What Science Is and How It Works / Edition 1

What Science Is and How It Works / Edition 1

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by Gregory N. Derry
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691095507

ISBN-13: 9780691095509

Pub. Date: 03/04/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

How does a scientist go about solving problems? How do scientific discoveries happen? Why are cold fusion and parapsychology different from mainstream science? What is a scientific worldview? In this lively and wide-ranging book, Gregory Derry talks about these and other questions as he introduces the reader to the process of scientific thinking. From the discovery

Overview

How does a scientist go about solving problems? How do scientific discoveries happen? Why are cold fusion and parapsychology different from mainstream science? What is a scientific worldview? In this lively and wide-ranging book, Gregory Derry talks about these and other questions as he introduces the reader to the process of scientific thinking. From the discovery of X rays and semiconductors to the argument for continental drift to the invention of the smallpox vaccine, scientific work has proceeded through honest observation, critical reasoning, and sometimes just plain luck. Derry starts out with historical examples, leading readers through the events, experiments, blind alleys, and thoughts of scientists in the midst of discovery and invention. Readers at all levels will come away with an enriched appreciation of how science operates and how it connects with our daily lives.

An especially valuable feature of this book is the actual demonstration of scientific reasoning. Derry shows how scientists use a small number of powerful yet simple methods—symmetry, scaling, linearity, and feedback, for example—to construct realistic models that describe a number of diverse real-life problems, such as drug uptake in the body, the inner workings of atoms, and the laws of heredity.

Science involves a particular way of thinking about the world, and Derry shows the reader that a scientific viewpoint can benefit most personal philosophies and fields of study. With an eye to both the power and limits of science, he explores the relationships between science and topics such as religion, ethics, and philosophy. By tackling the subject of science from all angles, including the nuts and bolts of the trade as well as its place in the overall scheme of life, the book provides a perfect place to start thinking like a scientist.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691095509
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/04/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.77(d)

Table of Contents

PREFACE ix
PROLOGUE What Is Science? 3
PART I. EXPLORING THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE: HOW NEW DISCOVERIES ARE MADE IN THE SCIENCES 9
CHAPTER 1 A Bird's Eye View: The Many Routes to Scientific Discovery 11
CHAPTER 2 Nature's jigsaw: Looking for Patterns As a Key to Discovery 26
CHAPTER 3 New Vistas: Expanding Our World with Instrumentation 35
CHAPTER 4 Close, But No Cigar: Discrepancies As a Trigger to Discovery 42
CHAPTER 5 Ingredients for a Revolution: Thematic Imagination, Precise Measurements, and the Motions of the Planets 52
PART II. MENTAL TACTICS: SOME DISTINCTIVELY SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES TO THE WORLD 67
CHAPTER 6 A Universe in a Bottle: Models, Modeling, and Successive Approximation 69
CHAPTER 7 Thinking Straight: Evidence, Reason, and Critical Evaluation 89
CHAPTER 8 The Numbers Game: Uses of Quantitative Reasoning 107
PART III. LARGER QUESTIONS: THE CONTEXT OF SCIENCE 123
CHAPTER 9 Ultimate Questions: Science and Religion 125
CHAPTER 10 More Practical Questions: Science and Society 133
CHAPTER 11 Difficult and Important Questions: Science, Values, and Ethics 145
CHAPTER 12 Questions of Authenticity: Science, Pseudoscience, and How to Tell the Difference 158
CHAPTER 13 Contentious Questions: The Shadowy Borderlands of Science 174
CHAPTER 14 Very Abstract Questions: The Philosophy of Science 189
CHAPTER 15 Questions of Legitimacy: The Postmodern Critique of Science 207
PART IV COMMON GROUND: SOME UNIFYING CONCEPTS IN THE SCIENCES 215
CHAPTER 16 Fleas and Giants: Some Fascinating Insights about Area, Volume, and Size 217
CHAPTER 17 The Edge of the Abyss: Order and Disorder in the Universe 230
CHAPTER 18 Riding Blake's Tiger: Symmetry in Science, Art, and Mathematics 252
CHAPTER 19 The Straight and Narrow: Linear Dependence in the Sciences 274
CHAPTER 20 The Limits of the Possible: Exponential Growth and Decay 285
CHAPTER 21 In the Loop: Feedback, Homeostasis, and Cybernetics 295
EPILOGUE So, What Is Science? 303
INDEX 305

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What Science Is and How It Works 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, and I have used it as supplementary text very in 'Integrated Science', an introductory science class for non-technical college students. It would actually be a 5-star textbook if it included problems and exercises.