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Name: M. F.
Status: other
Grade: 6-8
Location: HI
Country: N/A
Date: 12/21/2005

How do scientists know answers to questions?

Answer: Scientists answer questions using observation and/or experimentation and/or reasoned thought.

Michael Loop, Ph.D

Anyone can be a scientist-it just involves careful observation of the natural world, and/or designing controlled experiments to test questions about those observations. Once a scientists has a question, he/she develops a hypothesis, or possible explanation, and sets up an experiment to test that hypothesis. It involves collecting and analyzing data and then determining whether the data support or reject the hypothesis. There are many factors that can cause an experiment to appear to be supported though, so usually many experiments must be done to rule out other possible explanations. If your idea is still standing when the other ideas have been ruled out, that lends more support to that hypothesis. Once a scientist feels that there is good support for an idea, the very most important part of the scientific process is sharing that knowledge with others. This allows other scientists to come up with their own ideas that you might not have thought of, or to repeat the experiment to see if they get the same answers. This also allows other questions to be asked and new experiments to be thought of. This process is known as peer review. If your idea is STILL the best explanation after it has been tested many different times and by many others, it may become the accepted "knowledge" about that idea. Scientists don't use the word "proof" very often because they know that new knowledge and technologies come along all the time and very often a better explanation comes along with them. So, scientific "knowledge" is always subject to revision over time.

Van Hoeck

That is a very good question. We find answers to questions by studying the thing we need an answer to and by doing experiments. We use the "scientific method" where we start with a question, make a study or experiment and try to predict what will happen, do the study or experiment, collect all our information, and finally we can hopefully find the answer to that question. Sometimes answers come quickly, and sometimes it takes years to figure out an answer.

Grace Fields

Hi M.F.!

I suppose you are considering the scientific people that answers to NEWTON. They are volunteering professionals that are specialists in a determined field. So usually they know the answers and like the task of answering questions and helping youngsters and other people around the world. Sometimes the questions can be tricky or very specialized in a specified limited field. Then they know well the sources to look for a correct answer within the level asked.

There are as NEWTON volunteers several different scientists so almost always one of then will be willing to answer the questions. Now if you are asking about the scientists that work doing research their goal is to study and hopefully find answers for questions about problems not yet solved.

Many of the NEWTON scientists are (or were) proficient in their research professional field.

Thanks for asking at NEWTON!

(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)


The answer is we do not know all the answers. Science is all about finding answers, and that is what we do best. Each scientist has his or her specialty in which they have extensive knowledge. For other questions we are not sure of, we ask someone who is an expert or we do research like anybody else, (libraries, encyclopedias, whatever we need)

The cool part about since is FINDING out the answers to questions we are interested in.

Thanks for asking.

Martha Croll

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