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Q: The evolution of science ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: The evolution of science
Category: Science
Asked by: osxii-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 07 May 2003 10:31 PDT
Expires: 06 Jun 2003 10:31 PDT
Question ID: 200693
How does science evolve?  What are some examples of scientific
Subject: Re: The evolution of science
Answered By: feilong-ga on 07 May 2003 12:29 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Osxii,

The answer to your question depends on your definition of science. If
you define science as an absolute equal to the word "knowledge", the
answer to your question is it did not evolve. It's already there for
us to explore and understand since the beginning. On this proposition,
it would be inaccurate to say that science cannot explain everything.
There is a science behind everything that exists and behind everything
that happens. It is only our limited comprehension that is preventing
us from understanding the science involved. Over the course of time,
people who study that which is "incomprehensible" soon learn and they
share what they learned to others until the "incomprehensible" becomes
an everyday scienctific fact. The fact that something has been
existing before the time people actually learned to understand the
things involved behind that which was "incomprehensible" clearly shows
that the science behind it already existed from the very beginning. We
simply just didn't understand it yet.

If you define science based on scholastic terms as a systematic body
of knowledge acquired through careful study, or basically, a series of
steps used to understand or gain knowledge. Science will then be a
word used to define an ongoing hit and miss process. Scientific
evolution will now be the case.

Here are some links will explain things for you:
(The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2002 Columbia
University Press)

MadSci Network: Science History
What is Science

What is Science?

This link describes scientific evolution including some scientific

School of Computer Science and Engineering - Universidad Autónoma de
The myth of progress in the evolution of Science

You may also read this interesting book about significant
breakthroughs in science:

John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Eureka!: Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World

In case you need more reading materials on this subject, you can find
them through the links below.

Search strategy:

"evolution of science"

"what is science"

"how science evolved"

"scientific breakthroughs"

I hope this helps you. Should you have any comments/questions, please
feel free to post your clarification before rating this and I'll
attend to you as soon as possible. Thanks for asking.

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by osxii-ga on 07 May 2003 21:49 PDT
The answer is looking good although it seems a bit vague.  I will
narrow my question a bit if that's ok:

By how does science evolve I mean like for example, early
civilizations had few scientists working on problems.  Different
countries were isolated so they all discovered things independently
which wasn't too efficient.  Later they were able to trade knowledge
and work together, etc.  up to today, where science is done in
organized institutions, papers are peer reviewed world wide. etc.

Could you find some information on that please?

Also, sometimes science evolves by freak chance: e.g. penicillin. 
Sometimes by longterm group efforts (genome perhaps?) sometimes by
other methods.

Could you perhaps find some information on stuff like that?

Thanks you very much.

Clarification of Answer by feilong-ga on 13 May 2003 10:09 PDT
Thanks for your clarification. I'm so sorry I'm able to reply only
now. My DSL service provider had a major problem in their system that
affected my both my line and service area. I was not able to surf for
quite sometime. Anyway, everything seems to be back to normal and now
I can reply to your clarification.

It's not vague, really. I gave you two different views about science.
To simplify, the first one implies that if you define science as an
absolute equal to knowledge, then science did not evolve - it's
already there for us to understand. The second one implies that if you
define science as absolute equal to learning, then science has to
evolve because learning is a continuous process and that it is our way
of gaining knowledge. Since it your view of science is that of a
learning process and has to evolve, I'll try to provide you
information as you requested.

Although not exactly the thing you requested, the following excerpts
will help give you ideas on how science evolved. If possible, please
read the whole articles for more information.

"The history and philosophy of science over the last forty years have
completely upset the traditional view of how science developed and
what it really means. Instead of the traditional idea of there being
objective unchanging truth, which was arrived at by trial and error
through critical experiments based on incontrovertible facts, we now
have a more fruitful picture of various natural philosophies in
continual competition with each other. From their alternating
successes, we have moved towards conceptualising, quantifying and
mathematising the various phenomena. These are, however, parts of
alternative conceptual systems and can no longer be considered as
crucial by themselves. Factors which in the past were excluded, such
as the cultural, institutional and social contexts in which scientists
live, as well as their personal preference for one or other natural
philosophy, are nowadays considered essential to proceeding in a
particular research direction. In place of the traditional view of the
objectivity of science, we have a concept which gives plenty of space
to the subjectivity of the scientist. Obviously we can still talk
about truth and intersubjectivity, but within the accepted paradigms,
and, apart from the cognitive aspects, those of fertility and
efficiency are emphasised.

A much more appropriate metaphor than the reductionist one concerning
basic elements is that of intersecting matrices of disciplines. This
ties up with the idea of knots in ever-widening networks. The picture
of science which results from these considerations is knowledge of the
History of Science including innovation (invention, conceptualisation,
discovery) , justification (logical development, quantifying and
mathematisation) and experimental corroboration ( testing for truth or

(Ex cerpted from The research of Pavia University's History and
Didactics Group from the "A.Volta" Department of Physics)

"Humans have been guilty of many irrational views, but they are often
only irrational in the retrospective context of their failures and
shortcomings. Ideas and actions were often as rational as could have
been expected within the existing limits of knowledge and conceptual
development. Most of humanity’s history has been an attempt to
understand and explain within the limits that existed at the time. For
example, it was not so irrational for primitive peoples to think that
disease was caused by "evil spirits." After all, bacteria and viruses
are invisible and act in what were incomprehensible ways. In the
not-too-distant past the present-day description of viruses, bacteria
and genetic defects would have made no sense to anyone. The concepts
required to explain such things simply did not exist and the evidence
was not available. It took centuries to develop the required tools and
concepts. Evil spirits actually made more sense in the context of the
time because the conceptual and evidential framework for the chemical
and genetic basis of viral function wasn’t even close to evolving.
Besides, the evil spirit idea wasn’t completely irrational. When we
say that viral infection occurs when "invisible
not-really-alive/not-really-dead agents invade the body and take over
the reproductive essence of life itself" it certainly sounds like an
evil spirit. The difference between the old view and the new is
primarily the depth of understanding. Another example is the notion
that the sun traveled around the earth. It took centuries of
observation, mathematical development and creative effort to get to
the point where the heliocentric model was a logically viable
explanation. Earlier models were useful and accurate enough, for
awhile. Then, in response to inconsistencies with the evidence, an
accurate description of the system was eventually generated. We are in
a similar situation in many "cutting edge" areas of science. It is
likely that aspects of our modern understanding of quantum physics
will seem to be "spirit-like" descriptions to those in the future.
Remember that some quantum phenomenon has been referred to as "spooky
action." We also have little basis to explain what happened before the
"Big Bang." Nonetheless, we do our best with the level of information
generated by our rational search for understanding and our mistakes.
We don’t know it all, but that doesn’t invalidate the learning process
or the knowledge gained. Life is a process, not god-like perfection.
Correct answers require experience and experience invariably involves
incorrect answers. That’s life."

(Excerpted from "An open letter to pessimistic rationalists,
freethinkers and humanists" by Carl Ledendecker)

You cannot learn about the evolutions in science without inevitably
touching the history of science so these links are also valuable. The
first one gives you different insight about science.

What is science?

The second one is a lecture on the developments in science. You need
to study it carefully in order to know what is being implied on each

Research Methods & Statistics
What is science?
Why it matters
How it developed - pre 20th Century ideas
How it works - 20th Century +

Please visit these links because these will add more information to
your arsenal of knowledge:

The Center for History and New Media
Echo Virtual Center - Cataloguing, Annotating, and Reviewing Sites on
the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Today in Science History - The people and the events of the day
A site dedicated to important "everyday" events in the history of

History of Science

Science - History

The Medieval Science Page

The Galileo Project

Other references:

History of Science

You can find tons of information by searching through the results of
the search strategy below, particularly the last link.

I wasn't able to find specific information as you requested so I will
just give you a sort of a summary on how science developed, based on
the perspective that science is a process of learning.

First of all, before there were any scholars or scientists, scientific
bodies or any educational institutions, the study of science began
with the ordinary human or hominid - that is, if you want to go way
back in time. There are two major factors that paved the way to the
development of science -- need and accidental discovery.

- the need to know and understand our physical, mental, and emotional
- the need to find an answer to a mystery or a problem

Accident or accidental discovery is most often the result of this
need. There are many significant events in the history of science that
came from accidental discovery. An example is the perfection of rubber
- how it became stable for commercial purposes. Here's an excerpt:

"The great discovery came in the winter of 1839. Goodyear was using
sulphur in his experiments now. Although Goodyear himself has left the
details in doubt, the most persistent story is that one February day
he wandered into Woburn's general store to show off his latest
gum-and-sulphur formula. Snickers rose from the cracker-barrel forum,
and the usually mild-mannered little inventor got excited, waved his
sticky fistful of gum in the air. It flew from his fingers and landed
on the sizzling-hot potbellied stove.

When he bent to scrape it off, he found that instead of melting like
molasses, it had charred like leather. And around the charred area was
a dry, springy brown rim -- "gum elastic" still, but so remarkably
altered that it was virtually a new substance. He had made
weatherproof rubber.

This discovery is often cited as one of history's most celebrated
"accidents." Goodyear stoutly denied that. Like Newton's falling
apple, he maintained, the hot stove incident held meaning only for the
man "whose mind was prepared to draw an inference." That meant, he
added simply, the one who had "applied himself most perseveringly to
the subject." " ***

(Excerpted from Charles Goodyear and the Strange Story of Rubber from
the Goodyear Corprate Website.)
***Original article was reprinted from the January 1958 issue of
Reader's Digest. ©1957 the Reader's Digest Association, Inc.,
Pleasantville, n.y. 10570 printed in U.S.A.

You can find tons of breakthroughs and accidental discoveries in
science through these links:

"breakthroughs in science"

"accidental discoveries in science"

We humans were able to learn from the world around us by:
1) Imagination or thinking about how a thing came to be or how it
works (theory or hypothesis).
2) Trying to duplicate a process or doing trial and error in order to
see if what we thought about really works (experimentation)
3) Looking at how our trials and errors progressed and how these ended
4) Trying to see what really happened based on the results of our
experimentation (inference)
5) Sorting out what actually happened or what actually works
6) ...and then finally singling out the best explanation of how a
thing came to be, how something happened, or how a thing works

The above procedures became known as the scientific method. What is
the Scientific method? Read these links:


Twin Groves Middle School Website

Early science was rough and muddy. It was often inter-mixed with
mysticism, religion and other unverifiable and false beliefs. The
science of Chemistry, for example, evolved from Alchemy. Alchemy, was
shrouded in mystery. It began because of man's desire to find the
Elixir of life and the transmutation of ordinary metals and/or other
materials into gold.

History of Alchemy

The History of Alchemy in America by Mark Stavish, M.A.

Alchemy obviously failed to find the elixir and formula for gold.
Nevertheless, some alchemists cheated by hiding gold somewhere in
their "laboratory", which they showed to people as proof of their
success. Unfortunately, people believed this. The results of the
experiments done by the alchemists were mostly never questioned nor

As our understanding and learning progressed, we became more and more
logical in our way of thinking and people, organizations, and
institutions dedicated to knowledge and learning emerged. To filter
out the true science from quackery, mysticism and other factors, we
began to establish groups or institutions to verify the results. At
first, it was the community, then the leaders, elders, and kings or
queens. Then the church entered the scene which gave a hard time to
real scientists like Galileo, Copernicus and other men of knowledge.
As time progressed and things developed, only the real scientific
institutions, and other men of science have the final say about the
results of an experiment. The need to separate the true science from
the absurd is the reason why scientists trade knowledge and work
together with one another, why science is done in organized
institutions, and papers are peer reviewed world wide.

Search strategy:

"evolutions in science"

"scientific evolution"

"how science developed"

"science history"
osxii-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: The evolution of science
From: techtor-ga on 09 May 2003 23:03 PDT
My colleague Feilong asked me to inform you that he is having serious
problems with his Internet connection at this moment, so he cannot
reply to your Request For Clarification at once. Once he is up and
running again, he will attend to you. We hope you can bear with us.
Thank you.
Subject: Re: The evolution of science
From: cephalic-ga on 13 May 2003 11:31 PDT
You may be interested in reading David Hull's, "Science as a process"

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