Presentation on theme: "Astronomy & the Process of Science"— Presentation transcript:
1 Astronomy & the Process of Science What makes something scientific?What makes Astronomy a science?Why is Astrology not science?
2 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 waterMy house is haunted by ghosts who make creaking noises only I hear every night.Dogs are smarter than cats.
3 Hallmarks of Science Seek explanations from natural causes Progresses through creation and testing of models of nature that explain observations as simply as possible.Makes testable predictions, and revises or abandons models if predictions don’t agree with observations.
4 Science or Non-Science? The Yankees are the best baseball team of all time. testable, but depends upon definition of “Best” that is subjectiveSeveral kilometers below its surface, Jupiter’s moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water testable, but we don’t have technology yetMy house is haunted by ghosts who make creaking noises only I hear every night. testable, but “supernatural” is not scientificDogs are smarter than cats. testable, but depends upon definition of “smarter” that is subjective
5 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.
6 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.
7 The process of science… Observe “things” in naturePatterns (seasons repeat every year)Motions (planets move across the sky)Events (eclipses!)What isn’t there! (feeling like we are moving)Ask QuestionsWhat? When? Where? How? … and WHY?Research prior explanations & modelsRequires imagination to tell what is important
8 The process of science… Create Explanations (Theories)Consistent with what is already knownAble to predict events, observations, trendsDevelop TESTABLE hypotheses“Educated Guess”Specific, narrow focusDo the experimentFeynman: How not to be fooled….
9 The Scientific Method Analyze Results Why aren’t you certain?? Most likely result: you can’t tellNext most likely: hypothesis is wrong!And if you are right…?Why aren’t you certain??Always uncertainty in every measurement, and in every result.Experiment itself might not be able to tell.
10 The Scientific Method Develop Conclusions based on data Anticipate sources of errorRefine or Discard HypothesisDevelop further tests & Repeat!Compare results w/ existing theoriesShare preliminary resultsSubmit a paper to peer-reviewed journalAsk colleagues for inputPresent at conferencesDiscuss, Debate, Defend results
11 The Scientific Method Seek independent confirmation then… Revise TheoriesDo new experimentsDevelop new techniques, equipment,Publish again
12 Astrology Consider your sunsign… Aries (Ram) Mar. 21 - 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
13 The process of science… OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”???Observe behavior trendsCategorize into “signs”Create a theory – the planets and stars are responsibleTest – read your horoscope! “That’s ME!!”Publish
14 The process of science… Consider the following:“Here’s the pitch… and Bonds hits it high, hits it deep…it’s outta here! Barry Bonds is the best home run hitter in history.”From this one pitch, could you predict that on the next pitch he will hit a home run?
15 The process of science… No…. You cannot make a valid conclusion from one instance where a theory does coincide with a prediction.Science demands continual testing.Science requires that if the prediction DOESN’T match the result, the theory must be modified!
16 The process of science… Consider the following… “The planet is getting warmer and warmer. Volcanoes are responsible, not people.”The first part can be true.The second part might not be the whole story!
17 The process of science… Astrology: Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified.The planets and stars are responsible.
18 The process of science… 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.
19 Summary: The Process of Science… observation of data, developing questions about trends, differences, & unique occurrences seenresearch into previous work on similar questionsbuilding models & creating testable hypothesesdesigning, & gathering new data through, experimentstesting & refining the models based on the analysis of new data collected
20 Summary: The Process of Science… modifying or discarding incorrect hypothesesdeveloping interconnected hypotheses into theoriessharing results with peers for independent evaluation and testingpublishing findings in peer-reviewed journals so that the community of science can advance.