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PHYSICS Module 1

PHYSICS Module 1

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Published by: Dennis Cosmod on Jun 14, 2011
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Physics 201 and Physics 214Study Guide
Topics: Definition, History, People and Branches of Sciences and Physics, Fundamental Units (Base Units),Scientific Notation, Rounding Off Numbers, Significant Figures, Conversion of Units, Scalar and VectorQuantitiesA.
 
Definition, History, People and Branches of Science
D
efinition of Science
-
is a systematized body of knowledge based on facts and principles
-
is a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arrangedand showing the operation of the general laws
-
is systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation andexperimentation
D
ivisions of Science
: (1) Natural Science
-
division of science that deals with nature; Subdivisions (1.a)Biological Science
-
deals with living things e.g. Biology, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology; (1.b) Physical Science
-
deals with non
-
living things e.g. Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Metreology, Geology; (2) Social Science
-
division of science that deals with the society e.g. anthropology, archaeology, business administration,criminology, economics, education, geography, linguistics, political science, government, sociology, internationalrelations, history, law, psychology and communication; (3) Applied Science
-
the application of scientificknowledge transferred into a physical environment e.g. engineering, medicine and other health sciences; (4)Abstract science
-
e.g. mathematics and philosophy
History of Science
Scientific Revolution, the period roughly between 1500 and 1700 during which thefoundations of modern science were laid down in Western Europe. Before this period, nothing like science in themodern sense existed. Throughout the Middle Ages, formal attempts to understand the physical world weredeveloped, chiefly in the arts and medical faculties of the medieval universities. This natural philosophy, as it wasknown, derived almost entirely from the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher
 Aristotle
. Most of thebrilliant legacy of ancient Greek thought had been lost to Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire inthe 5th century. When this legacy began to be recovered from Byzantine and Islamic sources where it had tosome extent been preserved, it was the works of Aristotle that had the most immediate impact and began todominate Western philosophical thought. The learning in the two most powerful faculties of the medievaluniversity system, the faculties of divinity and of law, was based on ancient writings: the Bible and Roman Law,as codified by Byzantine emperor Justinian I in the
Corpus Juris Civilis
(534; Body of Civil Law). The arts andmedical faculties tended to follow suit, with the result that study focused not on the natural world itself, nor onthe techniques of practical healing, but instead on the writings of Aristotle and Galen, who was the equivalent medical authority in ancient times. Concentration on the study of texts meant that there was little or no practicalstudy or experimentation within the university curricula.This tendency to avoid practical subjects was reinforced by Aristotle's own teachings on how natural philosophyshould be conducted and on the correct way of determining the truth of things. He rejected the use of mathematics in natural philosophy, for example, because he insisted that natural philosophy should explainphenomena in terms of physical causes. Mathematics, being entirely abstract, could not contribute to this kind of physical explanation. Even those branches of the mathematical sciences that seemed to come close to explainingthe physical world, such as astronomy and optics, were disparaged as mixed sciences that tried to combine theprinciples of one science, geometry, with those of another, physics, in order to explain the behavior of heavenlybodies or rays of light. But the results, according to Aristotle, could not properly explain anything.Although geometry and arithmetic were taught in the university system they were always regarded as inferior tonatural philosophy and could not be used, therefore, to promote more practical approaches to the understandingof nature. Within the universities, even the study of plants and animals tended to be text 
-
based. Students learnedtheir knowledge of flora, for example, from the compilations of herbal and medicinal plants by the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides, leaving more localized and practical knowledge to lay experts in herbal lore
 
outside the university system. Similarly, alchemy and other empirical (based on experimentation andobservation) aspects of the natural magic tradition were pursued almost entirely outside the university system.This fragmentation of studies concerned with the workings of nature was reinforced throughout the Middle Agesby the Roman Catholic Church. After some initial problems with non
-
Christian aspects of Aristotelian teaching,the Church embraced such teaching as a handmaiden to the so
-
called queen of the sciences, theology. TheChurch considered Aristotelian natural philosophy to provide support to religious doctrines, but other naturalist pursuits were considered to be subversive. The Church tended to be suspicious of natural magic, for example,even though natural magic was simply concerned with the demonstrable properties of material bodies (such asthe ability of magnets to attract iron or the ability of certain plants or their extracts to cure diseases). One way oranother, therefore, the powerful combination of Aristotelian teachings with Church doctrines tended to excludedirect study and analysis of nature.The situation began to change during the Renaissance, a period of tremendous cultural achievement in Europethat began in the early 14th century and ended about 1600. The scientific revolution can be seen as a majoraspect of the sweeping and far
-
reaching changes of the Renaissance. In broad terms the scientific revolution hadfour major aspects: (1) the development of the experimental method, (2) the realization that nature obeysmathematical rules, (3) the use of scientific knowledge to achieve practical aims, and (4) the development of scientific institutions.
D
evelopment of the Experimental method
The Renaissance was the period when the experimental method, still characteristic of science today, began to bedeveloped and came increasingly to be used for understanding all aspects of the physical world. Previously, thenatural world had been thought to be comprehensible based on thoughtful consideration alone. Theexperimental method holds that understanding comes through hands
-
on trial and error under controlledconditions. The experimental method was not in itself newit had been a common aspect of the natural magictradition from ancient times. For example, all the experimental techniques used by the English physicist WilliamGilbert, author of what is generally acknowledged to be the earliest example of an experimental study of anatural phenomenon,
De
Magn
ete
(1600;
Of 
Magn
et 
s, Magn
et 
ic Bodi
e
s, and 
the
Gr 
e
a
Magn
et 
o
 f 
 
the
Ear 
th
, 1890),were first developed by Petrus Peregrinus, a renowned medieval magus (magician).Experimentation was a major aspect of the natural magic tradition and was ready for appropriation byRenaissance natural philosophers who recognized its potential. The experimental methodology used in magicbecame more acceptable to Renaissance scholars thanks to the rediscovery of ancient magical writings. Religiousopposition to magic had less force after the discovery of various writings allegedly written by HermesTrismegistus, Zoroaster, Orpheus, and other mythical or legendary characters. We now know these texts werewritten in the early centuries of the Christian Era and deliberately attributed to such legendary authors, but Renaissance scholars believed they were genuinely ancient documents. This gave the texts great authority andled to increased respect for magical approaches.Increased emphasis on experience and observation complemented the adoption of manipulative experimentaltechniques. Andreas Vesalius, innovative professor of surgery at the University of Padua, claimed to have noticedover 200 errors in Galen's anatomical writings when he performed his own dissections. Scholars had previouslyrelied on Galens works rather than performing their own dissections.Vesalius's emphasis upon a return to anatomical dissection led to major discoveries. William Harvey, who wastaught by one of Vesalius's successors at Padua, discovered that blood circulates through the body. Similarly, thediscovery of numerous new species of animals and plants in the New World led to a more empirical approach tonatural history. Previously, bestiaries (books containing collected descriptions of animals) and herbals (bookscontaining collected descriptions of plants) had included religious symbolism, legends, superstitions, and othernonnatural lore. Since there was no equivalent information about newly discovered species, however, herbalsand bestiaries compiled after the Renaissance were more likely to record properties based on actual observation.The advent of printing also played an important part in the transmission of accurate information. When thecirculation of texts depended upon handwritten copies, illustrations were often crudely executed by the various
 
scribes who copied the book. Subsequent copies of the copy could be unrecognizable. In the preparation of aprinted edition, however, a skilled illustrator could be called in to prepare a single illustration that would then bemass
-
produced. The standard of illustrations improved immeasurably. Almost inevitably the illustrationsbecame more realistic and stimulated a concern for proper observation of natural phenomena.Another important aspect of the new focus on experimentation and observation (empiricism) was the inventionof new observational instruments. The Italian astronomer Galileo, for example, used the telescopefirst developed for commercial purposesto make astonishing astronomical observations. His exciting successstimulated the development of a whole range of instruments for studying nature, such as the microscope,thermometer, and barometer.
M
athematization of Nature
The scientific revolution has also been characterized as the period of the mathematization of the world picture.Quantitative information and mathematical analysis of the physical world began to be seen to offer more reliableknowledge than the more qualitative and philosophical analyses that had been typical of traditional naturalphilosophy. The mathematical sciences had their own long history, but thanks to Aristotle's strictures they hadalways been kept separate from natural philosophy and regarded as inferior to it. Aristotle's authority weakenedthroughout the Renaissance, however, as the rediscovery of the writings of other ancient Greek philosopherswith views widely divergent from those of Aristotle, such as Plato, Epicurus, and the Stoics, made it plain that hewas by no means the only ancient authority.As skepticism became credible in light of the remarkable exposures of the failings of traditional intellectualpositions, mathematics became an increasingly powerful force. Mathematicians claimed to deal with absoluteknowledge, capable of undeniable proof and so immune from skeptical criticisms. The full story of the rise instatus of mathematics is complex and crowded. Notable contributors included Polish astronomer NicolausCopernicus, who claimed that, for no other reason than that the mathematics indicated it, Earth must revolvearound the Sun, and German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who reinforced this idea with astronomicalmeasurements vastly more precise than any that had previously been made. Copernicuss moving Earthdemanded a new theory of how moving bodies behave. This theory of motion was effectively initiated as a newmathematical science by Galileo and reached its pinnacle a few decades later in the work of Isaac Newton.
Practical Uses of Scientific Knowledge
Experimentalism and mathematization were both stimulated by an increasing concern that knowledge of natureshould be practically useful, bringing distinct benefits to its practitioners, its patrons, or even to people ingeneral. Apart from supporting dubious medical ideas, the only use to which natural philosophy had been put throughout the Middle Ages was for bolstering religion. During the scientific revolution the practical usefulnessof knowledge, an assumption previously confined to the magical and the mathematical traditions, was extendedto natural philosophy. To a large extent this new emphasis was a result of the demands of new patrons, chieflywealthy princes, who sought some practical benefit from their financial support for the study of nature. Therequirement that knowledge be practically useful was also in keeping, however, with the claims of theRenaissance humanists that the
vi
a ac
iva
(active life) wascontrary to the teachings of the Churchmorallysuperior to the
vi
a con
tem
 pla
iva
(contemplative life) of the monk because of the benefits an active life couldbring to others. The major spokesman for this new focus in natural philosophy was Francis Bacon, one
-
time LordChancellor of England. Bacon promoted his highly influential vision of a reformed empirical knowledge of naturethat he believed would result in immense benefits to mankind.
D
evelopment of Scientific Institutions
Finally, the scientific revolution was also a period during which new organizations and institutions wereestablished for the study of the natural world. While the universities still tended to maintain the traditionalnatural philosophy, the new empirical, mathematical, and practical approaches were encouraged in the royalcourts of Europe and in meetings of like
-
minded individuals, such as the informal gatherings of experimentalphilosophers in Oxford and London that occurred during the 1650s. The Royal Society of London was establishedon a formal basis in 1660 by attendees of those earlier gatherings. Although nominally under the patronage of Charles II, the Royal Society received no financial support from the monarchy. A similar French society, the

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