Origin of scientific theory
Words nearby scientific theory
MORE ABOUT SCIENTIFIC THEORY
What is a scientific theory?
A scientific theory is a well-tested, broad explanation of a natural phenomenon.
In everyday life, we often use the word theory to mean a hypothesis or educated guess, but a theory in the context of science is not simply a guess—it is an explanation based on extensive and repeated experimentation. And it’s not the job of theories to become facts—they use available facts to make sense of a broad concept.
Scientific theories explain some of the most familiar and complex phenomena. A few of the best-known scientific theories are the theory of gravity, the theory of evolution, and the theory of relativity.
Scientific theory vs. law
If you ever stop to wonder why some fundamental process happens the way it does, it will most likely be a scientific theory that has the answer you seek. For example, if you have big questions about the movement of the planets in our solar system, the theory of heliocentrism has big answers (spoiler alert: they orbit around the sun). That’s because a theory is not just a single answer but a consistent system of many, many answers backed by supporting evidence.
In other words, a scientific theory is an in-depth, wide-sweeping explanation of a natural occurrence that can’t be proven wrong given our current scientific knowledge. So what’s the difference between a scientific theory, a scientific hypothesis, and a scientific law? A hypothesis, unlike a thoroughly tested scientific theory, is an educated guess that has not yet been fully tested or subjected to research. Hypotheses also tend to be very specific, whereas scientific theories are sweeping explanations that cover a wide range of questions about a phenomenon. The theory of evolution, for example, explains the incremental changes of all life forms on Earth over billions of years. A scientific law describes a scientific observation but doesn’t attempt to say why or how it happens, whereas a scientific theory explains exactly why or how it happens. For example, the law of gravity says that two objects will exert their gravitational pull on each other. It doesn’t say why the objects do this, however. The theory of gravity is the (much more complex) explanation as to exactly why and how these objects attract each other, encompassing all verified observations about such phenomena.
Scientific theories shape our understanding of topics in many different fields, from medicine to biology to astrophysics. A crucial aspect of scientific theories is that they can predict phenomena not yet directly observed—things that current technology can’t detect but that the theory nevertheless asserts to exist. One example of this is germ theory, developed by scientists in the 1800s. Although they lacked our current medical technology, their experiments correctly predicted the existence of viruses and bacteria. That’s more than just a good guess!
Did you know … ?
The scientific method, which is central to developing scientific theories, was formalized by 17th-century philosopher Francis Bacon, who was inspired by the many scientists who came before him and developed their own scientific theories (even if they didn’t call them that).
What are real-life examples of scientific theory?
This video breaks down the difference between a theory and a law, with some real-life examples:
"Physician-scientists bridge the gap between scientific theory and practical medicine. We need to boost their ranks." https://t.co/AAn0j3pBua
— WIRED (@WIRED) January 4, 2019
GZA Raps Lecture About The Big Bang Theory– not the TV show, the scientific theory http://t.co/hOaldKrWwZ
— allhiphopcom (@allhiphopcom) November 22, 2013
What other words are related to scientific theory?
A scientific theory is:
A. a random guess that only a handful of scientists think is true.
B. an undeniable fact of the universe that will be true forever.
C. a well-tested prediction that is accepted in some countries but rejected in others.
D. a comprehensive explanation that uses facts repeatedly proven in many experiments and is accepted by the vast majority of scientists.
How to use scientific theory in a sentence
In April, for instance, a physicist tried to use scientific theories to explain warp speed time travel.Prepare for time travel with this flux capacitor|Quinn Gawronski|July 13, 2021|Popular-Science
He does not offer biophilia as a coherent scientific theory.Timeless meditations on Earth’s fragility, and the damage humans do|Balaji Ravichandran|May 14, 2021|Washington Post
The electron and muon both have properties precisely predicted by our current best scientific theory describing the subatomic quantum world, the standard model of particle physics.Scientists Found Hints of New Particles or Forces of Nature, and It Could Change Physics|Themis Bowcock|April 9, 2021|Singularity Hub
“It was a really nice and practical article that draws on current scientific theories around the phenomena that so many are experiencing right now with the relentless pandemic,” she said.Four reasons you’re tired of Zoom calls — and what to do about it|Paulina Firozi, Allyson Chiu|March 3, 2021|Washington Post
Such questions seem profoundly irrelevant, given that evolution has been an established scientific theory for many decades.My Debate With an ‘Intelligent Design’ Theorist|Karl W. Giberson|April 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Here's how it works, how I measured it, and some scientific theory to back up the findings.What Happened When I Replaced Coffee With 30 Seconds of Exercise|Gregory Ferenstein|December 2, 2013|DAILY BEAST
This idea entered almost imperceptibly into the minds of vocal teachers in the guise of a scientific theory of Voice Culture.The Psychology of Singing|David C. Taylor
Such systems must accept human nature as a fact, and as the basis of a scientific theory.The English Utilitarians, Volume I.|Leslie Stephen
First, let us define or describe heat according to the scientific theory.Farm Engines and How to Run Them|James H. Stephenson
Of course, in very advanced scientific theory we are driven again to myth-making.Literature in the Elementary School|Porter Lander MacClintock
It is, in fact, the scientific theory of the conservation of energy.The Metaphysic of Christianity and Buddhism|Dawsonne M. Strong