# GENERAL SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, AND TECHNOLOGY

What is the difference between science and technology?

Science and technology are related disciplines but have different goals. The basic goal of science is to acquire a fundamental knowledge of the natural world. Outcomes of scientific research are the theorems, laws, and equations that explain the natural world. It is often described as pure science. Technology is the quest to solve problems in the natural world with the ultimate goal of improving humankind’s control of their environment. Technology is, therefore, often described as applied science; applying- ing the laws of science to specific problems. The distinction between science and technology blurs since many times researchers investigating a scientific problem will discover a practical application for the knowledge they acquire.

What is the scientific method?

The scientific method is the basis of scientific investigation. A scientist will pose a question and formulate a hypothesis as a potential explanation or answer to the question. The hypothesis will be tested through a series of experiments. The results of the experiments will either prove or disprove the hypothesis. Hypotheses that are consistent with available data are conditionally accepted.

What are the steps of the scientific method?

1. State a hypothesis.

2. Design an experiment to “prove” the hypothesis.

3. Assemble the materials and set up the experiment.

4. Do the experiment and collect data.

5. Analyze the data using quantitative methods.

6. Draw conclusions.

7. Write up and publish the results.

Who is one of the first individuals associated with the scientific method?

Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham (c. 966–1039), whose name is usually Latinized to Alhazen or Alhacen, is known as the “father” of the science of optics and was also one of the earliest experimental scientists. Between the tenth and fourteenth centuries, Muslim scholars were responsible for the development of the scientific method. These individuals were the first to use experiments and observation as the basis of science, and many historians regard science as starting during this period. Alhazen is considered the architect of the scientific method.

His scientific method involved the following steps:

1. Observation of the natural world

2. Stating a definite problem

3. Formulating a hypothesis

4. Test the hypothesis through experimentation

5. Assess and analyze the results

6. Interpret the data and draw conclusions

7. Publish the findings

What is a variable?

A variable is something that is changed or altered in an experiment. For example, to determine the effect of light on plant growth, growing one plant in a sunny window and one in a dark closet will provide evidence as to the effect of light on plant growth. The variable is light.

How does an independent variable differ from a dependent variable?

An independent variable is manipulated and controlled by the researcher. A dependent variable is a variable that the researcher watches and/or measures. It is called the dependent variable because it depends upon and is affected by the independent variable. For example, a researcher may investigate the effect of sunlight on plant growth by exposing some plants to eight hours of sunlight per day and others to only four hours of sunlight per day. The plant growth rate is dependent upon the amount of sunlight, which is controlled by the researcher.

What is a control group?

A control group is an experimental group tested without changing the variable. For example, to determine the effect of temperature on seed germination, one group of seeds may be heated to a certain temperature. The percent of seeds in this group that germinates and the time it takes them to germinate is then compared to another group of seeds (the control group) that has not been heated. All other variables, such as light and water, will remain the same for each group.

What is a double-blind study?

In a double-blind study, neither the subjects of the experiment nor the persons administering the experiment know the critical aspects of the experiment. This method is used to guard against both experimenter bias and placebo effects.

How does deductive reasoning differ from inductive reasoning?

Deductive reasoning, often used in mathematics and philosophy, uses general principles to examine specific cases. Inductive reasoning is the method of discovering general principles by close examination of specific cases. Inductive reasoning first became important to science in the 1600s, when Francis Bacon (1561–1626), Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), and their contemporaries began to use the results of specific experiments to infer general scientific principles.

How do scientific laws differ from theories?

A scientific law is a statement of how something in nature behaves, which has proven to be true every time it is tested. Unlike the general usage of the term “theory,” which often means an educated guess, a scientific theory explains a phenomenon that is based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning. Scientific laws do not become theories. A scientific theory may explain a law, but theories do not become laws.

What is high technology or high tech?

This buzz term used mainly by the lay media (as opposed to scientific, medical, or technological media) appeared in the late 1970s. It was initially used to identify the newest, “hottest” application of technology to fields such as medical research, genetics, automation, communication systems, and computers. It usually implied a distinction between technology to meet the information needs of society and traditional heavy industry, which met more material needs. By the mid–the 1980s, the term had become a catch-all applying primarily to the use of electronics (especially computers) to accomplish everyday tasks.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is a relatively new field of science that aims to understand the matter at dimensions between 1 and 100 nanometers. Nanomaterials may be engineered or occur in nature. Some of the different types of nanomaterials, named for their individual shape and dimensions, are nanoparticles, nanotubes, and nanofilms. Nanoparticles are bits of material where all the dimensions are nanosized. Nanotubes are long cylindrical strings of molecules whose diameter is nanosized. Nanofilms have a thickness that is nanosized, but the other dimensions may be larger. Researchers are developing ways to apply nanotechnology to a wide variety of fields, including transportation, sports, electronics, and medicine. Specific applications of nanotechnology include fabrics with added insulation without additional bulk. Other fabrics are treated with coatings to make them stain-proof. Nanorobots are being used in medicine to help diagnose and treat health problems. In the field of electronics, nanotechnology could shrink the size of many electronic products. Researchers in the food industry are investigating the use of nanotechnology to enhance the flavor of food. They are also searching for ways to introduce antibacterial nanostructures into food packaging.

How large is a nanometer?

A nanometer equals one billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. As a comparison, a single-walled carbon nanotube, measuring one nanometer in diameter, is 100,000 times smaller than a single strand of human hair which measures 100 micrometers in diameter.

What is a patent?

A patent grants the property rights of an invention to the inventor. Once a patent is issued, it excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention in the United States. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues three types of patents:

• Utility patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, the machine, manufactured article, compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any of the above.
• Design patents are granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
• Plant patents are granted to anyone who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced any distinct and new variety of plant.

When was the first patent issued in the United States?

The first U.S. patent was granted on July 31, 1790, to Samuel Hopkins (1743–1818) of Philadelphia for making “potash and pearl ash”—a cleaning formula called potash. It was a key ingredient for making glass, dyeing fabrics, baking, making saltpeter for gun powder, and most importantly for making soap.

How many patents have been issued by the U.S. Patent Office?

Over seven million patents have been granted by the U.S. Patent Office since its inception in 1790. In recent years, the number of patents issued on a yearly basis has risen dramatically. The following chart shows the numbers of patents of all types (utility, design, plant, and reissue) issued for selected years:

Year  - Total Number of Patents Granted

1970 67,964

1975 76,810

1980 66,170

1985 77,245

1990 99,077

1995 113,834

2000 175,979

2005 157,718

2008 185,224

Who is the only U.S. president to receive a patent?

On May 22, 1849, 12 years before he became the sixteenth U.S. president, Abraham L in coln (1809–1865), was granted U.S. patent number 6,469 for a device to help steamboats pass over shoals and sandbars. The device was never tested or manufactured, had a set of adjustable buoyancy chambers (made from metal and waterproof cloth) attached to the ship’s sides below the waterline. Bellows could fill the chambers with air to float the vessel over the shoals and sand bars. It was the only patent ever held by a United States president.