Concepts in science

By Juan R. González Álvarez

Analysis of science

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Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez
Analysis is the process of dividing a whole down into components. In analysis of science we take science as the whole.

The term “analysis” derives from the Greek “analusis” which means “a dissolving”. The process of dividing science can be formalized as
Science ⟶ Component₁ + Component₂ + ···
Traditionally, science has been broken down, according to historical criteria, into disciplines such as astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, sociology… Some recent disciplines are cheminformatics and nanoscience [1]. However, the historical criteria are ambiguous and, consequently, traditional disciplines such as physics, biology, chemistry… overlap due to the absence of sharp boundaries.
There are at least two reasons for this overlap: (i) the birth of a scientific discipline is not a process that occurs at a particular moment in time, but rather it is a continuous process that can span many years or even decades; (ii) the resulting disciplines are not isolated units, and often parts of earlier disciplines are combined into a new field that grows in importance. A typical example is the combination of chemistry with biology. The ambiguity about the scope of the new discipline is evident because the American Chemical Society states that biochemists study the structure, composition, and chemical reactions of substances in living systems [2] while, for Alford and Hill, biochemists only study “the chemical reactions that take place within living cells” [3] and, for the Biochemical Society, it is the branch of science that explores the chemical processes that take place inside all living things [4].
A systematic division of science that avoids such problems is the following division into contiguous components
Science ⟶ Analytical-science + Descriptive-science + Synthetic-science + Fundamental-science + Engineering-science.
As we saw in the previous newsletter, science studies parts of the universe and their transformations. Fundamental science develops fundamental concepts and discovers the fundamental laws that describe the observable universe. Analytical science deals with breaking down a system down into components. Synthetic science is related to the combination of two or more components to form a new system. Engineering science increases the scale of production of new systems outside of laboratories [5]. Descriptive science deals with the study of the properties and structure of systems.
Axiomatic division of science into analytical, descriptive, fundamental, synthetic, and engineering components
Axiomatic division of science into analytical, descriptive, fundamental, synthetic, and engineering components
I will offer a more detailed characterization of each discipline in future issues.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
  1. Incorrectly called “nanotechnology”.
  2. Biological/Biochemistry 2022 October 12 (access): https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/careers/chemical-sciences/areas/biochemistry.html. Author not available.
  3. Excel HSC biology 2003: Pascal Press. Alford, Diane; Hill, Jennifer.
  4. Becoming a Bioscientist – Biochemical Society 2022 October 12 (access): https://www.biochemistry.org/education/careers/becoming-a-bioscientist/. Author not available.
  5. Many people believe that scientists investigate what already exists, while engineers create what never existed. It seems that Theodore von Kármán never studied chemistry or its history, because as the chemist Marcellin Berthelot wrote in 1876, “chemistry creates its own object”. Chemists have been creating new molecules and substances since the beginning of the discipline.
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Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez @juanrga

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