Portal:Science

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The Science Portal
For a topic outline of science, see Outline of science.
Meissner effect

Meissner effect

Science is the methodical study of nature including testable explanations and predictions. During the Middle Ages in the Middle East, foundations for the scientific method were laid by Alhazen in his Book of Optics. From classical antiquity through the 19th century, science as a type of knowledge was more closely linked to philosophy than it is now and, in fact, in the Western world, the term "natural philosophy" encompassed fields of study that are today associated with science, such as astronomy, medicine, and physics. While the classification of the material world by the ancient Indians and Greeks into Air, Earth, Fire and Water was more philosophical, medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

Today, the ever-evolving term "science" refers to the pursuit of knowledge, not the knowledge itself. It is often synonymous with "natural and physical science" and often restricted to those branches of study relating to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws. Although the term implies exclusion of pure mathematics, many university faculties include Mathematics Departments within their Faculty of Science. The dominant sense in ordinary use has a narrower use for the term "science." It developed as a part of science becoming a distinct enterprise of defining the "laws of nature"; early examples include Kepler's laws, Galileo's laws, and Newton's laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as "natural science." Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. For example, psychology evolved from philosophy, and has grown into an area of study.

Currently, there are both "hard" (e.g. biological psychology) and "soft" science (e.g. social psychology) fields within the discipline. As a result, and as is consistent with the unfolding of the study of knowledge and development of methods to establish facts, each area of psychology employs a scientific method. Reflecting the evolution of the development of knowledge and established facts and the use of the scientific method, Psychology Departments in universities are found within: Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Arts, and a Faculty of Science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.

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Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo
Scaled Composites' Model 339 SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is a suborbital spaceplane for carrying space tourists, under development by The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, as part of the Tier 1b program. The spaceship was officially unveiled to the public on Monday, 7 December 2009, at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The Virgin Galactic spaceline plans to operate a fleet of five of these craft in passenger-carrying private spaceflight service. The destruction in a test flight of the first craft in 2014 has delayed the start of commercial operations.

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Wake Vortex Study at Wallops Island
Credit: NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC)

Wake turbulence, also known as "jetwash", is turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. This turbulence can be especially hazardous during the landing and take off phases of flight, where an aircraft's proximity to the ground makes a timely recovery from turbulence-induced problems unlikely. Wingtip vortices make up the primary and most dangerous component of wake turbulence, but normal wake effects are also an important part. A method of reducing wingtip vortices employs the use of winglets.

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Albert Einstein, photographed by Oren J. Turner (1947)
Albert Einstein (About this sound German pronunciation ) (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist widely known as one of the greatest physicists of all time. He formulated the special and general theories of relativity. In addition, he made significant advancements to quantum theory and statistical mechanics. While best known for the Theory of Relativity (and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E=mc2), he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his 1905 (his "wonderful year" or "miraculous year") explanation of the photoelectric effect and "for his services to Theoretical Physics". In popular culture, the name "Einstein" has become synonymous with great intelligence and genius.

Among his many investigations were: capillary action, his special theory of relativity which stemmed from an attempt to reconcile the laws of mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field, his general theory of relativity which extended the principle of relativity to include gravitation, relativistic cosmology, critical opalescence, classical problems of statistical mechanics and problems in which they were merged with quantum theory, including an explanation of Brownian motion; atomic transition probabilities, the probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory, the quantum theory of a monatomic gas, the thermal properties of light with a low radiation density which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light, the theory of radiation, including stimulated emission; the construction of a unified field theory, and the geometrization of physics.

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