Astronomy & the Process of Science What makes something scientific? What makes Astronomy a science? Why is Astrology not science? Science or Non-Science? Could these be evaluated scientifically? The Yankees are the best baseball team of all time. Several kilometers below its surface, Jupiter’s moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water My house is haunted by ghosts who make creaking noises only I hear every night. Dogs are smarter than cats. Hallmarks of Science Seek explanations from natural causes Progresses through creation and testing of models of nature that explain observations as simply as possible. Makes testable predictions, and revises or abandons models if predictions don’t agree with observations. Science or Non-Science? The Yankees are the best baseball team of all time. testable, but depends upon definition of “Best” that is subjective Several kilometers below its surface, Jupiter’s moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water testable, but we don’t have technology yet My house is haunted by ghosts who make creaking noises only I hear every night. testable, but “supernatural” is not scientific Dogs are smarter than cats. testable, but depends upon definition of “smarter” that is subjective Science or Non-Science? Could these be evaluated scientifically? There is no liquid water on the surface of Mars today. Children born when Jupiter is in front of Taurus are more likely to be musicians than other children. Aliens can manipulate time so that they can abduct people and perform experiments on them without people every realizing they were taken. Science or Non-Science? Could these be evaluated scientifically? Newton’s law of gravity works as well for explaining orbits of planets around other stars as it does for planets in our own solar system. God created the laws of motion that were discovered by Newton. A huge fleet of alien spacecraft will land on Earth on January 1, 2020. The process of science… Observe “things” in nature Patterns (seasons repeat every year) Motions (planets move across the sky) Events (eclipses!) What isn’t there! (feeling like we are moving) Ask Questions What? When? Where? How? … and WHY? Research prior explanations & models Requires imagination to tell what is important The process of science… Create Explanations (Theories) Consistent with what is already known Able to predict events, observations, trends Develop TESTABLE hypotheses “Educated Guess” Specific, narrow focus Do the experiment Feynman: How not to be fooled…. The Scientific Method Analyze Results Most likely result: you can’t tell Next most likely: hypothesis is wrong! And if you are right…? Why aren’t you certain?? Always uncertainty in every measurement, and in every result. Experiment itself might not be able to tell. The Scientific Method Develop Conclusions based on data Anticipate sources of error Refine or Discard Hypothesis Develop further tests & Repeat! Compare results w/ existing theories Share preliminary results Submit a paper to peer-reviewed journal Ask colleagues for input Present at conferences Discuss, Debate, Defend results The Scientific Method Seek independent confirmation then… Revise Theories Do new experiments Develop new techniques, equipment, Publish again Astrology Consider your sunsign… Aries (Ram) Mar. 21 - Apr. 19 Libra (Scales) Sep. 23 - Oct. 22 Taurus (Bull) Apr. 20 - May 20 Scorpio (Scorpion) Oct. 23 - Nov. 21 Gemini (Twins) May 21 - Jun. 20 Sagittarius (Archer) Nov. 22 - Dec. 21 Cancer (Crab) Jun. 21 - Jul. 22 Capricorn (Goat) Dec. 22 - Jan. 19 Leo (Lion) Jul. 23 - Aug. 22 Aquarius (Water Bearer) Jan. 20 - Feb. 18 Virgo (Maiden) Aug. 23 - Sep. 22 Pisces (Fish) Feb. 19 - Mar. 20 The process of science… OK, so why isn’t Astrology a “science”??? Observe behavior trends Categorize into “signs” Create a theory – the planets and stars are responsible Test – read your horoscope! “That’s ME!!” Publish The process of science… Consider the following: “Here’s the pitch… and Bonds hits it high, hits it deep…it’s outta here! Barry Bonds is the best home run hitter in history.” From this one pitch, could you predict that on the next pitch he will hit a home run? The process of science… No…. You cannot make a valid conclusion from one instance where a theory does coincide with a prediction. Science demands continual testing. Science requires that if the prediction DOESN’T match the result, the theory must be modified! The process of science… Consider the following… “The planet is getting warmer and warmer. Volcanoes are responsible, not people.” The first part can be true. The second part might not be the whole story! The process of science… Astrology: Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified. The planets and stars are responsible. The process of science… Astrology: Personalities and actions of people can be studied, and similarities between people can be identified. The planets and stars are responsible. The first part can be true! Psychology! The second part is not. Summary: The Process of Science… observation of data, developing questions about trends, differences, & unique occurrences seen research into previous work on similar questions building models & creating testable hypotheses designing, & gathering new data through, experiments testing & refining the models based on the new data collected analysis of Summary: The Process of Science… modifying or discarding incorrect hypotheses developing interconnected hypotheses into theories sharing results with peers for independent evaluation and testing publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals so that the community of science can advance.