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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.

Selected article

This long range RADAR antenna, known as ALTAIR, is used to detect and track space objects in conjunction with ABM testing at the Ronald Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein atoll.
RADAR is a system that uses radio waves to determine and map the location, direction, and/or speed of both moving and fixed objects such as aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, weather formations and terrain. A transmitter emits radio waves, which are reflected by the target and detected by a receiver, typically in the same location as the transmitter. Although the radio signal returned is usually very weak, radio signals can easily be amplified, so radar can detect objects at ranges where other emissions, such as sound or visible light, would be too weak to detect. Radar is used in many contexts, including meteorological detection of precipitation, air traffic control, police detection of speeding traffic, and by the military.

The term RADAR was coined in 1941 as an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. This acronym of American origin replaced the previously used British abbreviation RDF (Radio Direction Finding). The term has since entered the English language as a standard word, radar, losing the capitalization in the process.

Selected picture

Wake Vortex Study at Wallops Island
Credit: NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC)

Wake turbulence, also known as "jetwash", is turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. This turbulence can be especially hazardous during the landing and take off phases of flight, where an aircraft's proximity to the ground makes a timely recovery from turbulence-induced problems unlikely. Wingtip vortices make up the primary and most dangerous component of wake turbulence, but normal wake effects are also an important part. A method of reducing wingtip vortices employs the use of winglets.

Selected biography

Portrait of Galilei Galileo by Giusto Sustermans.
Galileo Galilei (February 15, 1564 – January 8, 1642) was an Italian physicist, astronomer, and philosopher who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope, a variety of astronomical observations, the first and second laws of motion, and effective support for Copernicanism. According to Stephen Hawking, Galileo has contributed more to the creation of the modern natural sciences than anybody else. He is the "father of modern astronomy," the "father of modern physics," and the "father of science." The work of Galilei is considered to be a significant break from that of Aristotle.

Did you know...

Golden Lion Tamarin

  • ...that the Witch's hat is the common name of a colourful orange-red toadstool?
  • ...that Derek Freeman was an anthropologist whose refutation of Margaret Mead's work "ignited controversy of a scale, visibility, and ferocity never before seen in anthropology"?

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