Natural Sciences

                                                                                        Areas of Knowing

Great Online links to science articles, books,  and audio interviews                             

Reuben Abel's  Man is The Measure   


Evolution Debate: Science vs. Religion


Artificial Intelligence   Articles by Ray Kurzweil and other noted scientists on the future of A.I.


Chat with Ramona  an A.I.                                


Meet M.I.T.'s  Kismet, the robot with emotions 


The Day the Universe Changed : How Galileo's Telescope 


Changed The Truth and Other Events in History That 


Dramatically Altered Our Understanding of the World


Einstein's Dreams  Alan Lightman 


"Fantastic Journey: How Scientists Figured Out the Shape and                                                                         

Size of the Earth"   by Joy Hakim


A Short History of Nearly Everything  Bill Bryson


Popular Science Online                                          


Robotics Site    (great site on robotics, the merging of machine                                                                                                                                                                             

and man. Includes classroom activities)                                                                                                                                               

Scientific American Online 

Science Friday Archives  audio interviews on various scientific topics

 Steven Pinker     check out link to videos of Pinker and                                           Steven PinkerSteven Pinker

Pinker's homepage at Harvard                                                                   

Thomas Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions       


The Origin, History, and Classifications of Science                                                              

Science (Latin scientia, from scire, “to know”), term used to denote systematized knowledge in any field, but applied usually to the organization of objectively verifiable sense experience. The pursuit of knowledge in this context is known as pure science, to distinguish it from applied science, which is the search for practical uses of scientific knowledge, and from technology, through which applications are realized.

Origins of Science

Efforts to systematize knowledge can be traced to prehistoric times. The oldest written records of protoscientific investigations come from Mesopotamian cultures; lists of astronomical observations, chemical substances, and disease symptoms, as well as a variety of mathematical tables, were inscribed in cuneiform characters on clay tablets. Ancient papyrus documents have been discovered in the Nile Valley, containing information on the treatment of wounds, on the distribution of bread and beer, and on finding the volume of a portion of a pyramid.

Rise of Scientific Theory

Among the first Greek scholars to seek the fundamental causes of natural phenomena was the philosopher Thales, in the 6th century BC. The mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras established a movement in which mathematics became a discipline fundamental

to scientific investigation. At the Academy of Plato, deductive reasoning (see Deduction) and mathematical representation were emphasized; at the Lyceum of Aristotle, inductive reasoning and qualitative description were stressed. The interplay between these two approaches to science has led to most subsequent advances (see Logic).

During the so-called Hellenistic Age, foundations were laid for mechanics and hydrostatics, botany, trigonometry, and anatomy and physiology. In the 2nd century AD the geocentric (earth-centered) system, advanced by the astronomer Ptolemy, and the medical works of the physician and philosopher Galen became standard scientific treatises.

Medieval and Renaissance Science

During the 13th century, Chinese innovations led to European processes for manufacturing paper and gunpowder, and the use of printing and the mariner's compass. In 1543 the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus revolutionized astronomy, and Belgian anatomist Andreas Vesalius corrected and modernized the anatomical teachings of Galen. Vesalius's work led to the discovery of the circulation of the blood.

Modern Science

Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo led the development of modern scientific methods by systematic verification through planned experiments, using new instruments such as the telescope, the microscope, and the thermometer. In 1687 English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton published his universal law of gravitation. The invention of calculus led to today's sophisticated level of science and mathematics.

Confidence in the scientific attitude inspired the so-called Age of Enlightenment. Scientific developments during the 18th century paved the way for some broad generalizations in science, including the atomic theory of matter, theories of electromagnetism, and the law of the conservation of energy (see Electromagnetic Radiation; Energy; Thermodynamics). Charles Darwin put forth evolution, the most comprehensive biological theory of the time. But as biology became more firmly based, physics was shaken by the consequences of quantum theory and relativity.

Scientific Communication

Throughout history, scientific knowledge has been transmitted chiefly through written documents. Since the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century) the fostering of scientific activity has been shared by universities and scientific societies. Governmental support of science led to the founding of the Royal Society of London (1662) and the Académie des Sciences de Paris (1666). During the 18th century academies of science, many of which publish journals, were established by other leading nations. Since the late 19th century, communication among scientists has been facilitated by the establishment of international organizations. The unions hold international congresses every few years, the transactions of which are usually published. Numerous major industrial firms also have research departments, some of which regularly publish accounts of their work. 

The pure natural sciences are generally divided into the physical sciences and the biological sciences, both of which can be subdivided.   

     The chief Biological Sciences are botany and zoology. All classifications of the pure sciences, however, are arbitrary. In the formulations of general scientific laws, interlocking relationships among the sciences are recognized. These interrelationships are considered responsible for much of the progress today in several specialized fields of research, such as molecular biology and genetics. Several interdisciplinary sciences, such as biochemistry, have arisen. Advances can be the result of research by teams of specialists representing different sciences, both pure and applied.[1]

 The Social Sciences are  sciences concerned with human society and the institutions, relationships, and ideas involved in social life. Fields include anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, history, law, psychology, criminology, and social psychology.[2]

[1]Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia © &  1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.

All rights reserved.

[2]Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia © &  1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.

All rights reserved.