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Question

# In your own words, provide a brief definition for each of the following: observation, law, hypothesis, and theory.

Solution

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a) $\textbf{Observation}$: Observation is simply witnessing any change/process that takes place in the physical/chemical world. Observations are often the first step involved in scientific knowledge discovery. Some observations can be simple, require nothing more than naked eyes and some can complex that demands sophisticated instruments.

$\textbf{\textit{Example}}$: Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin when he observed a bacteria-free circle around a certain mold that had accidentally grown on a culture plate.

b) $\textbf{Hypothesis}$ : Hypothesis is what often follows observation. Once an observation is made, a hypothesis is a tentative interpretation or explanation for the observation that was made. Based on the hypothesis, experimentations are carried out to prove/disprove the hypothesis made.

c) $\textbf{Law}$: A scientific law is a rule that is derived from a repeated number of similar observations. A law is often a brief statement that summarizes the past observations and predicts the future ones. They are similar to rules that hold true under certain scenarios.

$\textbf{\textit{Example}}$: "Based on his observations on combustion, Lavoisier developed $\textbf{Law of Conservation of Mass}$"

d) $\textbf{Theory}$: A scientific theory is a more deeper and broader explanation of observations when compared to a scientific law. These are deduced from well established and experimented hypotheses. These often predict the nature or behavior that extends well beyond the observations and laws on which they are founded.

$\textbf{\textit{Example}}$: Atomic theory of John Dalton, in which he proposed all matters are composed of small, indestructible particles called atoms, which went beyond the laws and observations of that time

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