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The Science Portal

Science is the methodical study of nature including testable explanations and predictions. From classical antiquity through the 19th century, science as a type of knowledge was more closely linked to philosophy than it is now and, in fact, in the Western world, the term "natural philosophy" encompassed fields of study that are today associated with science, such as astronomy, medicine, and physics. However, during the Islamic Golden Age foundations for the scientific method were laid by Ibn al-Haytham in his Book of Optics. While the classification of the material world by the ancient Indians and Greeks into air, earth, fire and water was more philosophical, medieval Middle Easterns used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

Today, the ever-evolving term "science" refers to the pursuit of knowledge, not the knowledge itself. It is often synonymous with "natural and physical science" and often restricted to those branches of study relating to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws. Although the term implies exclusion of pure mathematics, many university faculties include Mathematics Departments within their Faculty of Science. The dominant sense in ordinary use has a narrower use for the term "science." It developed as a part of science becoming a distinct enterprise of defining the "laws of nature"; early examples include Kepler's laws, Galileo's laws, and Newton's laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as "natural science." Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. For example, psychology evolved from philosophy, and has grown into an area of study.

Currently, there are both "hard" (e.g. biological psychology) and "soft" science (e.g. social psychology) fields within the discipline. As a result, and as is consistent with the unfolding of the study of knowledge and development of methods to establish facts, each area of psychology employs a scientific method. Reflecting the evolution of the development of knowledge and established facts and the use of the scientific method, Psychology Departments in universities are found within: Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Arts, and a Faculty of Science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.

More about Science...

Selected article

Severe soil erosion in a wheat field near Washington State University.
Erosion is the displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock and other particles) by the agents of wind, water or ice, by downward or down-slope movement in response to gravity or by living organisms (in the case of bioerosion). Erosion is distinguished from weathering, which is the breaking down of rock and particles through processes where no movement is involved, although the two processes may be concurrent.

Erosion is a natural process, but in many places it is increased by human land use. Poor land use practices include deforestation, overgrazing, unmanaged construction activity and road or trail building. However, improved land use practices can limit erosion, using techniques like terrace-building and tree planting.

A certain amount of erosion is natural and, in fact, healthy for the ecosystem. For example, gravels continually move downstream in watercourses. Excessive erosion, however, can cause problems, such as receiving water sedimentation, ecosystem damage (including fish kills) and outright loss of soil.

Selected picture

Rust and dirt on a baking plate.
Credit: Roger McLassus

Rust is the chemical substance formed when iron compounds corrode in the presence of oxygen and water. It is a mixture of iron oxides and hydroxides. Rusting is a common term for corrosion, and usually corrosion of steel. Iron is found naturally in the ore haematite as iron oxide, and metallic iron tends to return to a similar state when exposed to air, (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc.) and water. This corrosion is due to the oxidation reaction when iron metal returns to an energetically favourable state. Energy is given off when rust forms. The process of rusting can be summarized as three basic stages: The formation of iron(II) ions from the metal; the formation of hydroxide ions; and their reaction together, with the addition of oxygen, to create rust.

Selected biography

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (About this sound pronunciation ), April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath, having been a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Born as the illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant girl, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, spending his final years in France at the home given to him by King François I.

Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention.[1] He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2]

It is primarily as a painter that Leonardo was and is renowned. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupy unique positions as the most famous, most reproduced and most parodied portrait and religious painting of all time, their fame approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.[1] Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number due to his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination.[b] Nevertheless, these few works together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, comprise a contribution to later generations of artists only rivalled by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Did you know...


  • ...that coloration is a property of loudspeakers that causes the speaker to continue to emit sound when an electrical signal stops?
  • ...that the two human atria do not have valves at their inlets?
  1. ^ a b Gardner, Helen (1970), Art through the Ages, Harcourt, Brace and World 
  2. ^ Vasari, Boltraffio, Castiglione, "Anonimo" Gaddiano, Berensen, Taine, Fuseli, Rio, Bortolon, etc. See specific quotations under heading "Leonardo, the legend".