The Scientific Method in Geology



The Scientific Method in Geology
By Tirumala Prasad

Our scientists and researchers have been contributing to the enhancement of knowledge. The description of knowledge is known as science. The interpretation of knowledge is the philosophy. Research is meant for the advancement of our knowledge.

There are several problems in various fields. For instance, there are several explanations given by various scientists about the origin of the universe. Hubble could explain the expansion of the universe through his popular law, which is known as the Hubble’s law. According to it, the universe has been expanding and its age is about 13 billion years. He calculated the age of the universe by using his own equation, which states that the recessional velocity of galaxies from the planet earth is directly proportional to the distance from the earth. But according to some other scientists, the age of the universe is more than 13 billion years and is about 15 billion years. Thus there is a controversy about the age as well as the expansion or contraction of the universe!.

The scientific method does involve five steps. Identification of the problem or questioning is the first step. For instance, one can ask a question such as the origin of magma in the crustal region of the earth. The crustal region does not contain the temperatures required for the origin of the magma!. The second step is the collection of data or laboratory tests or measurements or experimentation. Based on the laboratory investigations, explanation or hypothesis can be done. The required temperatures for magma generation in the crustal region were due to the plate movements and also the subduction zones, according to some explanations. But still research has been going on in several countries of the world to explain the phenomenon.

Thus the hypothesis or explanations will be tested. They can either be rejected or accepted. If they are rejected, further investigations will be done. If an explanation is accepted, it will become a theory. Plate tectonics theory is an example of an accepted hypothesis or explanation. Nebular hypothesis theory is an another example. The accepted theories will be further tested and if they are accepted, they will become the laws. Gravitational law, laws of motion, thermodynamics laws, etc are the examples for the accepted theories.

The Scientists could also explain the variation of colours of same species of fossils at different locations. Collection of samples and heating in the laboratory could give the answer. If fossils are buried for millions of years, their colour would change due to changes in temperature and pressure conditions!.

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