Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/243

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By Professor A. E. DOLBEAR,


LET us define science as knowledge of the relations of phenomena, and define phenomena as any or all changes that take place, which may be known to mankind. Let us also assume uniformity of action, that is that under assigned conditions the same phenomenon will be reproduced, what is called and what is meant by the term law.

We have several bodies of correlated relations which constitute such sciences as astronomy, chemistry, biology and so on. The phenomena exhibited by large bodies at great distances apart we call astronomy. Such as are exhibited by minute bodies near together we call chemistry, and the phenomena among living as distinguished from what we call dead things, we call biology. Among these and other similar sciences, where we have noted the uniformities in the phenomena and find ourselves able to predict occurrences, we say we have definite knowledge, and especially so when the bodies that exhibit the changes are of such magnitude that we may control them. This is what is meant by experimentation. Until phenomena are studied in their relations to other known and established relations they can not be said to be a corporate part of science. There are many isolated facts not yet in established relations, awaiting their proper setting. Facts are always scientific data, they are not science itself. That a body left unsupported will fall to the ground has been known for thousands of years, also that the moon revolves about the earth. The correlation that shows that both belong to the same class and are due to the same agency, gravitation, is science. The man who proved the relation was a scientific man, was doing scientific work. In like manner everybody has known in all times, of mankind and animals on the earth. The correlations that show their relationship is science, and the one who showed it was a scientific man. The two examples are to show that scientific work consists in establishing the relations among: phenomena. This is what marks the profound difference between the work of the nineteenth century and all the preceding ones—the establishment of the relations among phenomena.

Prior to the nineteenth century there was a vicious assumption underlying nearly all effort in the domain of knowledge, that was, that there were no necessary relations among the different classes of phe-