Main Topics, Unit 1
Unit 1: Science!
- is a human activity—it isn’t Truth, but it works;
- is the best way we have to answer many questions (How does something work? How can we use that information to cure disease or find clean water or otherwise help us?);
- cannot answer many questions (What should we do? Why are we here?).
- Get a new idea (hypothesis) from somewhere (genius?).
- See if new idea beats old idea in predicting what will happen (experiment).
- If yes (after many tests), use the new idea; if no, still use old one.
- Repeat—there’s always more to learn.
- Ideas that work better may be True, Close, or Lucky, so science never sure.
- Science can prove ideas wrong, but cannot prove them correct.
- But, if we act as if science finds truth, we succeed in doing many things...
- IF we follow scientific method.
Why National Parks?
- US idea, Yellowstone first (1870).
- Take a quick visit to Yellowstone, and imagine it as a power plant or cola ad.
- Problem: parks for “conservation unimpaired for future generations” but “enjoyment” for this generation.
- Doing both is not easy.
- Find valuable things (oil, water, gems).
- Avoid hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides).
- Learn how Earth works to keep it and us happy and healthy.
- Have fun (Why are the parks so pretty? What were dinosaurs like?).
Some Geological Background
- We WILL cover evidence during semester, but we have to start somewhere.
- Earth 4.6 billion years old, pieces from space fell together under gravity.
- Heated as it formed (natural radioactivity, and the heat from stopping those falling pieces—think of hot-brake smell after stopping a truck on a steep hill).
- Heating melted Earth and allowed it to separate into layers (think of car-bottom clump on a snowy day—ice and rocks and dead-squirrel parts all lumped together, but separate when they melt in garage).
- Layers are: iron-rich core, iron-silica mantle, more-silica/less-iron crust (refer to Chemistry Sidebar in text if this seems unfamiliar).