05.22.2019: One Chapter of Science - Thinking Like a Scientist

Today's soundtrack is Samael: Above, an industrial-sounding modern black metal album.

So I've completed my high-school level math courses and taken a few much-needed days off. What's next? Well, in the fall, my plan is to tackle high school science and start on university-level math. To prepare, I'm going to focus on working my way through two books by September: Silvanus P. Thompson's Calculus Made Easy, and Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook.

Today, I'm starting on the latter book's first chapter, titled "Thinking Like a Scientist."

There are several interconnected branches of science that we will be learning about:

1) Life science, the study of life (also called biology)

2) Earth science, the study of earth and space

3) Physical science, the study of matter and energy (includes physics and chemistry)

- Physics investigates the effects of energy on matter

- Chemistry looks at how matter can be transformed

Scientists make scientific inquiries to learn about the world around us. To solve their inquiries, they use the scientific method, which is a multi-step process:

1) Come up with a question about something

2) Research the topic

3) Make a prediction about what the answer is (a hypothesis)

4) Observe real-world examples and/or set up simulations to experiment on

5) Record the findings with either quantitative (number) data or qualitative (narrative) data

6) Compare results with the hypothesis

- If the hypothesis was proved true, and the proof can be replicated, scientists can develop a theory to explain why the hypothesis was proved true - If the hypothesis was repeatedly verified, scientists can say that it is a law, which tells us what will happen under certain conditions

- If the hypothesis was false, formulate a new one and start over from step 4

If scientists need to represent something that is not feasible to observe and analyze in real life, they will use models to represent the subject matter and then they can extrapolate information from that. Mathematical models, computer models, and physical models can all be used.


  1. The three main branches of science are life science, earth science, and physical science. Life science is the study of living things (plants, animals, people); earth science is the study of our planet and the objects beyond our atmosphere; physical science includes physics and chemistry, and is the study of the interactions between energy and matter.

  2. The basic steps of scientific inquiry are: 1) Come up with a question, 2) Do some research, 3) Make a hypothesis, 4) Observe and record, 5) Analyze results, 6) Compare with hypothesis

  3. A hypothesis is a prediction about a reaction to an action in certain environments.

  4. If an observation does not support a hypothesis, we should make a new hypothesis.

  5. Evidence is used in scientific investigations to give us either quantitative or qualitative data.

  6. A scientific theory and a scientific law are both based on repeated confirmations of a hypothesis; however, a theory will tell us why something happens, whereas a law tells us what will happen.

  7. Models are physical, mathematical, or computer representations of scenarios that let scientists test hypotheses that aren't feasible to test at their natural scale

  8. An example of a physical model is a globe; an example of a computer model is a volcano simulation; an example of a mathematical model is a quadratic equation that predicts the x-intercepts of a projectile.

That's it for today! In the next chapter, we'll be looking at experiments.