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Science Communication LOLO.00.037 www.ut.ee/BG/scom Session 2 The Nature of Science

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Title: NATURE OF SCIENCE Author: kasutaja Created Date: 9/19/2006 12:30:01 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show Company: T Other titles – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Science Communication LOLO.00.037 www.ut.ee/BG/scom Session 2 The Nature of Science


1
Science CommunicationLOLO.00.037www.ut.ee/BG/sco
mSession 2The Nature of Science
  • Jack Holbrook
  • University of Tartu

2
The Overall Goal
  • Developing an understanding of
  • What science is and what it is not.
  • What science can do and what it cannot do.
  • How science contributes to culture.

3
Some Assumptions about Scientific Knowledge
  • THE WORLD IS REAL
  • In other words, the physical universe really
    does exists, apart from our sensory perception of
    it.

4
Another Assumption
  • HUMANS CAN PERCEIVE AND UNDERSTAND THE
    PHYSICAL UNIVERSE.
  • In other words, we can learn about how the
    natural world (as opposed to the supernatural
    world) works and operates.

5
A Third Assumption
  • NATURAL PROCESSES are SUFFICIENT to explain, or
    account for natural phenomena or events.
  • In other words, scientists must explain the
    natural in terms of the natural.

6
Last Assumption
  • Scientists ASSUME THAT NATURE "OPERATES"
    UNIFORMLY
  • in both space and time
  • (unless we have evidence to the contrary).
  • This is known as the
  • PRINCIPLE OF UNIFORMITY.

7
The Scientific Process
  • Would you support the idea that scientific
    means involvement of -
  • Observations followed by Inferences ?
  • Observations are important as they lead us on the
    path to being a successful scientist, or to gain
    an understanding of the real world.

Observations followed by Inferences
8
  • Comment on observations made in the natural
    world.
  • Would you be willing to accept that scientific
    observations are unambiguous and give the real
    picture?
  • If so, take a look at the following -

9
Does A or B form the straight line extension of
line C ?
Could we make a mistake in our observations
without realising it ?
10
Are the lines at the top of the trapezia of
different lengths ?
Could we inadvertently give false information ?
11
How many fs ?Answer within 5 seconds
  • Finished files are the resultof years of
    scientific studycombined with the experienceof
    years...

Are we good at making complete observations ?
12
Observing scientifically
  • You may have difficulty in observing
    correctly, but scientists have no problem.
  • Or do they ??
  • Let us observe more.

13
A rabbit or a duck?
14
An Illusion
  • Do you see a face?
  • Or an Eskimo?

15
Can you see the three faces?
                                                  
    
Can you see 3 faces ?
16
How many faces or people do you see ?
17
How many hidden faces?
Can you find the 13 hidden faces?
                                                  
                                                  
                                                  
          Buy a poster!
18
The picture shows a waterfall to the side of the
house. But are you sure ??
19
I have another clip similar to the previous one
Take a look
20
Is this physically possible?
21
Going up or down ? Maybe neither !
22
Just a slice of bread !
23
Can you see a man ?
24
What do you see man or woman? May I invite
everyone to leave their seat and observe from
closer to the screen. Then move to the back of
the room.
25
Additional sources of illusions
  • www.eyetricks.com

26
Observations
  • Scientific observation needs to be objective.
  • But is this always possible ?
  • It would seem there is a human element that
    interferes with absolute objectivity.
  • Could it be that scientific observations are
    subjective ?

27
Observation and Inference
  • Science is based on both observation and
    inference.
  • Observations are gathered through human senses or
    extensions of those senses.
  • Inferences are interpretations of those
    observations.
  • But is there more to being scientific?
  • For example, what about being inquisitive?
  • (Inquisitiveness may be shown by asking
    questions)

28
  • Try the following ACTIVITIES

29
Examining a cube
  • Create a group of 3/4 persons.
  • Sit around a table facing each other in the
    group.
  • Examine (but do not touch/move) a cube which is
    placed on top of a plastic cup on the table.
  • Being inquisitive !
  • Can you (individually) put forward a question to
    ask about the cube ?
  • Please record the diversity of questions coming
    from the persons in the group.

30
What is written on the bottom, i.e. on the hidden
side of the cube?
  • In your group, discuss this question.
  • Record your group prediction(s).
  • If you feel it is useful, your group may give
    more than one justification.

Now try to justify your predictions.
And, if you have more than one prediction,
identify the one your group considers to be
dominant.
31
Examining another cube
  • The previous exercise was (I hope) simple.
    (school students find it easy)
  • NOW, in your groups, examine (but do not
    touch/move) a new cube placed on the plastic cup.
  • AGAIN put forward your predicted response to what
    is on the hidden, bottom face of the cube.
  • AGAIN record your prediction(s).

32
Cube 3 - A further stage
  • Carefully raise one corner of the cube so that,
    with the use of a mirror, you can see the number
    recorded in the top right corner, OR the bottom
    left corner (but not both !!)
  • Modify (add to) your prediction as to what is
    written on the bottom of the cube.
  • TRY TO GIVE A FULL PREDICTION COVERING ALL THAT
    IS WRITTEN.

33
Cube 3 and degree of observation
  • Does cube 3 give us any insight into the
    scientific approach ?
  • Does it suggest that we do not necessarily need
    to observe everything and that we can make
    calculated guesses from other observations ?
  • Make inferences on incomplete observations .
  • If a gas is colourless and lighter than air, can
    we infer it is probably hydrogen ?
  • Or if a gas is known to be hydrogen, then can we
    infer a balloon containing hydrogen will ..

34
The Importance of Inference
Try reading the passage below
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
35
Acting the scientific way
  • If inference skill is a key to being
    scientific,
  • even if observation is incomplete,
  • what about making predictions ?

36
(No Transcript)
37
Observe what does actually happen.
What explanation do you have for what happened?
You should be able to put forward at least one
explanation. Explanations from the group may not
all be the same.
Select one explanation which you like. Now based
on that possible explanation, predict what will
happen when the second hole is uncovered.
38
Observe what actually did happen.
Did the result match your prediction ? If so, do
you feel your prediction is good? If NOT, it
seems your prediction is not good. Can you put
forward another Prediction?

Now we have one more hole. Let us again make a
prediction about the outcome if we uncover all 3
holes.
39
Summarising
  • Science is limited to operations within certain
    boundaries (assumptions).
  • Observations are scientific, but not always easy.
  • Inferences are scientific and often can be made
    with incomplete observation.
  • Making predictions is an important scientific
    attribute, as are putting forward explanations.
  • So why is school (university) science so much
    about knowing facts ?

40
Session 3
  • Individual presentation
  • Taking whatever optical illusion you wish, please
    present this to the group (from powerpoint or
    from the internet, or as a live demonstration).
  • The challenge
  • In doing this, please pay attention to the need
    to present to the audience (not the screen or the
    ceiling/floor) and please note the audience needs
    to understand the point of your presentation.
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