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An Understanding of How Science Progresses

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As the lecture began I kept in mind the topic of the lecture ”How Science Progresses” as I realized it is a helpful tool while internalizing what is being taught. This lecture continued to build on previous lectures with the nature of scientific inquiry being looked at first. This term was completely alien to me, but I kept an open mind to the area of study. I understood that ideas arise out of observations, which are conducted through experimentation. After being informed that laws, models and theories are generated through ideas, I began to understand more clearly how each step in the process forms a basis for the others to build upon. I must research this further and comprehensively grasp the concept to be able to implement it in my future studies. In addition to this, I was able to clarify the differences between science and other sources of knowledge. Science is said to utilize tools such as reason, observation and experimentation to build knowledge over time. I realized this is what distinguishes it from other forms of knowledge.

I previously believed science was fixated and not prone to change, causing this to be a very enlightening moment for me. Science is said to constantly progress by acquiring and accumulating knowledge over time. I learned theories concepts and methods are continuously progressing. I was unable to fully understand how these things change as such I must further research this area. Thankfully, by comparing scientific progress to building a wall, my doubts were considerably clarified. A brief overview on some scientists who assisted in scientific progress over time was done. Thomas Kuhn focussed on the scientific revolution and why theories are accepted and also replaced in the future.

Several other key scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Pascal, among others, were noted as pioneers of the scientific revolution for their accomplishments in their respective fields. I was amazed that those individuals made scientific progress at those times and it continues in present day. Afterwards, the concept of a paradigm was explained. I understood paradigms to be a fixed way of thinking, which entails fundamental beliefs that scientists utilize as a basis to conduct research. The example of the belief that the earth was composed of four main elements, while now it is widely accepted that the earth is composed of several chemical elements, was excellent in showing me a real world example of a paradigm shift. I was enthused learning about the Gestalt Shift as a concept about the ability of the brain to change its perception of certain things. It never occurred to me that the brain organizes forms into a logical sequence for us to visualize figures. This was quite exciting to internalize. The focus shifted back to the scientific revolution to distinguish the different forms of scientific activity. Normal science I understood to be what inquiry takes place within the paradigm, while extraordinary science extends beyond the paradigm. The theory of continental drift was then expanded on. It was also used as an example of a paradigm shift, where it was previously believed the continents were always in their current position.

Scientist Alfred Wegner disproved this and brought forward evidence that the earth was once one supercontinent referred to as Pangaea. Alfred Wegner dedicated his life to prove his theory and after being opposed by other scientists brought forward several pieces of conclusive evidence which eventually gained him acceptance of his theory. This was a recap of a theory which I was briefly taught in primary and secondary school and proved to be quite exciting and informative. I especially admire Mr. Wegner for his dedication to his field of study, so much that he lost his life while doing research for it. It was inspiring for me as I hope to be a future success in my field of study.

To conclude a brief look at plate tectonics and Darwin’s theory of evolution was done. Plate tectonics was a captivating study which I was fascinated by. It said the earth is made up of several layers and plates which move. This movement is what causes geographical phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes. The theory of evolution questioned the previous belief that all lifeforms were created. It says all species have evolved from simple life forms. These are both excellent examples of major paradigm shifts which have occurred over time.

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