Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Misconception about the Scientific Method

There are a lot of misconceptions about the scientific method that scientists have to go through in order to conduct an experiment. Contrary to popular belief there is a lot of creativity and thought that goes into the construction of each experiment.  There is a general outline that most scientists follow in order to make sure all experiments have the necessary parts and will effectively showcase the information in a translatable way.  However, every experiment is special in what it is trying to discover, test, or prove so every experiment must be designed differently because it is testing something different.  Because of this every experiment must be carefully and creatively crafted in order to be effectively executed.
The scientific method is an outline for a scientist's to follow to help them construct an effective experiment. All experiments will start by asking a question, and that is the first step to the scientific method; ask a question.  This is important because unanswered questions are the locomotive of science, it is what pushes us to discover and experiment. Once a question has been asked it is important to do background research on the question being ask. This is because in order to craft a hypothesis for the experiment there must be some knowledge to base the hypothesis on. Through a hypothesis a scientist can explain what they expect to find when conducting the experiment, the nice part is that not matter the outcome of the experiment it does not matter whether the hypothesis was correct or not. This is why two scientists working on the same experiment together can hypothesize two different outcomes. It is often more interesting when the hypothesis is wrong because that is what leads scientists to ask more questions like; Why did I get this result? This is the beginning steps to constructing an experiment which is crucial even though the actual experiment has not even started. It takes critical thinking to come up with a question to answer especially one that has not already been done, and quite difficult to form a hypothesis for the question when in reality the scientist most likely is not sure what is going to happen.
The next portion of the scientific method is where the real fun and creativity comes into play. Designing an experiment that will actually achieve what you are trying to test for can be quite tricky, especially if you are not positive of the outcome. Every experiment is different and there are multiple ways to run an experiment and achieve the same result. This is why scientist are allowed to get creative and think outside the box. Harvard recently conducted an experiment about the E. Coli virus on a huge scale. They constructed a mega petri dish and observed the bacteria E. Coli’s ability to become drug resistant and reproduce on a massive scale. They made a time-lapse of the bacteria’s growth and it was quite incredible to see. This is just one example of a scientific experiment that had already been conducted by someone but Harvard scientists took it a step further and conducted an experiment of their own that was so incredible to see. Another big topic in the science community is CRISPR. CRISPR has been the basis of multiple experiments around the World because of its ability to make specific changes to DNA. There have been experiments conducted where human organs can be grown in an animal and can grow to the point of being able to be transplanted into humans. The first human trials with CRISPR started in late October of 2016. The first ever genetically modified cells were injected into a patient with aggressive Lung Cancer. Many experiments were conducted on CRISPR to test its ability to modify DNA and make sure it truly was effective before clinical trials could begin. These are just two examples of truly incredible experiments that are driving the science community forward and require a great deal of creativity and critical thinking.
Following the conclusion of the experiment conducted, the most important part of the scientific method comes into play. The scientist must analyze the data that was collected and draw conclusions. This is critical to a scientific experiment because the whole point of running an experiment is to come to a conclusion and share it with other so it can either answer their questions or even prompt them to draw up more questions based on the results. If oncologist Lu You from Sichuan University in Chengdu had not shared his findings on CRISPR, then he may not be conducting clinical trials right now. It was with the help of other scientists and the scientific community that he was able to move forward with his findings so quickly.
Although many people believe the scientific method makes science a boring robot like job, this is not the case at all. The scientific method is just an outline that helps scientists present their findings in a neat, easily shared manner. Scientists are constantly pushing boundaries and finding revolutionary results that constantly change our lives.Never following the same procedure but thinking outside the box to better understand and interpret data. If CRISPR clinical trials achieve what is expected of them this could be a very different world in a few years. But that is the beauty of science, you never quite know what you are going to get.
Work Cited:
Baker, Monya. "1,500 Scientists Lift the Lid on Reproducibility." Nature.com. Macmillan Publishers, 25 May 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
"CRISPR: A Game-changing Genetic Engineering Technique - Science in the News."Science in the News. N.p., 31 July 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
Cyranoski, David. "CRISPR Gene-editing Tested in a Person for the First Time."Nature.com. Macmillan Publishers, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
@harvard. "A Cinematic Approach to Drug Resistance." Harvard Gazette. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
"How Science Goes Wrong." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

"Steps of the Scientific Method." Science Buddies. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.