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MEET THE STUDENT ASKING THE QUESTION

student
Asked by: Justin Dueber
School:Owego Apalachin Middle School
Grade:6
Teacher:Scott Snyder
Hobbies/Interests:

Baseball, basketball, all sports and video games


Career Interest:Professional baseball player or accountant



MEET THE SCIENTIST

faculty
Answered by: Alexsa Silva
Title:Coordinator of Instructional Laboratories, Binghamton University
Department:Chemistry
About Scientist:

Ph.D. School: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Post Doctoral Studies: Binghamton University
Research area: Education, photochemistry, organometallics.
Interests/hobbies: Music and travel
 


ASK A SCIENTIST

Date: 11-06-2008

Question: Where did the word science come from?

Answer:

The word "science" has several accepted roots. The spelling "science" comes directly from the Old French language; we call "Old French" the French language written and spoken around the years 900-1400. This Old French was a combination of Vulgar Latin with Celtic and Germanic influences. We can go even further on the root of the word and get to "Scientia", from the Classical Latin that means "knowledge", and which itself comes from "sciens" that means to discern, to separate one thing from another.

In the earlier centuries the word "science" in English referred only to the knowledge of how something works, described by specific laws. It did not mean what it means today. At that time, people that investigated natural phenomena were called "natural philosophers". William Whenwell made one of the first references of the word "scientist" in 1833. By the end of the nineteenth century, the regulatory way of how the discoveries were made was called the "scientific method". By the twentieth century, the meaning of the word "science" was broader, more like what we know today: "a body of regular or methodical observations or propositions concerning a particular branch of knowledge" for example: chemistry, sociology, anthropology and linguistic.

Science as we know it today is a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge acquired by observation, experimentation and explanation of real natural phenomena. In other words, just like the origin of the word "science", in order to be a good scientist, one has to seek the knowledge of the subject and be able to discern through the results of one's experiments what is the regularity of the phenomena observed. The scientist then proposes a hypothesis, tests it and develops a theory.


Ask a Scientist appears Thursdays. Questions are answered by faculty at Binghamton University.  Teachers in the greater Binghamton area who wish to participate in the program are asked to write to Ask A Scientist, c/o Binghamton University, Office of Communications and Marketing, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000 or e-mail scientist@binghamton.edu. Check out the Ask a Scientist Web site at askascientist.binghamton.edu. To submit a question, download the submission form(.pdf, 460kb).

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Last Updated: 6/22/10