PHYS 1902 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Testability, Bmw 1 Series, Cosmological Principle

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15 Feb 2016
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1Lecture 1: The Scientific Method/Overview
of the Universe
Read chapter 1 in the textbook
Exercises: Do all Review and Discussion and all Conceptual Self-Test; Problems 1),
2), 3)
1.1 The Scientific Method
cornerstone of the modern science – only 350 years old
observation central to the method – emphasis on empirical studies
built on a foundation of doubt not on faith or authority
scientists weigh evidence to quantify the level of doubt in an idea
From observations scientists can build a theory
Theory
set of ideas to provide a logical framework of explanation for observations
makes predictions about future observations
usually rooted on a simple principle
Theories must possess the following characteristics:
Testability
theories must make specific predictions that can be falsified by observation
the strength of a theory rests in its falsifiability not its perceived correctness
Continual Testing
necessary to constantly challenge theories with new observations – experiments
can never prove a theory correct – the best we can say is that the theory fits all
known observations
can never be sure that a future clever experimentalist will not find an observation
that contradicts the theory
Consistency
if new phenomena implies the need for a new theory, the new theory must retain
the good predictions of the previous one
logical tightrope act
1
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