Gravity is like a bowling ball sitting on a bed sheet; the atom is like a mini solar system, genes are selfish and the forces of evolution are blind...
We're familiar with the metaphors from school, from books and various science docs on the telly. But how accurate are these metaphors and could we find better ones?
Michael Rosen talks to science explainers across the country to find out how you get across ideas in science that are only properly expressed in highly technical language or in maths. Are they necessarily vague, even misleading, or are some just perfect for the concept they express.
Key words - anomaly, controlled experiment, empirical, paradigm, principle of simplicity, pseudo-science, relativism, science worship
Science and pseudo-science - The natural science typically denotes ubjects like physics, chemistry and biology. What distinguishes a pseudo-science is that it claims the staus of science while lacking its substance.
The scientific method - The traditional picture of scientific method known as 'inductivism', science consists of five key steps : observation, hypothesis, experiment, law and theory
Conjectures and refutations - A conjecture is basically an imaginative hypothesis.
Science and society - The natural sciences are an amazing area of knowledge for the understanding they have given us of the world in which we live. They work towards communal agreement on the justifications for their knolwedge claims regardless of who is doing the obnserving and reasoning.
How rational is science ? - According to Kuhn, the progress of science is not as rational as is sometimes thought.
The social context also plays a role in the development of science and it may determine a scientist's choice of problems and the questions he or she is willing to investigate.
Science and truth - Although scientific beliefs change over time, it could be argued that each new theory is closer to the truth than the previous one
Science and scientism - The success of science and technology has led people to make extravagant claims about the scope of scientific knowledge. According to the 'scientism' view, science is the only way we can make sense of reality and discover the truth.
Natural science and religion - Athough scientists as people have beliefes of all kinds, and may personally accept or reject religion, the natural sciences as an area of knowledge deal only with the material natural world.
The variability of scientists - the methodology of sharing knowledge in the natural sciences benefits from the variability of the human beings who take on research. Multitudes of individual scientists, with their own particular strengts, contribute to collective enterprise.
Scientific language and the general public - When scientists communicate beyond their professional communities to the general public, misunderstandings frequently arise..
Communal nature of science - Science is shared knowledge, shared publicly, communally and internationally. Scientists exchange their personal understanding within their research team, and the research team exchanges knowledge with multiple research teams working on related topics worldwide.
Ethics: scientific fraud -
Science in action: chaos theory - This theory is in many ways a theory of order: it reveals a new kind of pattern within the turbulence of nature, which limits on the degree to which it can be predicted.
Changing theories - Given a theory's structural role in providing unified explanation of ideas, it has much in common with other perspectives on the world.
?? How can it be that scientific knowledge changes over time?
?? How can one decide when one model/explanation/theory is better than another?
?? What connotation does the word 'science' have for you? Are they positive, negative or mixed ?
?? How are scientists seen in popular culture, such as novels and movies? Are they generally seen has heroes or as villains?
?? To what extent do you find the in the sciences a refinement of simple curiosity about the world, such as children possess as they ask about the stars or animals?
?? To what extent is contemporary science in fact built by numerous cultures of the past?
?? What is the characteristic that serves to distinguish scientific knowledge from other kinds of knowledge? * What is the role of experiment in science? * What is the role of theory in science?
?? To what extent do you think astrology consists of genuinely testable propositions?
?? What truth, if any, do you think there is in the idea that older people are more conservative and suspicious of new ideas than younger people ?
?? How rational is science?
?? Is scientific knowledge progressive?
?? What role do metaphors play in science?
'Science is a way of thinking more than it is a body of knowledge' - Carl Sagan
'Science is a long history of learning how not to fool ourselves' - Richard Feynman
'Science does not give us a taste of the soup' - Albert Einstein
'All science is either physics or stamp collecting' - Ernest Rutherford
'As a matter of historical fact, the history of science is, by and large, a history of progress' - Karl Popper
'The arrogance of scientists is not nearly so dangerous as the arrogance that comes from ignorance' - Lewis Wolpert
'In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual' - Galileo Galilei
'Science is a way of describing reality; it is therefore limited by the limits of observation, and it asserts nothing which is outside observation.' - Jacob Bronowski
'Science does not tell us how to live' - Leo Tolstoy
'When you cannot measure, your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory.' - Lord Kelvin