Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
The earliest roots of science can be traced to the works of Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians, whose contributions entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek science deteriorated in Western Europe during the Middle Ages but flourished in the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek and Islamic science into Western Europe during the 10th to 13th century preceded the revival of natural philosophy in the West, which continued to develop as the precursor of natural science from the Renaissance through the 19th century. Since the 17th century, scientific knowledge gradually became associated with the scientific method and was increasingly being formulated in terms of physical laws. Particularly in the 19th century, multiple distinguishing characteristics of contemporary science began to emerge.
Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economics), which study individuals and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g. mathematics, logic, theoretical computer science), which study abstract concepts. There is disagreement, however, on whether the formal sciences actually constitute a science as they do not rely on empirical evidence. Disciplines that use science, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.
Science is related to research and is commonly organized by academic and research institutions as well as government agencies and companies. The practical impact of scientific research has led to the emergence of science policies that seek to influence the scientific enterprise by prioritizing the development of commercial products, armaments, health care, and environmental protection.
is a NASA unmanned spacecraft
designed to fly by Pluto
and its moons
) and transmit images and data back to Earth. Mission planners hope that NASA will approve plans to continue the mission with a fly-by of a Kuiper Belt Object
and return further data. A consortium of organizations, led by Southwest Research Institute
and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
, has built the craft. The mission's principal investigator is S. Alan Stern of Southwest Research. The probe successfully launched from Cape Canaveral
at 14:00 EST January 19, 2006 and flew past Jupiter on February 28, 2007 for a gravity assist
The primary scientific objectives are to characterize the global geology and morphology and map the surface composition of Pluto and Charon, and study the neutral atmosphere of Pluto and its escape rate. Other objectives include studying time variability of Pluto's surface and atmosphere; imaging and mapping areas of Pluto and Charon at high-resolution; characterizing Pluto's upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and energetic particle environment; searching for an atmosphere around Charon; refining bulk parameters of Pluto and Charon; and searching for additional satellites and rings.
Isaac Newton, English physicist
. A man of profound genius
, he is widely regarded as the most influential scientist in history. He is associated with the scientific revolution
and the advancement of heliocentrism
. Among his scientific accomplishments, Newton wrote the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
, wherein he described universal gravitation
and, via his laws of motion
, laid the groundwork for classical mechanics
. With Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
he is credited for the development of differential calculus
. Newton was the first to promulgate a set of natural laws that could govern both terrestrial
motion and celestial motion
, and is credited with providing mathematical substantiation for Kepler's laws of planetary motion
, which he expanded by arguing that orbits
(such as those of comets
) could include all conic sections (such as the ellipse
, and parabola
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