What are the main/fundamental ideas in science?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

Scientific method works in 5 stages:

  1. Asking the right question. "Why are some people blue eyed?" "How does a steam engine work?" "Why is sky blue?" You try to research existing answers and find out if those are satisfactory.
  2. Formulating a possible explanation. If the existing answers are unsatisfactory, you create a new hypothesis: "Sky is blue because the gas molecules in the atmosphere absorb short wavelengths and then radiate it."
  3. Predicting using the hypothesis. "Since the color is caused by gas molecules, the sky would not have any color when seen from a place with no atmosphere." You don't know this, but this would be the logical extension of your hypothesis.
  4. Testing your hypothesis. Now, you conduct your experiment to prove or disprove. You launch a satellite and take the photograph of space from there. If your hypothesis is true, it should be mostly black.
  5. Analyzing your results. Use various statistical tools to determine whether what you tested is statistically significant.

The key idea here is to create a testable hypothesis (stage 2) and then to create the right experiments that can either prove or disprove. You must be open to having your hypothesis disproved (Falsifiability) and be open to conducting a fair experiment (Statistical hypothesis testing).

Once you have done the five stages, you publish your results for others to see and comment upon. Using your raw data and methods they might want to recreate the experiment in their own labs or field and find if your prediction & analysis hold water.

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