In general, a scientific law is the description of an observed phenomenon; it does not explain why the phenomenon exists or what causes it; the explanation of a phenomenon is called a scientific theory; It is a mistake to believe that theories become laws with enough research.
“In science, laws are a starting point,” said Peter Coppinger, associate professor of biology and biomedical engineering at the RoseHulman Institute of Technology. “From there, scientists can ask the questions, ‘Why and how?’”
Scientific law versus theory and facts
Many people think that when scientists find evidence for a hypothesis, the hypothesis is upgraded to a theory, and when the theory, when it is designed to be correct, it is updated to a law. However, this does not work. In fact, facts, theories, and laws, and hypotheses, are separate parts of the scientific method. You can develop, but not upgrade to something else:
“Hypotheses, theories and laws are more like apples, oranges and kumquats: one cannot become the other, no matter how much fertilizer and water is offered,” says the University of California . A hypothesis is a limited explanation of a phenomenon; a scientific theory is a detailed explanation of the phenomenon observed. A law is a statement about an observed phenomenon or unifying concept, according to Kennesaw State University.
“There are four main concepts in science: facts, hypotheses, laws, and theories,” said Coppinger.
Although scientific laws and theories are backed by a large body of empirical data that is accepted and unified by most scholars in this area of scientific research, they are not the same.
“Laws are descriptions, often mathematical descriptions – from natural phenomena, for example Newton’s law of gravitation or Mendel’s law of independent distribution, these laws simply describe the observation. Not how or why they work, said Coppinger.
Coppinger noted that the law of gravity was discovered by Isaac Newton in the 17th century. This law describes mathematically how two different bodies in the universe interact with each other. But Newton’s law does not. To explain what gravity is or how it works.
It wasn’t until three centuries later, when Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity, that scientists began to understand what gravity is and how it works, and robots land on Mars. But it doesn’t explain how gravity works or what it is. Similarly, Mendel’s Law of Independent Choice describes how various traits are passed down from parent to child, not how or why this happens.
Another example of the difference between a theory and a law would be the case of Gregor Mendel. Mendel discovered that two different genetic traits appear independently of one another in different offspring. “However, Mendel didn’t know anything about DNA or chromosomes. It wasn’t until a century later that scientists discovered DNA and chromosomes, the biochemical explanation of Mendel’s laws. It was only then that scientists like T.H Morgan discovered the one with fruit flies, they explained, “the law of independent assortment using the theory of chromosomal inheritance. Even today this is the generally accepted explanation (theory) for Mendel’s law, ”said Coppinger.
The difference between scientific laws and scientific facts is slightly more difficult to define, although defining facts are simple, basic observations to be true. Laws are generalized observations about a relationship between two or more things in the natural world. The law can be based on proven facts and hypotheses, according to NASA.
For example, “There are five trees in my garden” takes fact into account because it is a simple statement that can be proven.”Apples fall from the tree in my garden and don’t fall up” is a law because it describes the behavior of two things in nature that have been observed under certain circumstances. When circumstances change, the law changes. In the vacuum of space, for example, the apple can float up instead of down from a tree.
Laws and Mathematics
Many scientific laws can be summarized in a mathematical equation. For example, Newton’s law of universal gravity says:
Fg = G (m1 ∙ m2) / d2
Fg is gravity; G is the universal gravitational constant that can be measured; m1 and m2 are the masses of the two objects and d is the distance between them, according to Ohio State University.
Another example of where math affects scientific law is in probabilities. “My favorite scientific law is that we live in a probabilistic, non-deterministic world. With large numbers, the probability always works. The house always wins, ”says Dr. Sylvia WassertheilSmoller. Professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine. “We can calculate the probability of an event and determine how certain we are of our estimate, but there is always a trade-off between precision and certainty. This is called the confidence interval. For example, we can be 95 percent sure that what we are trying to estimate is within a certain range, or can we be more certain, say 99 percent, that there is a compromise within a larger range.
Do the laws change?
Just because an idea becomes law doesn’t mean it can’t be changed through scientific research in the future. The use of the word “law” by laypeople and scholars varies. When most people speak of a law they mean something absolute. A scientific law is much more flexible. There can be exceptions, turn out to be incorrect, or evolve over time, according to the University of California.
“A good scientist is one who always asks, ‘How can I prove otherwise?” Said Coppinger. these laws. Exceptions have been found. For example, Newton’s law of gravity breaks down when looking at the quantum level (subatomic). Mendel’s law of independent distribution is broken when features are “linked” on the same chromosome.
- Midwestern State University: What to Expect, the Scientific Method and Metrics
- Kennesaw State University: Scientific Laws and Theories
- National Center for Science Education: Definitions of Fact, Theory, and Law in Scientific Work
Original article on Science Atom.