place
people tools ideas live about
index
cern
hubble
antarctica
cold spring
arecibo
CERN:
Matter
Hubble:
Universe
Antarctica:
Extremes
Las Cuevas:
Biodiversity
Cold Spring:
DNA
Arecibo:
Astrobiology

In science, certainty is elusive: What’s accepted as fact is often reshaped or even displaced by new evidence that leads to new theories. It’s common practice for scientists to challenge each other’s research and interpretations of it—a process known as "peer review." Ultimately, this process serves to validate or invalidate the research and the conclusions drawn from it.

While there are debates among them, scientists in every field contribute to a body of collective knowledge. Often, people in different scientific disciplines ask the same questions in different ways. Their answers combine perspectives and give us greater overall knowledge. For example, physicists at CERN and astronomers at the Hubble Space Telescope are both studying the origins of the universe. Hubble allows astronomers to look at the very vast nature of the universe, with images of light from shortly after the
Big Bang. These pictures help them think about the age of the universe and how it came into being. Meanwhile, experiments at CERN probe descriptions of the Big Bang from a physics point of view, investigating the nature of the smallest of particles in the search to understand how they were created. Together, the two fields create a broader picture of how the universe came into being.

The same is true in the world of biology. For hundreds of years, evolutionary biologists have used visible characteristics of living things as clues to how species have changed and diverged through evolution. With
Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA and other researcher’s inventions of ways to decode it, biologists can compare the genomes of organisms and better understand how and where species have branched on the tree of life. Scientists can even glean information about how life might arise on other planets by studying the unique adaptations of bacteria and other organisms that live in extreme conditions such as the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

The global process of science is a cumulative one; each discovery, no matter what field it is in, informs many others. Progress comes from researchers building on work done before them. With each new answer, it seems, new questions arise. And with them come new scientists who will pursue new knowledge and theories, and inevitably toss out some of the old.

 
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