by Nikolai V. Shokhirev
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Science is measurement, Great Discovery, How to make the right angle, From Alchemy to Chemistry,
Science is purified and extended measurement
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(Measurements: Everyday measurements, Direct and indirect measurements, Incomplete measurements, How to fool customers, How to handle indirect measurements)
Currently science is a very complex phenomenon. There are many definitions of science. Some of them are very broad, the other are specific. Trying to keep things simple, the essence of all the definitions is: science is a measurement.
The seven stages of research in the previous section can be combined into three major stages:
1 | pre-measurement |
Identification of a natural or social phenomenon (general question), Hypothesis formulation, Experimental design |
2 | measurement | Experimentation, Collecting data and information |
3 | post-measurement |
Analyzing data,
Interpretation, Publication (in Journals and books) |
Notion of measurement
Starting with Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Indians and Greeks, the necessity of the second stage in solving problems was understood. Performing actual measurements is usually not an easy task. However, the most fundamental scientific result is the introduction of the notion of measurement. From then on, it was considered unacceptable to make up a conclusion without measurements (direct ones or derived from previously established facts). Without this notion there is no science. This give us a reason to say that science is measurement.
Examples
The oldest science is mathematics. It began with the measurement of the quantity of objects or counting (one, two, many). Later it developed into arithmetic and then calculus.
Another old branch of mathematics is geometry. This Greek word (γεωμετρία) literally means "land measurement".
Pythagoras's theorem is one of the great scientific discoveries of mankind. It is know from the work of the famous Greek mathematician Pythagoras of Samos (Born: about 569 BC in Samos, Ionia; Died: about 475 BC). However, the theorem itself was discovered much earlier probably in the Old Babylonian Empire, which flourished in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) between 1900 BC and 1600 BC (http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/HistTopics/Babylonian_Pythagoras.html).
A translation of a Babylonian tablet which is preserved in The British Museum goes as
follows:
4 is the length and 5 the diagonal. What is the breadth ?
Its size is not known.
4 times 4 is 16.
5 times 5 is 25.
You take 16 from 25 and there remains 9.
What times what shall I take in order to get 9 ?
3 times 3 is 9.
3 is the breadth.
in the modern mathematical notation it is .
This theorem also was a great technological tool widely used in the ancient civilizations.
This theorem allows us to make a 90° angle using only a rope and a stick.
a rope and a stick |
right-angled triangle |
Now you can start building a pyramid, a temple, a palace or just a house.
This methods provides us with a mathematically exact 90° angle. Of course, the actual accuracy depends on the implementation.
Chemistry is another interesting example. For a long time, it was a sort of art or magic in Ancient Egypt and Babylon, and later in Europe. At that time, it was called Alchemy.
It became a science when the precise measurement methods were developed (for measuring mass, volume and temperature). To distinguish from the pre-scientific Alchemy, the name of the new science was changed to Chemistry.
In fact, science is something bigger than just measurement. Measurement and Science are in a relation similar to the relation of Common sense and Science: Science is a purified and extended measurement.
Raw measurements | Science |
Count | Arithmetic, Algebra, and so on |
Length, Angle and Time | Geometry, Astronomy, Navigation, etc. |
Length + Time + Mass | Mechanics, Physics |
Temperature + Pressure + Volume | Thermodynamics |
More measurements |
More Scientific fields |
Extended measurements are concepts based on the primary measurements. For example, the first level of abstraction for ordinary counting are the natural numbers (1, 2, 3, . . ). The higher levels are fractions, negative numbers (abstraction of debts), zero, complex numbers, irrational numbers and infinitely small and infinitely large numbers in increasing order of abstraction level. The concepts of the higher level extend the lower level abstractions and they are all ultimately based on a simple counting.
Scientists must be very experienced with measurements. What is actually known about the measurements? Here is a short summary.
To minimize these problems one should:
All this can be applied to our everyday life. This will be considered in more detail in the next section.
Please e-mail me at nikolai@shokhirev.com |
©Nikolai V. Shokhirev, 2002-2005