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What is the process used by scientists to find answers to questions or to solve problems?

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September 09, 2009 9:59PM

Scientists use the "Scientific method". This involves:

* First examine the problem of question to determine if they understand the intent * They then postulate potential answers * They then conduct physical or mathematical interrogations of the problem or question and observe the results * The results lead to modification to the potential answers and subsequent tests * The above step is iterated until the answer is determined Lets examine a hypothetical situation:

Assume you are given a government grant to determine "Does it hurt to touch hot iron?"

* Identify what you want to investigate (e.g. Does it hurt to touch a hot iron) * Consider what should be in the experiment (e.g. Irons, steam irons, travel irons, hands) * Set criteria (what is hot, what are people, what is touch, how long does a touch last)

* Consider how to eliminate variables (e.g. Broken irons, irons turned off, people with cooking gloves, people with artificial arms, people with peripheral neuropathy etc.) * Determine how many trials and how many subjects and how much equipment (irons, thermometers, watches, band aids) is required * Determine if there is a need for blanks (iron is cold or off, people touch other objects, etc. to eliminate people just playing along)

* Get test subjects and test equipment together and do experiment

* Repeat experimental procedure gathering data and recording results * Graph or process data (e.g. iron temperature vs. ouches by contact time) * Draw conclusions and write report (The data may show that hot irons do or don't hurt, but you don't know until the experiment is done). * Ask for someone else to review your procedures, experiment, results and conclusions (peer review) to determine if you've missed something * Publish report.