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Process of the scientific method and theory development

The process of establishing a new scientific theory is necessarily a grueling one; new theories must survive an adverse gauntlet of skeptics who are experts in their particular area of science; the original theory may then need to be revised to satisfy those objections. The typical way in which new scientific ideas are debated are through refereed scientific journals, such as Nature and Scientific American. Depending upon the area of science, there are many other journals specific to their respective fields that act as referees.

Before a new theory can be officially proposed to the scientific community, it must be well-written, documented and submitted to an appropriate scientific journal for publication.

  • One day he sees an apple fall from the tree and begins thinking about the process that leads to objects falling down and how that might apply to the world in general;
  • Attempt to explain these patterns by making a provisional explanation, called a hypothesis;
  • Often an investigator will gather some information before extensively gathering data in order to ask a question;
  • The distinction of how a hypothesis becomes a theory is not clear;
  • After plotting the data in a graph, she notices that the phase shift occurs at two temperatures coinciding with the phase shifts of copper and zinc.

If the editors of these prestigious publications accept a research article for publication, they are signaling that the proposed theory has enough merit to be seriously debated and scrutinized closely by experts in that particular field of science.

Skeptics or proponents of alternative or opposing theories may then try to submit their research and data, while the original proponents of the proposed theory may publish new data that answers the skeptics. It may take many years of often acrimonious debate to settle an issue, resulting in the adoption, modification, or rejection of a new theory.

The Scientific Method

For example, the Alvarez Meteorite Impact theory a 6-mile wide meteorite struck the earth 65 million years ago, ending the Cretaceous Period and causing extinction of the dinosaurswas first proposed in 1979, and took about 10 years of debate before winning over the majority of earth scientists.

A successful scientific inquiry may culminate in a well-tested, well-documented explanation theory that is supported overwhelmingly by valid data, and often has the power to predict the outcome of certain scenarios, which may be tested by future experiments.

There are rare examples of scientific theories that have successfully survived all known attacks for a very long time, and are called scientific laws, such as Newton's Law of Gravity. Below is a generalized sequence of steps taken to establish a scientific theory: Choose and define the natural phenomenon that you want to figure out and explain. Collect information data about this phenomena by going where the phenomena occur and making observations. Or, try to replicate this phenomena by means of a test experiment under controlled conditions usually in a laboratory that eliminates interference's from environmental conditions.

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  • A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment;
  • Choose and define the natural phenomenon that you want to figure out and explain;
  • If a refined hypothesis survives all attacks on it and is the best existing explanation for a particular phenomenon, it is then elevated to the status of a theory;
  • A model that has been repeatedly tested and confirmed may become a scientific theory.

After collecting a lot of data, look for patterns in the data. Attempt to explain these patterns by making a provisional explanation, called a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis by collecting more data to see if the hypothesis continues to show the assumed pattern.

Introduction to the Scientific Method

If the data does not support the hypothesis, it must be changed, or rejected in favor of a better one. In collecting data, one must NOT ignore data that contradicts the hypothesis in favor of only supportive data.

That is called "cherry-picking" and is commonly used by pseudo-scientists attempting to scam people unfamiliar with the scientific method. A good example of this fraud is shown by the so-called "creationists," who start out with a pre-conceived conclusion - a geologically young, 6,000 year old earth, and then cherry-pick only evidence that supports their views, while ignoring or rejecting overwhelming evidence of a much older earth.

The Scientific Method – Hypotheses, Models, Theories, and Laws

If a refined hypothesis survives all attacks on it and is the best existing explanation for a particular phenomenon, it is then elevated to the status of a theory.

Therefore, a theory is not an eternal or perpetual truth. The Scientific Method in Earth Science The classic scientific method where a convenient laboratory experiment may be devised and observed often cannot be done in the earth sciences.

Testing Hypotheses

This is because most of earth and geological phenomena are too big earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or too slow mountain building, climate change to be observed easily or replicated; the earth itself is the "laboratory. Limitations of the Scientific Method The scientific method is limited to those phenomena which can be observed or measured. For example, what existed prior to the Big Bang and the known universe is outside of the realm of science to investigate.

Science is good at explaining "how things work" but not necessarily for explaining "why do such things exist" or "for what purpose.