Critical Thinking About Science

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Background: Describe the phenomenon, and discussion the history of the Scientist/s who developed the hypothesis to explain it.

Adequacy: State the hypothesis (since a series of hypothesis may have been formulated over time you may need to choose only one). Discuss how well the hypothesis fits/explains the data. Also discuss the evidence (the data) that were collected to support the hypothesis empirically.

Internal coherence: This topic will be challenging if you choose an established hypothesis in its’ current form. You may have to settle for a paragraph beginning, “the hypothesis appears to be coherent,” then provide a brief discussion of threats to coherence which you considered.

External consistency: What established theories did/does the hypothesis agree or disagree with?

Fruitfulness: This topic may be addressed either in terms of the application of the hypothesis in other areas of science or its’ usefulness in medicine, etc. or both.

Required Sources: You must use at least three sources, only one of which may be “Wikipedia”. Choose an appropriate citation style, e.g., APA, MLA, AMA. Provide a list of sources cited at the end of the paper. You must also show the reader in the body of the text where each source is used.

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Abstract

In science, any theory must pass through the hypothesis stage. A hypothesis describes a theory that has not yet been tested, whether it is valid or not. Therefore, any scientific theory once was a hypothesis. Most scientists have come up with various hypotheses that were once tested, while others were not. A hypothesis must meet the following criteria: adequacy, internal coherence, external consistency, and fruitfulness. In this assignment, Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of the solar system will be discussed.

Brief History of the Hypothesis

Scientist held different perspectives regarding the Earth; most believed that it was in a fixed position at the center of the universe, and it was besieged by the numerous concentric rotating spheres that included the Moon, the Sun, and planets. A big question, which puzzled the scientists, was the retrograding of planets across the sky. The heliocentric theory of Copernicus was to explain why the planets were seen to retrograde in the sky (Gingerich, MacLachlan, 2004). The Copernicus theory came to explain most of the observations made by astronomers. Part of its revolutionary perspectives were that the Earth always rotates on its axis on a daily basis and revolves around the Sun annually. The heliocentric theory held most of the characteristics of its predecessors; a key concept embraced was the planetary spheres. According to the heliocentric theory, the sphere containing the stars became deemed as stationary. The heliocentric theory resolved most of the problems held by its predecessors; the apparent yearly movement of the Sun and stars, the retrograde movement of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, and that Venus and Mercury never travel more than a given distance from the Sun. In fact, Copernicus reordered the planets according to the time they took to revolve around the center of the Earth. This was unlike the Ptolemy’s theory of the universe, which was revolving around the idea that the time a plant took to make a revolution depended on the radius of the planet’s orbit. Through Copernicus’ suggestion that the Earth was the core of the solar system, simple elucidations regarding the retrograding motion and varying brilliance of planets could be established. First, planets varied in brightness, since they were having varying distances from the Earth. Second, the retrograde motion was due to the faster motion of planets having smaller orbits. Therefore, the Copernicus’ theory of the solar system was a significant one in explaining the retrograde motion of planets.

History of the Scientist

Copernicus was a Polish astronomer; he received a solid education emanating from the influence of his uncle, who served as a Bishop. He furthered his education at the University of Bologna, where he became interested in astronomy. As he was at this university, he befriended a professor, who was remarkably skeptical regarding the Ptolemaic perspective of the universe. As Copernicus shared his skepticism, he looked for a solution, which could resolve the problems initially unresolved by the Ptolemy’s theory. It was through his determination that he came up with the heliocentric theory (Somervill, 2008).

Adequacy

The chief hypothesis assumed by Copernicus was that the planets had retrograde motion and varying brightness. This hypothesis is valid, since there is the center of the universe and the center of the solar system, and the planets have varying distances from it. However, this would explain why different planets had varying brightness. A planet near the center of the universe will have more brightness, as compared to the planets further away from the center of the universe. Therefore, the brightness of a planet depends on the proximity of a planet to the core of the universe. On the other hand, the retrograde motion of planets can be explained in terms of geometry, where planets with smaller orbits have faster motion, as compared to the planets with vast orbits. Different astronomers agree with the Copernicus’ observation, since the retrograde motion they observed became answered. Data collected by various scientists indicated that planets had varying distances from the Earth, which was a clear explanation of the Copernicus’ hypothesis.

Internal Coherence

The hypothesis seems coherent from the fact that brightness of planets can vary depending on the space between the core of the universe and the planets. Brightness will always tend to be extreme for the planets near the center of the universe and less so for the planets that are further from the center of the universe. Also, from the observations made by the astronomers on the retrograde motion of planets the hypothesis seems coherent. Despite the coherence, there are some threats to coherence. One such threat is that the predictions regarding planetary positions were not exceedingly accurate planets (Copernicus et al., 1992). Copernicus understood this; therefore, did not provide any observational proof. Lack of an observational proof is a threat to the hypothesis, since it may seem inaccurate. In addition, the hypothesis contradicts the Bible, and is contrary to the common sense. The use of geometry to explain retrograde motion of planets was not sufficient enough to explain the motion. This is a threat to the coherence of the hypothesis as well.

External Consistency

The hypothesis of Copernicus supported the idea postulated by his predecessors that planetary spheres exist, and the spheres are the outermost and contain stars. Copernicus’ hypothesis further agreed with various astronomers that there was a retrograding motion shown by the planets in the sky. However, his hypothesis differed with the explanation of the retrograding motion given by Ptolemy. According to the Ptolemy’s theory, there was retrograding of the planets, since the Moon, the Sun, and planets moved in epicycles, as they travelled in their vast orbits around the fixed Earth. In addition, the hypothesis did not agree with the hypothesis that the motion of the Earth and other planets became influenced by the Sun; however, his hypothesis was the idea that the center of the universe influenced the motion of the Earth and other planets (Copernicus et al., 1992).

Fruitfulness

The hypothesis of Copernicus is a critical hypothesis in understanding what causes seasons. It is remarkably vital to understand seasons, since every individual relies on the season in planning events and tasks. Take, for instance, farmers, who need to understand seasons in order to know the planting and harvesting periods. Without such a prediction, it would become exceedingly difficult to plan effectively. Besides, the hypothesis helps in predicting the distances of planets from the Sun. This is vital for astronomers and physics scientists. Therefore, the Copernicus’ hypothesis is fruitful.

Conclusion

The heliocentric theory of Copernicus was to explain why the planets were seen to retrograde in the sky. The Copernicus’ theory came to explain most of the observations made by astronomers. Part of its revolutionary perspectives were that the Earth always rotates on its axis on a daily basis and revolves around the sun annually (Somervill, 2008). The heliocentric theory held most of the characteristics of its predecessors; a key concept embraced was the planetary spheres. The hypothesis of Copernicus is a critical hypothesis in understanding what causes seasons. It is remarkably vital to understand the seasons, since every individual relies on the season in planning events and tasks. The hypothesis seems coherent from the fact that brightness of planets can vary depending on the space amid the core of the universe and the planets. Brightness will always tend to be extreme for the planets near the center of the universe and less so for the planets that are further from the center of the universe.

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