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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A ribbon diagram of Dihydrofolate reductase
Enzyme kinetics is the study of the rates of chemical reactions that are catalysed by enzymes. The study of an enzyme's kinetics provides insights into the catalytic mechanism of this enzyme, its role in metabolism, how its activity is controlled in the cell and how drugs and poisons can inhibit its activity.

Enzymes are molecules that manipulate other molecules — the enzymes' substrates. These target molecules bind to an enzyme's active site and are transformed into products through a series of steps known as the enzymatic mechanism. Some enzymes bind multiple substrates and/or release multiple products, such as a protease cleaving one protein substrate into two polypeptide products. Others join substrates together, such as DNA polymerase linking a nucleotide to DNA. Although these mechanisms are often a complex series of steps, there is typically one rate-determining step that determines the overall kinetics. This rate-determining step may be a chemical reaction or a conformational change of the enzyme or substrates, such as those involved in the release of product(s) from the enzyme.

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Schematic of a railgun.
Credit: DrBob

A railgun is a form of gun that converts electrical energy—rather than the more conventional chemical energy from an explosive propellant—into projectile kinetic energy. It is not to be confused with a coilgun (Gauss gun). The term railgun is also used for conventional firearms used in the Unlimited class of benchrest shooting.

A Railgun is a type of Magnetic Accelerator Gun (MAG) that utilizes an electromagnetic force to propel an electrically conductive projectile that is initially part of the current path. Sometimes they also use a movable armature connecting the rails. The current flowing through the rails sets up a magnetic field between them and through the projectile perpendicularly to the current in it. This results in the rails and the projectile pushing each other and in the acceleration of the projectile along the rails.

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Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrobiologist, and highly successful science popularizer. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was the most-watched PBS program until Ken Burns' The Civil War in 1990. A book to accompany the program was also published. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 film of the same name starring Jodie Foster. During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated scientific skepticism, humanism, and the scientific method.

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  • ...that coloration is a property of loudspeakers that causes the speaker to continue to emit sound when an electrical signal stops?
  • ...that the two human atria do not have valves at their inlets?

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