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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 Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in around 3500 to 3000 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to explain events of the physical world based on natural causes. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek conceptions of the world deteriorated in Western Europe during the early centuries (400 to 1000 CE) of the Middle Ages but was preserved in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek works and Islamic inquiries into Western Europe from the 10th to 13th century revived natural philosophy, which was later transformed by the Scientific Revolution that began in the 16th century as new ideas and discoveries departed from previous Greek conceptions and traditions. The scientific method soon played a greater role in knowledge creation and it was not until the 19th century that many of the institutional and professional features of science began to take shape.

Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, and physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g., economics, psychology, and sociology), which study individuals and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g., logic, mathematics, and 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 utilize existing scientific knowledge for practical purposes, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

Science is based on research, which is commonly conducted in academic and research institutions as well as in 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.

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Carbon nanotube
Nanotechnology comprises technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 1 to 100 nm (1/1,000 µm, or 1/1,000,000 mm). A possible way to interpret this size is to take the width of a human hair, and imagine something ten thousand times smaller. The term has sometimes been applied to microscopic technology.

Nanotechnology is any technology which exploits phenomena and structures that can only occur at the nanometer scale, which is the scale of several atoms and small molecules. The United States's National Nanotechnology Initiative website defines nanotechnology as "the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications."

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Energy arc, central electrode of a plasma lamp
Credit: Blaise Frazier

A plasma globe is usually a clear glass orb, filled with a mixture of various inert gases at low pressure, and driven by high frequency alternating current at high voltage (approx. 35 kHz, 2–5 kV,15.7 Krem), generated by a high voltage transformer. A much smaller orb in its centre serves as an electrode. Beams or snakes of "light" (actually emergent patterns in ionized gas) extend from the inner electrode to the outer glass container, giving an appearance similar to multiple constant beams of coloured lightning. The beams first follow the electric field lines of the dipole, but move up due to convection.

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Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler (April 15, 1707 Basel, Switzerland – September 18, 1783 St Petersburg, Russia) was a Swiss mathematician and physicist. He is considered to be the dominant mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time; he is certainly among the most prolific, with collected works filling over 70 volumes. Euler developed many important concepts and proved numerous lasting theorems in diverse areas of mathematics, including calculus, number theory, and topology. In the course of this work, he introduced much of modern mathematical terminology, defining the concept of a function, and its notation, such as sin, cos, and tan for the trigonometric functions.

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by Jon Lomberg

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