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What Science Is and How It Works - Gregory N. Derry

What Science Is and How It Works

Paperback Published: 24th March 2002
ISBN: 9780691095509
Number Of Pages: 328

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How does a scientist go about solving problems? How do scientific discoveries happen? Why are cold fusion and parapsychology different from mainstream science? What is a scientific worldview? In this lively and wide-ranging book, Gregory Derry talks about these and other questions as he introduces the reader to the process of scientific thinking. From the discovery of X rays and semiconductors to the argument for continental drift to the invention of the smallpox vaccine, scientific work has proceeded through honest observation, critical reasoning, and sometimes just plain luck. Derry starts out with historical examples, leading readers through the events, experiments, blind alleys, and thoughts of scientists in the midst of discovery and invention. Readers at all levels will come away with an enriched appreciation of how science operates and how it connects with our daily lives.

An especially valuable feature of this book is the actual demonstration of scientific reasoning. Derry shows how scientists use a small number of powerful yet simple methods--symmetry, scaling, linearity, and feedback, for example--to construct realistic models that describe a number of diverse real-life problems, such as drug uptake in the body, the inner workings of atoms, and the laws of heredity.

Science involves a particular way of thinking about the world, and Derry shows the reader that a scientific viewpoint can benefit most personal philosophies and fields of study. With an eye to both the power and limits of science, he explores the relationships between science and topics such as religion, ethics, and philosophy. By tackling the subject of science from all angles, including the nuts and bolts of the trade as well as its place in the overall scheme of life, the book provides a perfect place to start thinking like a scientist.

Industry Reviews

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2000 "[There is] no better contemporary book to convey the unity of science and at the same time to stimulate further study."--Choice "Part textbook, part manifesto, Derry's book offers both entertainment and food for thought for readers inclined to learn the ways of science."--Gregory McNamee, Amazon.com "How does a scientist go about solving problems? How do scientific discoveries occur? How is mainstream science different from borderland science and pseudoscience? In this lively and wide-ranging book, Gregory Derry discusses these and other questions as he introduces readers to the scientific way of thinking... Readers of this book will come away with an enriched appreciation of how scientists operate, and how science connects with our daily lives."--Robert J. Deltete, The Quarterly Review of Biology

Prefacep. ix
Prologue: What Is Science?p. 3
Exploring the Frontiers of Science: How New Discoveries are Made in the Sciencesp. 9
A Bird's Eye View: The Many Routes to Scientific Discoveryp. 11
Nature's Jigsaw: Looking for Patterns As a Key to Discoveryp. 26
New Vistas: Expanding Our World with Instrumentationp. 35
Close, But No Cigar: Discrepancies As a Trigger to Discoveryp. 42
Ingredients for a Revolution: Thematic Imagination, Precise Measurements, and the Motions of the Planetsp. 52
Mental Tactics: Some Distinctively Scientific Approaches to the Worldp. 67
A Universe in a Bottle: Models, Modeling, and Successive Approximationp. 69
Thinking Straight: Evidence, Reason, and Critical Evaluationp. 89
The Numbers Game: Uses of Quantitative Reasoningp. 107
Larger Questions: the Context of Sciencep. 123
Ultimate Questions: Science and Religionp. 125
More Practical Questions: Science and Societyp. 133
Difficult and Important Questions: Science, Values, and Ethicsp. 145
Questions of Authenticity: Science, Pseudoscience, and How to Tell the Differencep. 158
Contentious Questions: The Shadowy Borderlands of Sciencep. 174
Very Abstract Questions: The Philosophy of Sciencep. 189
Questions of Legitimacy: The Postmodern Critique of Sciencep. 207
Common Ground: Some Unifying Concepts in the Sciencesp. 215
Fleas and Giants: Some Fascinating Insights about Area, Volume, and Sizep. 217
The Edge of the Abyss: Order and Disorder in the Universep. 230
Riding Blake's Tiger: Symmetry in Science, Art, and Mathematicsp. 252
The Straight and Narrow: Linear Dependence in the Sciencesp. 274
The Limits of the Possible: Exponential Growth and Decayp. 285
In the Loop: Feedback, Homeostasis, and Cyberneticsp. 295
Epilogue: So, What Is Science?p. 303
Indexp. 305
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691095509
ISBN-10: 0691095507
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 24th March 2002
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.47 x 15.49  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.47