Scientific Therory

Omair Hameed.

SS-161- Science And Civilization.
Assignment #2.

Trace the development of the “Scientific Method” by examining relevant contributions
by Aristotle, Galileo, Lavoisier and Pasteur. Your answer should be approximately
500 words.

Scientific method is the way scientists learn and study the world around them. It is the process by which scientists work over a period of time to construct an accurate (i.e. reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary) representation of the world. In the study of natural phenomenon, personal and cultural beliefs strongly influence our interpretations and perceptions. Scientific method relies on standard procedures to minimize these influences when developing a theory.

Scientific method consists of four steps:
(1)- Making an observation of a phenomenon.
(2)- Formulating a hypotheses to explain the phenomenon.
(3)- Proving the hypotheses correct by a series of experiments and tests. If the experiments do not bear out the hypotheses, it must be rejected or modified.

Scientific method distinguishes from other forms of explanation because of its requirement of a scientific experimentation. Over the last few centuries there have been a large number of important discoveries. Various principles have been laid down and many rejected. Scientists have used the scientific method to get to their conclusions. Lets see how the scientific method evolved by examining a few contributions by some well renowned scientists.

Aristotle laid down the foundations of modern scientific thought. He had a great amount of curiosity regarding the natural world phenomena. Aristotle introduced syllogisms as a method of reasoning in which, a conclusion was derived through two axioms based on research data and observations. This system of syllogism can be said to be the basis of the scientific method. The usage of observations to derive at conclusions confirms Aristotle as a scientist under the modern definition. His biological observations such as those on the habits and development of the octopuses, and squids are truly remarkable. He also contributed towards the scientific development by introducing diagrams for illustrating complex anatomical relations.

Almost 2000 years later Galileo challenged Aristotle’s s work on mechanics and cosmology. Galileo did not ridicule Aristotle, but simply showed that he had jumped to the wrong conclusions and derived at inadequate answers because of his physics being not very mathematical. Errors in Aristotle’s work were rectified through direct observation and by the availability of new instruments and experimentation techniques in the 17th century. Amongst other contributions, Galileo contradicted Aristotle’s view that bodies naturally returned to their natural place. It is believed that Galileo demonstrated by throwing different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa that the weight of the bodies was irrelevant to their speed of falling and only the density of the medium counted.

Lavoisier interpreted facts discovered by others and corrected them for errors. He is considered the father of chemistry although he discovered no new chemical substances apart from a few new chemical facts. Lavoiser used to carry out a lot of experiments, quantify their results and take various precautionary measures. He studied Stahl\'s theory on combustion and found errors in reasoning. Stahl had given the concept ‘phlogiston’ for combustion but Lavoiser proved that no such thing existed. Lavoisier repeated Boyle\'s experiments which had showed an increase in the weight of cal of tin when tin was calcined in a closed glass vessel. By sealing the vessel during the experiment and taking careful readings Lavoisier proved the law of conservation of mass which says that an equal amount of matter exists before and after every operation.

Pasteur is primarily responsible for establishing the germ theory of disease. He carried out an astonishing variety of experiments involving microorganisms, which lead to him establishing the germ theory. He used microscopes for his research and experiments, and gave emphasis to sterilization. After a series of extensive experiments he discovered that yeast could live with or without oxygen and concluded that if no oxygen was provided the yeast took its oxygen from the sugar and caused fermentation.

In short, Aristotle contributed towards the scientific method by using reasoning to formulate theories. Galileo used reasoning together with experimentation. Lavosier focussed on extensive calculations and mathematics in deriving principles. And as far as Pasteur is concerned, he used a combination of all these namely: reasoning, experimenting and calculations to base scientific theories. Thus in this way the present day scientific method was developed.