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Science portal

Colbert Presenting the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences to Louis XIV in 1667.PNG

Members of the Academy in 1667 with Louis XIV

Science (from Latin scientia '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 3000 to 1200 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to provide explanations of events in 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; along with the changing of "natural philosophy" to "natural science."

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 deal with symbols governed by rules. There is disagreement, however, on whether the formal sciences actually constitute a science as they do not rely on empirical evidence. Disciplines that use existing scientific knowledge for practical purposes, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

New knowledge in science is advanced by research from scientists who are motivated by curiosity about the world and a desire to solve problems. Contemporary scientific research is highly collaborative and is usually done by teams in academic and research institutions, government agencies, and companies. The practical impact of their work 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, public infrastructure, and environmental protection. (Full article...)

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An 18th Century Persian astrolabe used for determining the time at both day and night. The points of the curved spikes on the front rete plate mark the positions of the brightest stars, the name of each star being labeled at the base of each spike. The back plate, or mater, is engraved with projected coordinate lines. From the Whipple Museum of the History of Science collection.

Selected biography

Frank Macfarlane Burnet at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, 1945
Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet (3 September 1899 – 31 August 1985) was an Australian virologist best known for his contributions to immunology. He went on to conduct pioneering research on bacteriophages and viruses at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and served as director of the Institute from 1944 to 1956. His virology research resulted in significant discoveries concerning their nature and replication and their interaction with the immune system.

From the mid-1950s, he worked extensively in immunology and was a major contributor to the theory of clonal selection, which explains how lymphocytes target antigens for destruction. Burnet and Peter Medawar were co-recipients of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating acquired immune tolerance. This research provided the experimental basis for inducing immune tolerance, the platform for developing methods of transplanting solid organs.

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Golden Lion Tamarin

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Science News

14 July 2021 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Scientists at the European Southern Observatory announce the discovery of isotopes of carbon-13 on TYC 8998-760-1 b, an exoplanet located 300 light-years away from the Musca constellation. The discovery was made via the Very Large Telescope in Chile. (Phys.org)
12 July 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
A study conducted by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology shows that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is effective against all variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the Delta variant. (Mint)
9 July 2021 –
The Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation announces that it no longer considers the giant panda to be endangered, but instead considers it to be vulnerable. This comes five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature made a similar reclassification. (The Guardian)
26 June 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
As South Africa faces its third wave of COVID-19, scientists say that the Delta variant of the virus appears to be dominating most of the infections in the worst-hit country in Africa. South Africa reported over 18,000 new cases on Friday. (Reuters)
25 June 2021 –
Chinese archaelogists report in the journal The Innovation that a skull discovered in Harbin in 1933 by a Manchukuo National Railway bridge, known as Homo longi or "Dragon Man", belongs to a previously undiscovered species of early humans dating back 146,000 years ago. (BBC)
17 June 2021 –
French scientists announce in a Current Biology paper that coelacanths are capable of living up to 100 years, contrary to the long-held belief that they only live up to 20 years. (The Guardian)

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