• Question: what is the meaning of science?

    Asked by asiansupreme to Mike, Anil, Blanka, Cees, Emma on 25 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: Michael Cook

      Michael Cook answered on 25 Jun 2012:

      That’s a big question! Do you mean what does the word mean, or what is science all about?

      The word science comes from the word for ‘knowledge’ in Latin. Which is pretty appropriate! As for what science is all about…

      I think the most important thing in science is an experiment. Experiments let us test our ideas in the real world, and see if we are right or wrong. If we do them right, experiments always tell us the truth – they show us what is really going on. That’s important because scientists should never guess: science is about having evidence for your ideas, or being able to prove that something is true!

      This is part of something called The Scientific Method. It says that if you want to know if something is true, you should do it for real and see! Even in computer science we have to conduct experiments to be sure we are doing the right thing.

    • Photo: Blanka Sengerova

      Blanka Sengerova answered on 28 Jun 2012:

      That is very philosophical one. Thank you, Mike, for looking up the linguistic origin of the word science, I was interested to read that.

      To me the main point of science is getting to know how things work for two reasons. Firstly, it is simply of intellectual interest how things such as the cell of the body, proteins and enzymes, the universe and many others do what they do. That is what we call pure science. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is applied science. Applied science basically asks the question, “what does this thing do, and can we make some use of this knowledge for some real-world application?”. Whilst applied science might have more immediate uses, it is important not to forget pure science, too, because the uses of pure science research might only become clear some years down the line – I wrote more about this topic a while ago if you are interested: http://www.scienceoxford.com/news/the-value-of-blue-sky-research/

    • Photo: Emma Trantham

      Emma Trantham answered on 1 Jul 2012:

      I think Mike and Blanka have pretty much covered it all: science is the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the form of explanations that can be tested (so if scientists think that X happened then they will test that thought to see if they are right)