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Canada (162,462)
EESA06H3 (234)
Lisa Tutty (13)
Chapter 1


7 Pages

Environmental Science
Course Code
Lisa Tutty

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Chapter 1 EESA06 THE SCOPE OF EARTH SCIENCE - scientists collect data on natural phenomena such as tsunami, but it is often politicians (and indirectly, people who elect them) who determine what actions should be taken to protect the public - Earth science can be broadly defined as the investigation of interactions among the four parts of the earth system - the atmosphere (air, weather), hydrosphere (water, ice), biosphere (plants, animals) and geosphere (land, rocks); together these components form an elegant support system for life - in addition, the sun and assorted features from space, collectively termed the exosphere interact with the earth system and are sometimes considered a 5th earth system component - example: 2004 tsunami: involved 3 of the components: hydrosphere (ocean), geosphere (sea floor earthquake) and biosphere (people, plants, animals) - Figure 1.4, Figure 1.3 (p6) - science is not a list of facts to be memorized that have no relevance to your life; the only way to understand how to think like a scientist is to learn to use the skills of scientific reasoning; science is process, a way of thinking about the natural world YOUR STUDY OF EARTH SCIENCE (skip) 1.2 WHAT IS SCIENCE? - Key point: science is a process of discovery, a way of thinking about the world around us, and that increases our body of knowledge - earth scientists combine their basic knowledge of facts and concepts with tehcnical skills to explore Earth and solve its mysteries. - the real essence of science is a detective story in which teams of investigators piece together evidence to generate well-founded explanations of the workings of Earth; scientists constantly refine or challenge these explanations, causing some to be discarded while others gain wide acceptance; people's imaginations and physical laws of nature present the only limits to science SCIENCE IN FULL VIEW - The example of the Hutchinson gas explosions (p8-p9) shows that scientific investigations are driven forward by the curiosity and presistence of scientists who systematically rule out potential solutions to arrive at an explanation. This example also illustrates that science doesn't have unlimited reosurces, personnel or time. In some cases, it may be necessary to walk away and settle for the best answer available under the circumstances. 1.3 DOING SCIENCE - Key points: 1. Scientists use observations to form testable hypotheses, 2. There are four basic principles to remember when conducting a scientific investigation - science advances by the application of the scientific method, a systematic approach to answering questions about the natural world; scientific method implies that sufficient observation will reveal patterns that provide clues to the origin and history of Earth. We assume that components of universe interact in consistent, predictable ways. Scientists use their observations as an aid in predicting future events in the earth systems and sometimes in universe. FROM OBSERVATION TO HYPOTHESIS - scientists use observations to shape ideas (aka hypotheses) - hypothesis is a testable explanation of facts or observations - personal observations may vary with the individual, but valid scientific observations are empirical - that is, they can be measured and confirmed by others INDUCTIVE AND DEDUCTIVE REASONING - steps that scientific method can include: making observations, forming and testing hypotheses, developing predictions, planning and conducting experiments, analyzing data and evaluating results - a scientific hypothesis is developed to provide a potential explanation of observations. - hypotheses can be generated and tested using 2 basic procedures: 1) inductive reasoining and 2) deductive reasoning 1. inductive reasoning: drawing general conclusions from specific observations; success of this method comes from recognizing patterns and identifying similarities between comparable systems 2. deductive reasoning: using general principle(s) to reach a specific conclusion Example: 1. All hurricanes form as low atmospheric pressure systems over oceans. Hurricane Harry is forming in the Atlantic. Hurricane Harry is a low-pressure system. - starts with general statement about hurricane and concludes with specifci statement about single hurricane => deductive reasoning: general to specific 2. Three massive hurricanes caused large amounts of damage to US during the 2005 hurricane season. Hurricane Katrina had a pressure of 902 mbar, Rita 898 mbar, Wilma 882mbar. Therefore, massive hurricanes with air pressures of around 900 mbar or les wil cause large amounts of damage if they make landfall - starts with specific data (Air pressures) and ends with general conclusion => inductive reasoning: specific to general - most science involves both reasoning FROM HYPOTHESIS TO THEORY - the best hypotheses are logical and can be readily tested by experiment or by more observation; continued observations overtime either confirm that hypothesis accurate or reval that it needs to be refined or rejected; new information sometimes becomes available with development of more complex technology - an initial hypothesis is a reasonable explanation on the basis of currents cience and needs further examination - once a hypothesis is "bulked up with" supporting facts and observations, it may become a theory - a scientific theory is a "well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences and tested hypotheses."; is a well- supported explanation of a natural phenomenon - scientific laws are statments that are so strongly supported by theory and observations that they are considered unchanging in nature - the willingness to continually question prevailing ideas and to modify or discard them as new information becomes available is the strength of science; the work of every scientist relies on work done by others in past; in a constant changing world, hypotheses/theories can be modified, but none can ever be completely proved CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD SCIENCE 1. Principle: Scientific explanations are provisional (tentative) and can and do change - many changes occur in details of scientific explanations, instead of major concepts - example: new data on bodies orbiting at the fringe of the solar system resulted in the reclassification of PLuto to a dwarf planet 2. Principle: scientific explanations should be predictable and testable - in science (and to do science), one must be able to test a hypothesis or theory to determine if it could be false; scientists construct hypotheses or a theory to explain nature and then argue that the work is not science unless their idea has the potential to be false; - sciecne deals with the physical world. - when hypothesis proposed, think that it is true; any additional experiments or observations either support hypothesis or show its false; science progresses as hypotheses and theories are tested and shown to be supported or not 3. Principle: Scientific explanations are based on observations or experiments that are reproducible - empirical, reproducible data are used to support or refute a hypothesis - scientific results are discussed openly at conferences and published in journals so that all ideas are exposed to review by other scienti
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