological sig fits me perfectly. My horoscope today said that I would have a great day today and meet a stranger, and I did! It was 100% right.”  Other possibilities?  Did everyone born on the same day have the same results?  Could your belief *bias* you to see what you expect to see?

30 Examining Astrology Scientifically  Astrology maintains: a) Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified. b) The planets and stars are responsible.

31  Astrology: Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified. The planets and stars are responsible.  The first part can be true! Psychology!  The second part is not. Examining Astrology Scientifically

32 The process of science…  Consider the following… “The planet is getting warmer and warmer. Nature (volcanoes, the sun, cosmic rays) is responsible, not people.”  The first part can be true.  The second part might not be entirely true!

33 Summary: Process of Science…  observation of data, developing questions about trends, differences, & unique occurrences seen  research into previous work on similar questions  building models & creating testable hypotheses  designing, & gathering new data through, experiments  testing & refining the models based on the analysis of new data collected

34  modifying or discarding incorrect hypotheses  developing interconnected hypotheses into theories  sharing results with peers for independent evaluation and testing  publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals so that the community of science can advance. Summary: Process of Science…

35 Science or Non-Science?  Could these be evaluated scientifically?  The Yankees are the best baseball team of all time.  Several kilometers below its surface, Jupiter’s moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water  My house is haunted by ghosts who make creaking noises I hear every night.  Dogs are smarter than cats.

36 Science or Non-Science?  Could these be evaluated scientifically?  There is no liquid water on the surface of Mars today.  Children born when Jupiter is in front of Taurus are more likely to be musicians than other children.  Aliens can manipulate time so that they can abduct people and perform experiments on them without people every realizing they were taken.

37 Science or Non-Science?  Could these be evaluated scientifically?  Newton’s law of gravity works as well for explaining orbits of planets around other stars as it does for planets in our own solar system.  God created the laws of motion that were discovered by Newton.  A huge fleet of alien spacecraft will land on Earth on January 1, 2020.


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