Science is all the knowledge or knowledge constituted through observation and the systematic and reasoned study of nature, society, and thought.
The objective of science is to discover the laws that govern the phenomena of reality, understand them and explain them. Hence it follows that the function of science is to describe, explain and predict such phenomena to improve human life.
Science produces scientific knowledge. This is defined as all knowledge that has been obtained through the scientific method, that is, through systematic observation and analysis. Consequently, scientific knowledge offers reasoned and valid conclusions that can be tested.
The word science derives from the Latin scientĭa, which means ‘knowledge’ or ‘knowing’ and, as such, it is not restricted to a specific area.
In this sense, science comprises all fields of knowledge and study (including formal, natural, social, and human sciences) that lead to developing particular theories and methods for each area.
Science is also closely related to technology, especially since the second half of the 19th century. Hence the importance of scientific studies aimed at creating or perfecting the technology.
The sciences are very different in their specific purposes. However, they all share the search for general laws, fundamental methodological principles, a recurring character, and utility for civilization. Let’s look at each feature separately.
Apply the scientific method. Science applies norms and verifiable criteria to study phenomena, which are called the scientific method. The scientific method is based on:
You tend to look for general laws. Science tries to understand the laws or general principles that govern phenomena. Some sciences, such as mathematics, seek that these laws have a degree of certainty. Other sciences, such as natural or social, build laws subject to constant revision. An example of a general law in science is Newton’s law of gravity.
Science is a process of analysis. There is a question to be solved and a hypothesis about it that must be verified. For example: how a mobile device works.
Science, as it is known, originated in the 16th and 17th centuries.
René Descartes, one of those who contributed the most initially, created the Cartesian method in which he pointed out that “you can only say that there is something that has been proven.” He was a significant influence in the world of science.
Descartes revolutionized his methodology in a very positive way. Its principles were the following: the principle of doubt, nothing should be accepted as accurate until it is proven, the principle of analysis in which it is a matter of breaking down the problem and evaluating it into small parts, the principle of synthesis in which the most straightforward forms that make up the problem are valued to progress to the most difficult ones, and the principle of verification to assess that no data has been overlooked during the process.
How the scientific method is carried out
In summary, these are the steps:
The observation. In this step, what you want to study and investigate is revealed. For this, it is necessary to carry out this first stage in which what is going to be worked on later in the scientific process is observed.
The hypotheses. Once the initial observation has been carried out, a series of hypotheses are formulated to explain what has been observed.
Experimentation It is time to carry out the relevant experiments to check if the hypotheses are correct, or on the contrary, they are false, and it is necessary to start from new hypotheses or experiments that offer decisive results.
The theories. They allow explaining hypotheses that have been tested effectively.
The conclusions. Once the theory is formulated and previously verified based on experimentation, a series of conclusions are drawn from the process carried out.
It is cumulative and systematic. Science values the accumulated knowledge of previous investigations, that is, the antecedents. These are always a starting point, either as support or as questioning. At the same time, all new knowledge becomes part of the scientific heritage. For example, the heliocentric theory of Copernicus replaced the geocentric theory of Ptolemy, while Kepler’s laws of elliptical orbits perfected the Copernican theory.
It is useful. All science produces useful, necessary, and essential knowledge to interpret reality and to stimulate human and social development in any of its aspects: cultural, intellectual, technological, industrial, etc. For example, science allowed the discovery of penicillin and electricity.