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The Science Portal

Science is the methodical study of nature including testable explanations and predictions. From classical antiquity through the 19th century, science as a type of knowledge was more closely linked to philosophy than it is now and, in fact, in the Western world, the term "natural philosophy" encompassed fields of study that are today associated with science, such as astronomy, medicine, and physics. However, during the Islamic Golden Age foundations for the scientific method were laid by Ibn al-Haytham in his Book of Optics. While the classification of the material world by the ancient Indians and Greeks into air, earth, fire and water was more philosophical, medieval Middle Easterns used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

Today, the ever-evolving term "science" refers to the pursuit of knowledge, not the knowledge itself. It is often synonymous with "natural and physical science" and often restricted to those branches of study relating to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws. Although the term implies exclusion of pure mathematics, many university faculties include Mathematics Departments within their Faculty of Science. The dominant sense in ordinary use has a narrower use for the term "science." It developed as a part of science becoming a distinct enterprise of defining the "laws of nature"; early examples include Kepler's laws, Galileo's laws, and Newton's laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as "natural science." Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. For example, psychology evolved from philosophy, and has grown into an area of study.

Currently, there are both "hard" (e.g. biological psychology) and "soft" science (e.g. social psychology) fields within the discipline. As a result, and as is consistent with the unfolding of the study of knowledge and development of methods to establish facts, each area of psychology employs a scientific method. Reflecting the evolution of the development of knowledge and established facts and the use of the scientific method, Psychology Departments in universities are found within: Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Arts, and a Faculty of Science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.

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Molecular model of hydrogen chloride
Hydrogen chloride, also known under the name HCl, is a highly corrosive and toxic colorless gas that forms white fumes on contact with humidity. These fumes consist of hydrochloric acid which forms when hydrogen chloride dissolves in water. Hydrogen chloride gas as well as hydrochloric acid are important chemicals in chemistry, science, technology, and industry. The name HCl often refers somewhat misleadingly to hydrochloric acid instead of the gaseous hydrogen chloride.

Hydrogen chloride forms corrosive hydrochloric acid on contact with body tissue. Inhalation of the fumes can cause coughing, choking, inflammation of the nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, and in severe cases, pulmonary edema, circulatory system failure, and death. Skin contact can cause redness, pain, and severe skin burns. Hydrogen chloride may cause severe burns to the eye and permanent eye damage.

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Sonoluminescence is the emission of light by bubbles in a liquid excited by sound.
Credit: Dake

Sonoluminescence is the emission of short bursts of light from imploding bubbles in a liquid when excited by sound. The effect was first discovered at the University of Cologne in 1934 as a result of work on sonar. H. Frenzel and H. Schultes put an ultrasound transducer in a tank of photographic developer fluid. They hoped to speed up the development process. Instead, they noticed tiny dots on the film after developing, and realized that the bubbles in the fluid were emitting light with the ultrasound turned on. It was too difficult to analyze the effect in early experiments because of the complex environment of a large number of short-lived bubbles. (This experiment is also ascribed to N. Marinesco and J.J. Trillat in 1933).

Sonoluminescence may or may not occur whenever a sound wave of sufficient intensity induces a gaseous cavity within a liquid to quickly collapse. This cavity may take the form of a pre-existing bubble, or may be generated through a process known as cavitation. Sonoluminescence in the laboratory can be made to be stable, so that a single bubble will expand and collapse over and over again in a periodic fashion, emitting a burst of light each time it collapses.

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Claudius Galenus of Pergamum
Claudius Galenus of Pergamum (129-200 AD), better known in English as Galen, was an ancient Greek physician. His views dominated European medicine for over a thousand years. From the modern viewpoint, Galen's theories were partially correct and partially flawed: he demonstrated that arteries carry blood rather than air, and conducted the first studies of nerve, brain, and heart function. He also argued that the mind was in the brain, not in the heart as Aristotle had claimed.

However, much of Galen's understanding is flawed from the modern point of view. For example, he did not recognize blood circulation and thought that venous and arterial systems were separate. This view did not change until William Harvey's work in the 17th century.

Did you know...

Laser harp

  • ...that a laser harp (pictured) is an electronic musical instrument consisting of several laser beams that are blocked to produce sound?

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