The aim of this essay is to expound on what experiments in science and technology are and look deep into the general steps followed in carrying them out. It seeks to give a description of each step and explain its significance in the whole process, but first the term experiment is defined.
A set of actions conducted in a specific order and under controlled conditions with an aim of justifying a certain phenomenon scientifically is referred to as an experiment. As a result, using the results obtained from the experiment, it is possible that one can draw a valid conclusion since the results produced from the test can be vindicated. All experiments are done to produce a scientific prove and poses similar characteristics. These characteristics are put into place so that by the end of the experiment, they can be proved to be correct or not.
All scientific procedures considered as experiments have two things in common: hypothesis and observation(s). Initially at the before the experiment is carried out, the scientist(s) involved have a proposition in mind that has not yet been proved. Based on the observations from the experiment, the hypothesis stated earlier on is proved right or wrong. Observation in an experiment is a key factor because through observing conclusions from an experiment are drawn as well as interpretation of the results. Observations have to be made in order for procedure to be called an experiment. Tycho Brahe had to make observations for his experiment and the very first were in 1563 (Hannaway, 1968, p588). Generally, the main aim of carrying out an experiment is the testing theories that are yet to be proved scientifically. Oftentimes, the researchers are able to estimate errors that were made while designing the hypothesis while testing the theories perceived as true. Moreover the assumptions that were made while stating the theories are also identified in the process.
In the scientific realm of studies, visual observation is regarding highly (Shapin, 1988, p485-95) and the ability to replicate the experiment in future. It is quite difficult to theoretically explain to another scientist as to why there is the occurrence of a phenomenon in life and what makes it take place. In order to tackle such a problem, one predicts why the phenomenon happens so that they can test it under certain conditions and this creates room for learning more of the occurrence. The study is done under various conditions while recording observations and the most optimal conditions are noted. This increases the scientists understanding of the prerequisites of that lead to occurrence of the phenomenon and thereby come up with justified reasons explaining its occurrence. Therefore with the aid of the observations, the findings can be explained to others or even published in scientific journals.
Documentation of results is always done after the experiment. What if the theory they were trying to prove does not correspond to their results? The researchers rewrite it in such a way it gives a clear explanation of a phenomenon. Sometimes some of the experiments done vary with either of the theories suggested. In such cases, the results are not considered. Results from all experiments are checked more than once before they are analyzed, and once they are regarded correct, they are presented in form of graphs and tables; only then can meaningful conclusions be drawn from the experiment. This is done after the results of the experiment are interpreted together with all the patterns available. Later on, after numerous experiments and collection of data, the scientists are able to establish the laws supporting the findings of the experiment since all scientific experiments are meant to explain why things function in a certain manner and how they perform the function.
Since the 20th century a hypothesis-deductive approach is preferred by many a scientists whereby the scientist develops a hypothesis on how a phenomenon behaves that way and from that, he puts it into a test and gets the results. Its through the results that the person justifies the hypothesis is true or false. The proposed approach for scientific experiment follows a sequence of steps. First and foremost, an observation has to be made (Hannaway, 1968, p588-93). and it is important that one is objective as opposed to being subjective since a set of procedures is only considered an experiment if and only if it can be replicated by others for verification. After observing events that have previously occurred, one has to draw hypotheses whereby one predicts the results to be expected from the experiment. After preparing a hypothesis, predict whether your hypothesis will be true or false after the experiment.
The second step would be conducting the experiment after the prediction to get the results that will either comply with ones hypotheses or go against it. An analysis of the results is done and finally, interpretation of the results. This facilitates the generation of a conclusion to support ones findings in the experiment. Producing a report of the study is a major key in scientific studies as the findings of the study may be needed by another scientist to further their studies.
However, before conducting an experiment, one needs to have a budgetary allocation for the experiment. All experiments need resources and these resources need to be financed adequately if at all the experiment is to be completed. (Shapin, 1988, pp490-93) Experiments regarding live specimen are unethical in many cases because they tend to interfere with the normal functionality of the specimen. A control of all the variables used in the experiment can be an issue as one may end up with distorted results. Due to the fact that not all experiments are conducted by a single person regarding data collection, analysis and interpretation, errors are expected as not all of them have knowledge of that field.
In conclusion, scientists have completely adopted this method of the experiment as a way of testing other people theories and also coming up with their own. It is the only method that gives evidence of a phenomenon or occurrence. The proposed approach has given a format of how the experiment should be conducted to give correct findings if at all the unresolved issue are resolved.
Shapin, Steven, The House of Experiment in Seventeenth Century England in Mario Biagioli, ed., The Sciance Studies Reader (1988); pp. 485-495
Hannaway, Owen. Laboratory Design and the Aim of Science: Andreas Libavius versus Tycho Brahe. Isis, 77 (1986); 588-593.
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