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Natural science is one of the
branches of science The branches of science, also referred to as sciences, scientific fields or scientific disciplines, are commonly divided into three major groups: * Formal sciences: the study of formal systems, such as those under the branches of logic and ...
concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of natural phenomena, based on
empirical evidence Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence is of central importance to the sciences and ...
from
observation Observation is the active acquisition of information from a primary source. In living beings, observation employs the senses. In science, observation can also involve the perception and recording of data (information), data via the use of scienti ...
and experimentation. Mechanisms such as
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer revie ...
and repeatability of findings are used to try to ensure the validity of scientific advances. Natural science can be divided into two main branches:
life science Life is a quality that distinguishes matter that has biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from that which does not, and is defined by the capacity for Cell growth, growth, reaction to Stimu ...
and
physical science Physical science is a branch of natural science that studies non-living systems, in contrast to life science. It in turn has many branches, each referred to as a "physical science", together called the "physical sciences". Definition Phy ...
. Life science is alternatively known as
biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of Cell (biology), cells that proce ...
, and physical science is subdivided into branches:
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
,
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties ...
,
earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is one of the branches of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Nature, natural Phenomenon, phenomena, based on empirical evid ...
, and
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronology of the Universe, evolution. Objects of interest ...
. These branches of natural science may be further divided into more specialized branches (also known as fields). As empirical sciences, natural sciences use tools from the
formal science Formal science is a Branches of science, branch of science studying disciplines concerned with abstract structures described by formal systems, such as logic, mathematics, statistics, theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, inform ...
s, such as
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
and
logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both Mathematical logic, formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of Validity (logic), deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating h ...
, converting information about nature into measurements which can be explained as clear statements of the " laws of nature". Modern natural science succeeded more classical approaches to
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') is the philosophy, philosophical study of Physics (Aristotle), physics, that is, nature and the physical universe. It was dominant before the development of mode ...
, usually traced to Taoists traditions in Asia and in the West to
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
.
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. Commonly referred to as Galileo, his name was pronounced (, ). He was ...
, Descartes,
Bacon Bacon is a type of Curing (food preservation), salt-cured pork made from various cuts of meat, cuts, typically the pork belly, belly or less fatty parts of the back. It is eaten as a side dish (particularly in breakfasts), used as a central in ...
, and Newton debated the benefits of using approaches which were more
mathematical Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
and more experimental in a methodical way. Still, philosophical perspectives,
conjecture In mathematics, a conjecture is a Consequent, conclusion or a proposition that is proffered on a tentative basis without Formal proof, proof. Some conjectures, such as the Riemann hypothesis (still a conjecture) or Fermat's Last Theorem (a conje ...
s, and presuppositions, often overlooked, remain necessary in natural science. Systematic data collection, including discovery science, succeeded natural history, which emerged in the 16th century by describing and classifying plants, animals, minerals, and so on. Today, "natural history" suggests observational descriptions aimed at popular audiences.


Criteria

Philosophers of science have suggested several criteria, including
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher, academic and social commentator. One of the 20th century's most influential philosophers of science, Popper is known for his rejection of the cl ...
's controversial
falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the Philosophy of science, philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book ''The Logic of Scientific Discovery'' (1934). He proposed it as t ...
criterion, to help them differentiate scientific endeavors from non-scientific ones. Validity,
accuracy Accuracy and precision are two measures of ''observational error''. ''Accuracy'' is how close a given set of measurements (observations or readings) are to their ''true value'', while ''precision'' is how close the measurements are to each other ...
, and
quality control Quality control (QC) is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved in Production (economics), production. ISO 9000 defines quality control as "a part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements" ...
, such as
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer revie ...
and repeatability of findings, are amongst the most respected criteria in today's global scientific community. In natural science, impossibility assertions come to be widely accepted as overwhelmingly probable rather than considered proved to the point of being unchallengeable. The basis for this strong acceptance is a combination of extensive evidence of something not occurring, combined with an underlying theory, very successful in making predictions, whose assumptions lead logically to the conclusion that something is impossible. While an impossibility assertion in natural science can never be absolutely proved, it could be refuted by the observation of a single counterexample. Such a counterexample would require that the assumptions underlying the theory that implied the impossibility be re-examined.


Branches of natural science


Biology

This field encompasses a diverse set of disciplines that examines phenomena related to living organisms. The scale of study can range from sub-component
biophysics Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study Biology, biological phenomena. Biophysics covers all scales of biological organization, from Molecule, molecular to organismic ...
up to complex ecologies. Biology is concerned with the characteristics,
classification Classification is a process related to categorization, the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated and understood. Classification is the grouping of related facts into classes. It may also refer to: Business, organizat ...
and behaviors of
organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multicellular o ...
s, as well as how
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of Taxonomy (biology), classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of ...
were formed and their interactions with each other and the environment. The biological fields of
botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...
,
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological clas ...
, and
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
date back to early periods of civilization, while
microbiology Microbiology () is the scientific study of microorganisms, those being unicellular (single cell), multicellular (cell colony), or acellular (lacking cells). Microbiology encompasses numerous sub-disciplines including virology, bacteriolog ...
was introduced in the 17th century with the invention of the microscope. However, it was not until the 19th century that biology became a unified science. Once scientists discovered commonalities between all living things, it was decided they were best studied as a whole. Some key developments in biology were the discovery of
genetics Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) It is an important branch in biology because heredity is vital to organisms' evolution. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian Augustinians, Augustinian fr ...
;
evolution Evolution is change in the heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to ...
through
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, traits characteristic of a populati ...
; the
germ theory of disease The germ theory of disease is the currently accepted scientific theory for many diseases. It states that microorganisms known as pathogens or "germs" can lead to disease. These small organisms, too small to be seen without magnification, invade h ...
and the application of the techniques of
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties ...
and
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
at the level of the cell or
organic molecule In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, catenate (form chains with other carbon atoms), millions of organic c ...
. Modern biology is divided into subdisciplines by the type of organism and by the scale being studied.
Molecular biology Molecular biology is the branch of biology that seeks to understand the molecule, molecular basis of biological activity in and between Cell (biology), cells, including biomolecule, biomolecular synthesis, modification, mechanisms, and interact ...
is the study of the fundamental chemistry of life, while
cellular biology Cell biology (also cellular biology or cytology) is a branch of biology that studies the Anatomy, structure, Physiology, function, and behavior of cell (biology), cells. All living organisms are made of cells. A cell is the basic unit of life th ...
is the examination of the cell; the basic building block of all life. At a higher level,
anatomy Anatomy () is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science that deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its ...
and
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying the ...
look at the internal structures, and their functions, of an organism, while
ecology Ecology () is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their biophysical environment, physical environment. Ecology considers organisms at the individual, population, community (ecology), community, ecosy ...
looks at how various organisms interrelate.


Earth science

Earth science (also known as geoscience), is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large list of largest lakes and seas in the Solar System, volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only water distributi ...
, including
geology Geology () is a branch of natural science concerned with Earth and other Astronomical object, astronomical objects, the features or rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Modern geology ...
,
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, i ...
,
geophysics Geophysics () is a subject of natural science concerned with the physical processes and Physical property, physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term ...
,
geochemistry Geochemistry is the science that uses the tools and principles of chemistry to explain the mechanisms behind major geological systems such as the Earth's crust and its oceans. The realm of geochemistry extends beyond the Earth, encompassing the e ...
,
climatology Climatology (from Greek , ''klima'', "place, zone"; and , '' -logia'') or climate science is the scientific study of Earth's climate, typically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of at least 30 years. This modern field of st ...
,
glaciology Glaciology (; ) is the scientific study of glaciers, or more generally ice and natural phenomena that involve ice. Glaciology is an interdisciplinary Earth science that integrates geophysics, geology, physical geography, geomorphology, climato ...
,
hydrology Hydrology () is the scientific study of the movement, distribution, and management of water on Earth and other planets, including the water cycle, water resources, and environmental watershed sustainability. A practitioner of hydrology is calle ...
,
meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences (which include atmospheric chemistry and physics) with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not ...
, and
oceanography Oceanography (), also known as oceanology and ocean science, is the scientific study of the oceans. It is an Earth science, which covers a wide range of topics, including ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, Wind wave, waves, and geophysical flu ...
. Although
mining Mining is the Extractivism, extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein (geology), vein, coal mining, seam, quartz reef mining, reef, or placer deposit. The exploitation of ...
and precious stones have been human interests throughout the history of civilization, the development of the related sciences of economic geology and
mineralogy Mineralogy is a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, and physical (including optical mineralogy, optical) properties of minerals and mineralized artifact (archaeology), artifacts. Specific s ...
did not occur until the 18th century. The study of the earth, particularly
paleontology Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene epoch (geology), epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes t ...
, blossomed in the 19th century. The growth of other disciplines, such as
geophysics Geophysics () is a subject of natural science concerned with the physical processes and Physical property, physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term ...
, in the 20th century, led to the development of the theory of
plate tectonics Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin, tectonicus, from the grc, τεκτονικός, lit=pertaining to building) is the generally accepted scientific theory that considers the Earth's lithosphere to comprise a number of large te ...
in the 1960s, which has had a similar effect on the Earth sciences as the theory of evolution had on biology. Earth sciences today are closely linked to
petroleum Petroleum, also known as crude oil, or simply oil, is a naturally occurring yellowish-black liquid mixture of mainly hydrocarbons, and is found in geological formations. The name ''petroleum'' covers both naturally occurring unprocessed crude ...
and mineral resources,
climate Climate is the long-term weather pattern in an area, typically averaged over 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorologi ...
research and to
environmental assessment Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) is the assessment of the environmental consequences of a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. In this context, the term "environmental imp ...
and remediation.


Atmospheric sciences

Although sometimes considered in conjunction with the earth sciences, due to the independent development of its concepts, techniques, and practices and also the fact of it having a wide range of sub-disciplines under its wing,
atmospheric science Atmospheric science is the study of the Earth's atmosphere The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, known collectively as air, retained by Gravity of Earth, Earth's gravity that surrounds the planet and forms its planetary atmosphere. T ...
is also considered a separate branch of natural science. This field studies the characteristics of different layers of the atmosphere from ground level to the edge of the space. The timescale of the study also varies from day to century. Sometimes the field also includes the study of climatic patterns on planets other than earth.


Oceanography

The serious study of oceans began in the early- to the mid-20th century. As a field of natural science, it is relatively young but stand-alone programs offer specializations in the subject. Though some controversies remain as to the categorization of the field under earth sciences, interdisciplinary sciences, or as a separate field in its own right, most modern workers in the field agree that it has matured to a state that it has its own paradigms and practices.


Planetary science

Planetary science Planetary science (or more rarely, planetology) is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), Astronomical object, celestial bodies (such as Natural satellite, moons, Asteroid, asteroids, Comets, comets) and planetary systems (in particula ...
or planetology, is the scientific study of planets, which include
terrestrial planets A terrestrial planet, telluric planet, or rocky planet, is a planet that is composed primarily of silicate Rock (geology), rocks or metals. Within the Solar System, the terrestrial planets accepted by the IAU are the inner planets closest to the S ...
like the Earth, and other types of planets, such as gas giants other celestial bodies, such as
moons A natural satellite is, in the most common usage, an astronomical object, astronomical body that orbits a planet, dwarf planet, or small Solar System body (or sometimes another natural satellite). Natural satellites are often colloquially ref ...
,
asteroids An asteroid is a minor planet of the Solar System#Inner solar system, inner Solar System. Sizes and shapes of asteroids vary significantly, ranging from 1-meter rocks to a dwarf planet almost 1000 km in diameter; they are rocky, metallic o ...
, and comets. This largely includes the
Solar System The Solar SystemCapitalization of the name varies. The International Astronomical Union, the authoritative body regarding astronomical nomenclature, specifies capitalizing the names of all individual astronomical objects but uses mixed "Solar S ...
, but recently has started to expand to
exoplanets An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the Solar System. The first possible evidence of an exoplanet was noted in 1917 but was not recognized as such. The first confirmation of detection occurred in 1992. A different planet, init ...
, particularly terrestrial
exoplanets An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the Solar System. The first possible evidence of an exoplanet was noted in 1917 but was not recognized as such. The first confirmation of detection occurred in 1992. A different planet, init ...
.


Chemistry

Constituting the scientific study of matter at the
atom Every atom is composed of a atomic nucleus, nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons. Every solid, l ...
ic and
molecular A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. In quantum physics, organic chemistry, and bioche ...
scale, chemistry deals primarily with collections of atoms, such as gases, molecules,
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macrosc ...
s, and
metal A metal (from ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts electrical resistivity and conductivity, e ...
s. The composition, statistical properties, transformations, and reactions of these materials are studied. Chemistry also involves understanding the properties and interactions of individual atoms and molecules for use in larger-scale applications. Most chemical processes can be studied directly in a laboratory, using a series of (often well-tested) techniques for manipulating materials, as well as an understanding of the underlying processes. Chemistry is often called "
the central science Chemistry is often called the central science because of its role in connecting the physical sciences, which include chemistry, with the biology, life sciences and applied sciences such as medicine and engineering. The nature of this relationship ...
" because of its role in connecting the other natural sciences. Early experiments in chemistry had their roots in the system of
Alchemy Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: χυμεία, ''khumeía'') is an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscience, protoscientific tradition that was historically practiced in Chinese alchemy, C ...
, a set of beliefs combining mysticism with physical experiments. The science of chemistry began to develop with the work of
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, Alchemy, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the foun ...
, the discoverer of gas, and
Antoine Lavoisier Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ( , ; ; 26 August 17438 May 1794), When reduced without charcoal, it gave off an air which supported respiration and combustion in an enhanced way. He concluded that this was just a pure form of common air and th ...
, who developed the theory of the
Conservation of mass In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scienc ...
. The
discovery of the chemical elements The discovery of the 118 chemical elements known to exist as of 2022 is presented in chronological order. The elements are listed generally in the order in which each was first defined as the pure element, as the exact date of discovery of most el ...
and
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural science, natural world and universe that has been reproducibility, repeatedly tested and corroborated in accordance with the scientifi ...
began to systematize this science, and researchers developed a fundamental understanding of
states of matter In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and Plasma (physics), plasma. Many intermediate states are known to exist, such as ...
, ions,
chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atoms or ions that enables the formation of Molecule, molecules and crystals. The bond may result from the Coulomb's law, electrostatic force between oppositely charged ions as in Ionic bonding, ...
s and
chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the IUPAC nomenclature for organic transformations, chemical transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Classically, chemical reactions encompass changes that only involve the pos ...
s. The success of this science led to a complementary
chemical industry The chemical industry comprises the company, companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials (Petroleum, oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, and minerals) into more than 70,000 differe ...
that now plays a significant role in the world economy.


Physics

Physics embodies the study of the fundamental constituents of the
universe The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmology, cosmological description of the development of ...
, the forces and interactions they exert on one another, and the results produced by these interactions. In general, physics is regarded as the fundamental science, because all other natural sciences use and obey the field's principles and laws. Physics relies heavily on
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
as the logical framework for formulating and quantifying principles. The study of the principles of the universe has a long history and largely derives from direct observation and experimentation. The formulation of theories about the governing laws of the universe has been central to the study of physics from very early on, with
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
gradually yielding to systematic, quantitative experimental testing and observation as the source of verification. Key historical developments in physics include
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, Theology, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosophy, natural philosopher"), widely ...
's theory of universal gravitation and
classical mechanics Classical mechanics is a Theoretical physics, physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of Machine (mechanical), machinery, and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galax ...
, an understanding of
electricity Electricity is the set of physics, physical Phenomenon, phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism, both being part of the phenomenon of electromagne ...
and its relation to
magnetism Magnetism is the class of physical attributes that are mediated by a magnetic field, which refers to the capacity to induce attractive and repulsive phenomena in other entities. Electric currents and the magnetic moments of elementary particles ...
, Einstein's theories of special and
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity and Einstein's theory of gravity, is the differential geometry, geometric scientific theory, theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current descr ...
, the development of
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these quantities is governed b ...
, and the
quantum mechanical Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including qua ...
model of atomic and subatomic physics. The field of physics is extremely broad, and can include such diverse studies as
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including qua ...
and
theoretical physics Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict List of natural phenomena, natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental ph ...
, applied physics and
optics Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually describes t ...
. Modern physics is becoming increasingly specialized, where researchers tend to focus on a particular area rather than being "universalists" like
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, Theology, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosophy, natural philosopher"), widely ...
,
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born Theoretical physics, theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of all time. Einstein is best known for d ...
and
Lev Landau Lev Davidovich Landau (russian: Лев Дави́дович Ланда́у; 22 January 1908 – 1 April 1968) was a Soviet Union, Soviet-Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani physicist of Jewish descent who made fundamental contributions to many areas of th ...
, who worked in multiple areas.


Astronomy

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Astronomy is the study of everything in the universe beyond Earth's atmosphere. That includes objects we can see with our naked eyes. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Astronomers of early civilizations performed methodical observations of the night sky, and astronomical artifacts have been found from much earlier periods. There are two types of astronomy: observational astronomy and theoretical astronomy. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring and analyzing data, mainly using basic principles of physics while Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. This discipline is the science of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the
Earth's atmosphere The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, known collectively as air, retained by Gravity of Earth, Earth's gravity that surrounds the planet and forms its planetary atmosphere. The atmosphere of Earth protects life on Earth by creating Atmo ...
. It is concerned with the evolution,
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
,
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties ...
,
meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences (which include atmospheric chemistry and physics) with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not ...
,
geology Geology () is a branch of natural science concerned with Earth and other Astronomical object, astronomical objects, the features or rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Modern geology ...
, and
motion In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its Position (geometry), position with respect to time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of Displacement (geometry), displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, speed ...
of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe. Astronomy includes the examination, study, and modeling of stars, planets, comets. Most of the information used by astronomers is gathered by remote observation, although some laboratory reproduction of celestial phenomena has been performed (such as the molecular chemistry of the
interstellar medium In astronomy, the interstellar medium is the matter and radiation that exist in the outer space, space between the star systems in a galaxy. This matter includes gas in ionic, atomic, and molecular form, as well as cosmic dust, dust and cosmic ray ...
). There is considerable overlap with
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
and in some areas of
earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is one of the branches of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Nature, natural Phenomenon, phenomena, based on empirical evid ...
. There are also interdisciplinary fields such as
astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matt ...
,
planetary sciences Planetary science (or more rarely, planetology) is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), Astronomical object, celestial bodies (such as Natural satellite, moons, Asteroid, asteroids, Comets, comets) and planetary systems (in particula ...
, and
cosmology Cosmology () is a branch of physics and metaphysics dealing with the nature of the universe. The term ''cosmology'' was first used in English in 1656 in Thomas Blount (lexicographer), Thomas Blount's ''Glossographia'', and in 1731 taken up in ...
, along with allied disciplines such as
space physics Space physics, also known as solar-terrestrial physics or space-plasma physics, is the study of Plasma (physics), plasmas as they occur naturally in the Earth's Near space, upper atmosphere (aeronomy) and within the Solar System. As such, it encompa ...
and astrochemistry. While the origins of the study of celestial features and phenomena can be traced back to antiquity, the scientific methodology of this field began to develop in the middle of the 17th century. A key factor was
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. Commonly referred to as Galileo, his name was pronounced (, ). He was ...
's introduction of the telescope to examine the night sky in more detail. The mathematical treatment of astronomy began with Newton's development of
celestial mechanics Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronol ...
and the laws of
gravitation In physics, gravity () is a fundamental interaction which causes mutual attraction between all things with mass or energy. Gravity is, by far, the weakest of the four fundamental interactions, approximately 1038 times weaker than the strong ...
, although it was triggered by earlier work of astronomers such as Kepler. By the 19th century, astronomy had developed into formal science, with the introduction of instruments such as the spectroscope and
photography Photography is the visual art, art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It i ...
, along with much-improved telescopes and the creation of professional observatories.


Interdisciplinary studies

The distinctions between the natural science disciplines are not always sharp, and they share many cross-discipline fields. Physics plays a significant role in the other natural sciences, as represented by
astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matt ...
,
geophysics Geophysics () is a subject of natural science concerned with the physical processes and Physical property, physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term ...
, chemical physics and
biophysics Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study Biology, biological phenomena. Biophysics covers all scales of biological organization, from Molecule, molecular to organismic ...
. Likewise chemistry is represented by such fields as
biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided into three fields: structural biology, enzymology a ...
,
chemical biology Chemical biology is a scientific discipline spanning the fields of chemistry and biology. The discipline involves the application of chemical techniques, analysis, and often small molecules produced through chemical synthesis, synthetic chemistry, ...
,
geochemistry Geochemistry is the science that uses the tools and principles of chemistry to explain the mechanisms behind major geological systems such as the Earth's crust and its oceans. The realm of geochemistry extends beyond the Earth, encompassing the e ...
and astrochemistry. A particular example of a scientific discipline that draws upon multiple natural sciences is
environmental science Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physics, biology, and geography (including ecology, chemistry, plant science, zoology, mineralogy, oceanography, limnology, soil science, geology and physical geograp ...
. This field studies the interactions of physical, chemical, geological, and biological components of the environment, with particular regard to the effect of human activities and the impact on
biodiversity Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic (''genetic variability''), species (''species diversity''), and ecosystem (''ecosystem d ...
and
sustainability Specific definitions of sustainability are difficult to agree on and have varied in the literature and over time. The concept of sustainability can be used to guide decisions at the global, national, and individual levels (e.g. sustainable livi ...
. This science also draws upon expertise from other fields such as economics, law, and social sciences. A comparable discipline is
oceanography Oceanography (), also known as oceanology and ocean science, is the scientific study of the oceans. It is an Earth science, which covers a wide range of topics, including ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, Wind wave, waves, and geophysical flu ...
, as it draws upon a similar breadth of scientific disciplines. Oceanography is sub-categorized into more specialized cross-disciplines, such as
physical oceanography Physical oceanography is the study of physics, physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters. Physical oceanography is one of several sub-domains into which oceanograph ...
and
marine biology Marine biology is the scientific study of the biology of marine life, organisms in the sea. Given that in biology many scientific classification, phyla, family (biology), families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others th ...
. As the
marine ecosystem Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems and exist in Saline water, waters that have a high salt content. These systems contrast with freshwater ecosystems, which have a lower salt content. Marine waters cover more than 70 ...
is very large and diverse, marine biology is further divided into many subfields, including specializations in particular
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of Taxonomy (biology), classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of ...
. There is also a subset of cross-disciplinary fields that have strong currents that run counter to specialization by the nature of the problems that they address. Put another way: In some fields of integrative application, specialists in more than one field are a key part of the most dialog. Such integrative fields, for example, include nanoscience,
astrobiology Astrobiology, and the related field of exobiology, is an interdisciplinary scientific field that studies the abiogenesis, origins, Protocell, early evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology is the multidisciplin ...
, and
complex system A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interaction, interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infrastructure such as power grid, transportation or com ...
informatics Informatics is the study of computational systems, especially those for data storage and Information retrieval, retrieval. According to ACM ''Europe and'' ''Informatics Europe'', informatics is synonymous with computer science and computing as a ...
.


Materials science

Materials science is a relatively new, interdisciplinary field that deals with the study of
matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic partic ...
and its properties; as well as the discovery and design of new materials. Originally developed through the field of
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of Materials science, materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic Chemical element, elements, their Inter-metallic alloy, inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which ...
, the study of the properties of materials and solids has now expanded into all materials. The field covers the chemistry, physics, and engineering applications of materials including metals, ceramics, artificial polymers, and many others. The core of the field deals with relating the structure of materials with their properties. It is at the forefront of research in science and engineering. It is an important part of forensic engineering (the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property) and failure analysis, the latter being the key to understanding, for example, the cause of various aviation accidents. Many of the most pressing scientific problems that are faced today are due to the limitations of the materials that are available and, as a result, breakthroughs in this field are likely to have a significant impact on the future of technology. The basis of materials science involves studying the structure of materials, and relating them to their properties. Once a materials scientist knows about this structure-property correlation, they can then go on to study the relative performance of a material in a certain application. The major determinants of the structure of a material and thus of its properties are its constituent chemical elements and how it has been processed into its final form. These characteristics, taken together and related through the laws of
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these quantities is governed b ...
and kinetics, govern a material's
microstructure Microstructure is the very small scale structure of a material, defined as the structure of a prepared surface of material as revealed by an optical microscope above 25× magnification. The microstructure of a material (such as Metallography, m ...
, and thus its properties.


History

Some scholars trace the origins of natural science as far back as pre-literate human societies, where understanding the natural world was necessary for survival. People observed and built up knowledge about the behavior of animals and the usefulness of plants as food and medicine, which was passed down from generation to generation. These primitive understandings gave way to more formalized inquiry around 3500 to 3000 BC in the
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
n and
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
ian cultures, which produced the first known written evidence of
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') is the philosophy, philosophical study of Physics (Aristotle), physics, that is, nature and the physical universe. It was dominant before the development of mode ...
, the precursor of natural science. While the writings show an interest in astronomy, mathematics, and other aspects of the physical world, the ultimate aim of inquiry about nature's workings was in all cases religious or mythological, not scientific. A tradition of scientific inquiry also emerged in
Ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the '' Book of Documents'' (early chapt ...
, where
Taoist Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
alchemists and philosophers experimented with elixirs to extend life and cure ailments. They focused on the
yin and yang Yin and yang ( and ) is a Chinese philosophical concept that describes opposite but interconnected forces. In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of yin and ya ...
, or contrasting elements in nature; the yin was associated with femininity and coldness, while yang was associated with masculinity and warmth. The five phases – fire, earth, metal, wood, and water – described a cycle of transformations in nature. The water turned into wood, which turned into the fire when it burned. The ashes left by fire were earth. Using these principles, Chinese philosophers and doctors explored human anatomy, characterizing organs as predominantly yin or yang, and understood the relationship between the pulse, the heart, and the flow of blood in the body centuries before it became accepted in the West. Little evidence survives of how
Ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. Quote: "Y-Chromosome and Mt-DNA data support the colonization of South Asia by ...
n cultures around the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans- Himalayan river of South and Central Asia. The river rises in mountain springs northeast of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, flows northwest through the disputed region of Ka ...
understood nature, but some of their perspectives may be reflected in the
Vedas FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Co ...
, a set of sacred
Hindu Hindus (; ) are people who religiously adhere to Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for ...
texts. They reveal a conception of the universe as ever-expanding and constantly being recycled and reformed. Surgeons in the
Ayurvedic Ayurveda () is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurveda is pseudoscientific. Ayurveda is heavily practiced in India and Nepal, where around 80% of the population repor ...
tradition saw health and illness as a combination of three humors:
wind Wind is the natural movement of atmosphere of Earth, air or other gases relative to a planetary surface, planet's surface. Winds occur on a range of scales, from thunderstorm flows lasting tens of minutes, to local breezes generated by heating ...
,
bile Bile (from Latin ''bilis''), or gall, is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile) ...
and phlegm. A healthy life was the result of a balance among these humors. In Ayurvedic thought, the body consisted of five elements: earth, water, fire, wind, and space. Ayurvedic surgeons performed complex surgeries and developed a detailed understanding of human anatomy.
Pre-Socratic Pre-Socratic philosophy, also known as early Greek philosophy, is ancient Greek philosophy before Socrates. Pre-Socratic philosophers were mostly interested in cosmology, the beginning and the substance of the universe, but the inquiries of thes ...
philosophers in
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
culture brought natural philosophy a step closer to direct inquiry about cause and effect in nature between 600 and 400 BC, although an element of magic and mythology remained. Natural phenomena such as earthquakes and eclipses were explained increasingly in the context of nature itself instead of being attributed to angry gods.
Thales of Miletus Thales of Miletus ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Θαλῆς, Θαλῆς; ) was a Greeks, Greek Greek Mathematics, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and Pre-Socratic philosophy, pre-Socratic philosopher from Miletus in Ionia, Asia Minor. He was one of ...
, an early philosopher who lived from 625 to 546 BC, explained earthquakes by theorizing that the world floated on water and that water was the fundamental element in nature. In the 5th century BC, Leucippus was an early exponent of
atomism Atomism (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''atomon'', i.e. "uncuttable, indivisible") is a natural philosophy proposing that the physical universe is composed of fundamental indivisible components known as atoms. References to the concept of atomism ...
, the idea that the world is made up of fundamental indivisible particles.
Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos ( grc, Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος, Pythagóras ho Sámios, Pythagoras the Samos, Samian, or simply ; in Ionian Greek; ) was an ancient Ionians, Ionian Ancient Greek philosophy, Greek philosopher and the eponymou ...
applied Greek innovations in mathematics to astronomy, and suggested that the earth was spherical.


Aristotelian natural philosophy (400 BC–1100 AD)

Later Socratic and
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
nic thought focused on ethics, morals and art and did not attempt an investigation of the physical world; Plato criticized pre-Socratic thinkers as materialists and anti-religionists.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, however, a student of Plato who lived from 384 to 322 BC, paid closer attention to the natural world in his philosophy. In his ''
History of Animals ''History of Animals'' ( grc-gre, Τῶν περὶ τὰ ζῷα ἱστοριῶν, ''Ton peri ta zoia historion'', "Inquiries on Animals"; la, Historia Animalium, "History of Animals") is one of the major Aristotle's biology, texts on biolo ...
'', he described the inner workings of 110 species, including the
stingray Stingrays are a group of sea rays, which are cartilaginous fish related to shark Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a Chondrichthyes#Skeleton, cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the h ...
,
catfish Catfish (or catfishes; order (biology), order Siluriformes or Nematognathi) are a diverse group of Actinopterygii, ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbel (anatomy), barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers, catfish range in size a ...
and
bee Bees are winged insects closely related to wasp A wasp is any insect of the narrow-waisted suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera which is neither a bee nor an ant; this excludes the broad-waisted sawflies (Symphyta), which lo ...
. He investigated chick embryos by breaking open eggs and observing them at various stages of development. Aristotle's works were influential through the 16th century, and he is considered to be the father of biology for his pioneering work in that science. He also presented philosophies about physics, nature, and astronomy using
inductive reasoning Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning in which a general principle is derived from a body of observations. It consists of making broad generalizations based on specific observations. Inductive reasoning is distinct from Deductive reasonin ...
in his works ''
Physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
'' and ''
Meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences (which include atmospheric chemistry and physics) with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not ...
''. While Aristotle considered natural philosophy more seriously than his predecessors, he approached it as a theoretical branch of science. Still, inspired by his work,
Ancient Roman In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom ...
philosophers of the early 1st century AD, including
Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus ( , ;  – ) was a Ancient Rome, Roman Roman literature, poet and Ancient Roman philosophy, philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem ''De rerum natura'', a didactic work about the tenets and philosoph ...
, Seneca and
Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman Empire, Roman author, Natural history, naturalist and Natural philosophy, natural philosopher, and naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and a friend of t ...
, wrote treatises that dealt with the rules of the natural world in varying degrees of depth. Many
Ancient Roman In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom ...
Neoplatonists Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonism, Platonic philosophy that emerged in the 3rd century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and Hellenistic religion, religion. The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as a chain of ...
of the 3rd to the 6th centuries also adapted Aristotle's teachings on the physical world to a philosophy that emphasized spiritualism. Early
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
philosophers including
Macrobius Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, usually referred to as Macrobius (fl. AD 400), was a Roman provincial who lived during the early fifth century, during late antiquity, the period of time corresponding to the Later Roman Empire, and when Latin was ...
, Calcidius and
Martianus Capella Martianus Minneus Felix Capella (fl. c. 410–420) was a jurist, polymath and Latin literature, Latin prose writer of late antiquity, one of the earliest developers of the system of the seven liberal arts that structured early medieval educati ...
also examined the physical world, largely from a cosmological and cosmographical perspective, putting forth theories on the arrangement of celestial bodies and the heavens, which were posited as being composed of aether. Aristotle's works on natural philosophy continued to be translated and studied amid the rise of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
and
Abbasid Caliphate The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
. In the Byzantine Empire,
John Philoponus John Philoponus (Greek language, Greek: ; ; c. 490 – c. 570), also known as John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria, was a Byzantine Greek philologist, commentaries on Aristotle, Aristotelian commentator, Christian theology, Christian theologi ...
, an Alexandrian Aristotelian commentator and Christian theologian was the first who questioned Aristotle's teaching of physics. Unlike Aristotle who based his physics on verbal argument, Philoponus instead relied on observation and argued for observation rather than resorting to a verbal argument. He introduced the
theory of impetus The theory of impetus was an auxiliary or secondary theory of Aristotelian dynamics, put forth initially to explain projectile motion against gravity. It was introduced by John Philoponus John Philoponus (Greek language, Greek: ; ; c. 490 – ...
. John Philoponus' criticism of Aristotelian principles of physics served as inspiration for Galileo Galilei during the
Scientific Revolution The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that marked the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, fo ...
. A revival in mathematics and science took place during the time of the
Abbasid Caliphate The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
from the 9th century onward, when Muslim scholars expanded upon Greek and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
n natural philosophy. The words ''
alcohol Alcohol most commonly refers to: * Alcohol (chemistry) In chemistry, an alcohol is a type of organic compound that carries at least one hydroxyl () functional group bound to a Saturated and unsaturated compounds, saturated carbon atom. The ...
'', ''
algebra Algebra () is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics. Roughly speaking, algebra is the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols in formulas; it is a unifying thread of almost all of mathem ...
'' and ''
zenith The zenith (, ) is an imaginary point directly "above" a particular location, on the celestial sphere. "Above" means in the vertical direction (plumb line) opposite to the gravity direction at that location (nadir). The zenith is the "highest" ...
'' all have
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...
roots.


Medieval natural philosophy (1100–1600)

Aristotle's works and other Greek natural philosophy did not reach the West until about the middle of the 12th century, when works were translated from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and Arabic into
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
. The development of European civilization later in the Middle Ages brought with it further advances in natural philosophy. European inventions such as the
horseshoe A horseshoe is a fabricated product designed to protect a horse hoof from wear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface (ground side) of the hooves, usually nail (engineering), nailed through the insensitive hoof wall that is anatomically ak ...
,
horse collar A horse collar is a part of a horse harness that is used to distribute the load around a horse's neck and shoulders when pulling a wagon or plough. The collar often supports and pads a pair of curved metal or wooden pieces, called Horse harness ...
and
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. It reduces reliance on one set of nutrients, pest and weed pressure, and the probability of developing resistant ...
allowed for rapid population growth, eventually giving way to urbanization and the foundation of schools connected to monasteries and cathedrals in modern-day
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
and
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
. Aided by the schools, an approach to Christian
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the ...
developed that sought to answer questions about nature and other subjects using logic. This approach, however, was seen by some detractors as
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
. By the 12th century, Western European scholars and philosophers came into contact with a body of knowledge of which they had previously been ignorant: a large corpus of works in Greek and Arabic that were preserved by Islamic scholars. Through translation into Latin, Western Europe was introduced to Aristotle and his natural philosophy. These works were taught at new universities in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), ma ...
and
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
by the early 13th century, although the practice was frowned upon by the Catholic church. A 1210 decree from the
Synod A synod () is a council of a Christian denomination, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the Latin ...
of Paris ordered that "no lectures are to be held in Paris either publicly or privately using Aristotle's books on natural philosophy or the commentaries, and we forbid all this under pain of ex-communication." In the late Middle Ages, Spanish philosopher Dominicus Gundissalinus translated a treatise by the earlier Persian scholar
Al-Farabi Abu Nasr Muhammad Al-Farabi ( fa, ابونصر محمد فارابی), ( ar, أبو نصر محمد الفارابي), known in the Western world, West as Alpharabius; (c. 872 – between 14 December, 950 and 12 January, 951)PDF version was a reno ...
called ''On the Sciences'' into Latin, calling the study of the mechanics of nature ''Scientia naturalis'', or natural science. Gundissalinus also proposed his own classification of the natural sciences in his 1150 work ''On the Division of Philosophy''. This was the first detailed classification of the sciences based on Greek and Arab philosophy to reach Western Europe. Gundissalinus defined natural science as "the science considering only things unabstracted and with motion," as opposed to mathematics and sciences that rely on mathematics. Following Al-Farabi, he then separated the sciences into eight parts, including physics, cosmology, meteorology, minerals science, and plant and animal science. Later philosophers made their own classifications of the natural sciences.
Robert Kilwardby Robert Kilwardby ( c. 1215 – 11 September 1279) was an Archbishop of Canterbury in England and a cardinal. Kilwardby was the first member of a mendicant order to attain a high ecclesiastical office in the English Church. Life Kilwardby ...
wrote ''On the Order of the Sciences'' in the 13th century that classed medicine as a mechanical science, along with agriculture, hunting and theater while defining natural science as the science that deals with bodies in motion.
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the Scholastic accolades, scholastic accolade ''Doctor Mirabilis'', was a medieval England, medieval English philosopher and Franciscans, Franciscan friar who placed consid ...
, an English friar and philosopher, wrote that natural science dealt with "a principle of motion and rest, as in the parts of the elements of fire, air, earth and water, and in all inanimate things made from them." These sciences also covered plants, animals and celestial bodies. Later in the 13th century, a Catholic priest and theologian
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...
defined natural science as dealing with "mobile beings" and "things which depend on a matter not only for their existence but also for their definition." There was wide agreement among scholars in medieval times that natural science was about bodies in motion, although there was division about the inclusion of fields including medicine, music, and perspective. Philosophers pondered questions including the existence of a vacuum, whether motion could produce heat, the colors of rainbows, the motion of the earth, whether elemental chemicals exist, and were in the atmosphere rain is formed. In the centuries up through the end of the Middle Ages, natural science was often mingled with philosophies about magic and the occult. Natural philosophy appeared in a wide range of forms, from treatises to encyclopedias to commentaries on Aristotle. The interaction between natural philosophy and
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
was complex during this period; some early theologians, including
Tatian Tatian of Adiabene, or Tatian the Syrian or Tatian the Assyrian, (; la, Tatianus; grc, Τατιανός; syc, ܛܛܝܢܘܣ; c. 120 – c. 180 AD) was an Assyrian people, Assyrian Christianity, Christian writer and Christian theologian, theologi ...
and
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος ; 260/265 – 30 May 339), also known as Eusebius Pamphilus (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμφίλου), was a Greeks, Greek historian of Christianity, exegete, and C ...
, considered natural philosophy an outcropping of pagan Greek science and were suspicious of it. Although some later Christian philosophers, including Aquinas, came to see natural science as a means of interpreting scripture, this suspicion persisted until the 12th and 13th centuries. The Condemnation of 1277, which forbade setting philosophy on a level equal with theology and the debate of religious constructs in a scientific context, showed the persistence with which Catholic leaders resisted the development of natural philosophy even from a theological perspective. Aquinas and
Albertus Magnus Albertus Magnus (c. 1200 – 15 November 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great or Albert of Cologne, was a German Dominican Order, Dominican friar, philosopher, scientist, and Bishop in the Catholic Church, bishop. Later Canonization ...
, another Catholic theologian of the era, sought to distance theology from science in their works. "I don't see what one's interpretation of Aristotle has to do with the teaching of the faith," he wrote in 1271.


Newton and the scientific revolution (1600–1800)

By the 16th and 17th centuries, natural philosophy underwent an evolution beyond commentary on Aristotle as more early Greek philosophy was uncovered and translated. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the invention of the microscope and telescope, and the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in ...
fundamentally altered the social context in which scientific inquiry evolved in the West.
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, link=no, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was a ...
's discovery of a new world changed perceptions about the physical makeup of the world, while observations by
Copernicus Nicolaus Copernicus (; pl, Mikołaj Kopernik; gml, Niklas Koppernigk, german: Nikolaus Kopernikus; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, ...
, Tyco Brahe and
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. Commonly referred to as Galileo, his name was pronounced (, ). He was ...
brought a more accurate picture of the solar system as
heliocentric Heliocentrism (also known as the Heliocentric model) is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun at the center of the universe. Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to Geocentric model, geocentrism, which p ...
and proved many of Aristotle's theories about the heavenly bodies false. Several 17th-century philosophers, including
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English people, English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan (Hobbes book), Levi ...
,
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "father of liberalism ...
and
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England England is a Countries of ...
made a break from the past by rejecting Aristotle and his medieval followers outright, calling their approach to natural philosophy as superficial. The titles of Galileo's work ''Two New Sciences'' and
Johannes Kepler Johannes Kepler (; ; 27 December 1571 – 15 November 1630) was a German astronomer, German mathematician, mathematician, astrologer, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and writer on music. He is a key figure in the 17th-century Scienti ...
's ''New Astronomy'' underscored the atmosphere of change that took hold in the 17th century as Aristotle was dismissed in favor of novel methods of inquiry into the natural world. Bacon was instrumental in popularizing this change; he argued that people should use the
arts The arts are a very wide range of human practices of creativity, creative expression, storytelling and culture, cultural participation. They encompass multiple diverse and plural modes of thinking, doing and being, in an extremely broad ran ...
and sciences to gain dominion over nature. To achieve this, he wrote that "human life ustbe endowed with discoveries and powers." He defined natural philosophy as "the knowledge of Causes and secret motions of things; and enlarging the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible." Bacon proposed that scientific inquiry be supported by the state and fed by the collaborative research of scientists, a vision that was unprecedented in its scope, ambition, and forms at the time. Natural philosophers came to view nature increasingly as a mechanism that could be taken apart and understood, much like a complex clock. Natural philosophers including
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, Theology, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosophy, natural philosopher"), widely ...
,
Evangelista Torricelli Evangelista Torricelli ( , also , ; 15 October 160825 October 1647) was an Italian people, Italian physicist and mathematician, and a student of Galileo. He is best known for his invention of the barometer, but is also known for his advances in o ...
and
Francesco Redi Francesco Redi (18 February 1626 – 1 March 1697) was an Italian physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a he ...
conducted experiments focusing on the flow of water, measuring
atmospheric pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer), is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The Standard atmosphere (unit), standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure defined as , which is equival ...
using a
barometer A barometer is a scientific instrument that is used to measure air pressure in a certain environment. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather. Many measurements of air pressure are used within surface weather analysis ...
and disproving spontaneous generation. Scientific societies and scientific journals emerged and were spread widely through the printing press, touching off the
scientific revolution The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that marked the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, fo ...
. Newton in 1687 published his ''The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy'', or ''Principia Mathematica'', which set the groundwork for physical laws that remained current until the 19th century. Some modern scholars, including Andrew Cunningham, Perry Williams, and Floris Cohen, argue that natural philosophy is not properly called a science, and that genuine scientific inquiry began only with the scientific revolution. According to Cohen, "the emancipation of science from an overarching entity called 'natural philosophy is one defining characteristic of the Scientific Revolution." Other historians of science, including Edward Grant, contend that the scientific revolution that blossomed in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries occurred when principles learned in the exact sciences of optics, mechanics, and astronomy began to be applied to questions raised by natural philosophy. Grant argues that Newton attempted to expose the mathematical basis of nature – the immutable rules it obeyed – and in doing so joined natural philosophy and mathematics for the first time, producing an early work of modern physics. The scientific revolution, which began to take hold in the 17th century, represented a sharp break from Aristotelian modes of inquiry. One of its principal advances was the use of the
scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method for acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century (with notable practitioners in previous centuries; see the article hist ...
to investigate nature. Data was collected and repeatable measurements made in
experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy or likelihood of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs wh ...
s. Scientists then formed hypotheses to explain the results of these experiments. The hypothesis was then tested using the principle of
falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the Philosophy of science, philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book ''The Logic of Scientific Discovery'' (1934). He proposed it as t ...
to prove or disprove its accuracy. The natural sciences continued to be called natural philosophy, but the adoption of the scientific method took science beyond the realm of philosophical conjecture and introduced a more structured way of examining nature. Newton, an English mathematician, and physicist was the seminal figure in the scientific revolution. Drawing on advances made in astronomy by Copernicus, Brahe, and Kepler, Newton derived the universal law of gravitation and laws of motion. These laws applied both on earth and in outer space, uniting two spheres of the physical world previously thought to function independently of each other, according to separate physical rules. Newton, for example, showed that the
tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravity, gravitational forces exerted by the Moon (and to a much lesser extent, the Sun) and are also caused by the Earth and Moon orbiting one another. Tide t ...
s were caused by the gravitational pull of the
moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. It is the List of natural satellites, fifth largest satellite in the Solar System and the largest and most massive relative to its parent planet, with a diameter about one-quarter that of Earth ( ...
. Another of Newton's advances was to make mathematics a powerful explanatory tool for natural phenomena. While natural philosophers had long used mathematics as a means of measurement and analysis, its principles were not used as a means of understanding cause and effect in nature until Newton. In the 18th century and 19th century, scientists including
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (; ; 14 June 1736 – 23 August 1806) was a French officer, engineer, and physicist. He is best known as the eponymous discoverer of what is now called Coulomb's law, the description of the electrostatics, electrostatic ...
,
Alessandro Volta Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (, ; 18 February 1745 – 5 March 1827) was an Italian physicist, chemist and lay List of lay Catholic scientists, Catholic who was a pioneer of electricity and Power (physics), power who is credite ...
, and
Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, ...
built upon Newtonian mechanics by exploring
electromagnetism In physics, electromagnetism is an interaction that occurs between particles with electric charge. It is the second-strongest of the four fundamental interactions, after the strong force, and it is the dominant force in the interactions of a ...
, or the interplay of forces with positive and negative charges on electrically charged particles. Faraday proposed that forces in nature operated in " fields" that filled space. The idea of fields contrasted with the Newtonian construct of gravitation as simply "action at a distance", or the attraction of objects with nothing in the space between them to intervene.
James Clerk Maxwell James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematician and scientist responsible for the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, which was the first theory to describe electricity, magnetism and light ...
in the 19th century unified these discoveries in a coherent theory of electrodynamics. Using mathematical equations and experimentation, Maxwell discovered that space was filled with charged particles that could act upon themselves and each other and that they were a medium for the transmission of charged waves. Significant advances in chemistry also took place during the scientific revolution.
Antoine Lavoisier Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ( , ; ; 26 August 17438 May 1794), When reduced without charcoal, it gave off an air which supported respiration and combustion in an enhanced way. He concluded that this was just a pure form of common air and th ...
, a French chemist, refuted the
phlogiston theory The phlogiston theory is a Superseded scientific theories, superseded scientific theory that postulated the existence of a fire-like Chemical element, element called phlogiston () contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion. ...
, which posited that things burned by releasing "phlogiston" into the air.
Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley (; 24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher, English Separatist, separatist theologian, Linguist, grammarian, multi-subject educator, and Liberalism, liberal Politi ...
had discovered
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element with the chemical symbol, symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen Group (periodic table), group in the periodic table, a highly Chemical reaction, reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing a ...
in the 18th century, but Lavoisier discovered that
combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combusti ...
was the result of
oxidation Redox (reduction–oxidation, , ) is a type of chemical reaction in which the oxidation states of substrate (chemistry), substrate change. Oxidation is the loss of Electron, electrons or an increase in the oxidation state, while reduction ...
. He also constructed a table of 33 elements and invented modern chemical nomenclature. Formal biological science remained in its infancy in the 18th century, when the focus lay upon the classification and categorization of natural life. This growth in natural history was led by
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement in 1761 as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalise ...
, whose 1735
taxonomy Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization or classification (general theory), classification. A taxonomy (or taxonomical classification) is a scheme of classification, especially a hierarchical classification, in which things are ...
of the natural world is still in use. Linnaeus in the 1750s introduced
scientific names In Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy, binomial nomenclature ("two-term naming system"), also called nomenclature ("two-name naming system") or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name compos ...
for all his species.


19th-century developments (1800–1900)

By the 19th century, the study of science had come into the purview of professionals and institutions. In so doing, it gradually acquired the more modern name of ''natural science.'' The term ''scientist'' was coined by
William Whewell William Whewell ( ; 24 May 17946 March 1866) was an English people, English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and History of science, historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In his time ...
in an 1834 review of Mary Somerville's ''On the Connexion of the Sciences''. But the word did not enter general use until nearly the end of the same century.


Modern natural science (1900–present)

According to a famous 1923 textbook, ''Thermodynamics and the Free Energy of Chemical Substances'', by the American chemist Gilbert N. Lewis and the American physical chemist Merle Randall, the natural sciences contain three great branches:
Aside from the logical and mathematical sciences, there are three great branches of ''natural science'' which stand apart by reason of the variety of far reaching deductions drawn from a small number of primary postulates — they are
mechanics Mechanics (from Ancient Greek: wikt:μηχανική#Ancient_Greek, μηχανική, ''mēkhanikḗ'', "of machine, machines") is the area of mathematics and physics concerned with the relationships between force, matter, and motion among Ph ...
, electrodynamics, and
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these quantities is governed b ...
.
Today, natural sciences are more commonly divided into life sciences, such as botany and zoology; and physical sciences, which include physics, chemistry, astronomy, and Earth sciences.


See also

*
Empiricism In philosophy, empiricism is an Epistemology, epistemological theory that holds that knowledge or justification comes only or primarily from Empirical evidence, sensory experience. It is one of several views within epistemology, along with ra ...
*
Branches of science The branches of science, also referred to as sciences, scientific fields or scientific disciplines, are commonly divided into three major groups: * Formal sciences: the study of formal systems, such as those under the branches of logic and ...
* List of academic disciplines and sub-disciplines * Natural Sciences (Cambridge), for the
Tripos At the University of Cambridge, a Tripos (, plural 'Triposes') is any of the examinations that qualify an undergraduate for a bachelor's degree or the courses taken by a student to prepare for these. For example, an undergraduate studying mathe ...
at the University of Cambridge


References


Bibliography

* * * * * *


Further reading


Defining Natural Sciences
Ledoux, S. F., 2002: Defining Natural Sciences, ''Behaviorology Today'', 5(1), 34–36. *
The History of Recent Science and Technology

Natural Sciences
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Reviews of Books About Natural Science
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Scientific Grant Awards Database
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E!Science
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