**Author:**** Professor Dr. Syed Arif
Kamal **Previous
Article Next Article Printable Version
PDF

As
we learnt from the article "What is
Science?" all scientific studies begin with *doubts *and *conflicts*
between a theory and the available observations. The model based on the
fundamental physical laws may be checked against the recorded observations.
Smaller deviations mean a better model. Connection between a* theoretical
model *and the *real world* comes from the observations. However, it
is not, always, straightforward. Observer is a kind of model world, itself. It
generates controversies regarding the interpretation. The usual requirement for
a theoretical model is a prediction in terms of numbers. The numbers usually
are not certain because of the approximations made during the computation. A
theorist tries to understand nature by formulating a *model* on the
basis of available knowledge.

Scientific
models are mental pictures that account for observations in the outside world
and predict new phenomena. In astronomy, for example, elements of a model
interact to give it form. *Geometry *brings out a visual framework
(shapes of the objects involved). *Physics* deals with the motion and
the interaction of various parts. And *aesthetics* directs us to select
the simplest and the most pleasing models from the many candidates.

A
model, when accepted universally, becomes a *theory*. In everyday
language, a theory is nothing more than a speculative guess. In science a
theory is a *group* *of related hypotheses that have been tested and
supported by a great deal of evidence.*

A new model presented to the scientific community
shall be seriously considered if:

*a.*
It is **internally consistent*** *(*i.
e.*, mathematically sound).

*b.*
It * explains* current
observations.

For
example, Dirac's theory of the electron was mathematically rigorous, it
explained the observed electron spin and it predicted positive electron later
discovered and named as positron. String theories are internally consistent and
they explain a number of phenomena. However, they do not propose a test, which
can be performed in the laboratory or observed in our environment. Therefore,
some people have doubts about them.

Can
one prove anything in science? No! One can only disprove a statement. A
scientific statement is that statement for which an experiment can be devised
to disprove it. A theory cannot be called absolutely correct or proving the
observed results. All one may say is that a theory is usable under the given
set of conditions. If the conditions change or new phenomena are observed the
theory needs to be modified. Even the most established laws, *e. g.*,
" Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation" had to be modified when new
logics and new observations were at our disposal.

If
one generalizes from specific observations, one is said to be applying *inductive
logic.* For example, the following line of argument is based on inductive
logic. Water and oil are liquids. They flow and so all the liquids flow. If one
obtains a particular result from a general law, one is said to be applying *deductive
logic.* A line of argument that goes as the following is based on deductive
logic. All liquids flow and water is a liquid. Therefore, it must flow. Pure
sciences are *inductive *in nature. Applied sciences are *deductive*
in nature. In applied sciences one develops a technology based on the general
laws using the deductive logic. Mathematics is *deductive *in nature.
Judicial rules of Islam are *deductive *in nature.

Science
is the formulation of general laws applying mainly inductive logic. *Engineering*
is modeling from the general laws to create practical systems. *Technology*
is the implementation and the adaptation of a laboratory model to create a
working system, which could be mass-produced. The tools to analyze, construct
and optimize systems are called *Operational Research.* Operational
Research makes use of mathematics, statistics, computer science and control
theory along with a basic knowledge of the system to be dealt with.

One
must be clear between the terms *models* and *modeling.* The
former means study and critical analysis of the models developed by others
whereas the latter means developing models of the systems found in our
immediate surroundings. The essence of *Applied Mathematics* is modeling
of the indigenous problems.

If
one wants to be a scientist one must learn to **reason***, *to **see**** **when one

**Appeared**** ****in the NEWS International, Karachi, Technotalk Page, December 8,
1997**

**Last
Updated:** August 1, 2018 (0000h UTC) Previous
Article Next Article Printable Version
PDF

½ Debates
½ Proposal
Writing ½ Problem Solving PDF ½ Early Talent
Research Participation Program ½ Life History
½ |

Best viewed with 800 x 600 screen resolution using Microsoft Internet Explorer. Copyright 1998-2018. Professor Dr. Syed Arif Kamal