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Scientific knowledge used in practical applications

Science (from the Latin word scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

The earliest roots of science can be traced to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in around 3500 to 3000 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to provide explanations of events in the physical world based on natural causes. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek conceptions of the world deteriorated in Western Europe during the early centuries (400 to 1000 CE) of the Middle Ages, but was preserved in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek works and Islamic inquiries into Western Europe from the 10th to 13th century revived "natural philosophy", which was later transformed by the Scientific Revolution that began in the 16th century as new ideas and discoveries departed from previous Greek conceptions and traditions. The scientific method soon played a greater role in knowledge creation and it was not until the 19th century that many of the institutional and professional features of science began to take shape; along with the changing of "natural philosophy" to "natural science."

Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, and physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g., economics, psychology, and sociology), which study individuals and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g., logic, mathematics, and theoretical computer science), which study abstract concepts. There is disagreement, however, on whether the formal sciences actually constitute a science as they do not rely on empirical evidence. Disciplines that use existing scientific knowledge for practical purposes, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

Science is based on research, which is commonly conducted in academic and research institutions, as well as in government agencies and companies. The practical impact of scientific research has led to the emergence of science policies that seek to influence the scientific enterprise by prioritizing the development of commercial products, armaments, health care, and environmental protection. (Full article...)

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Schematic of a railgun.
Credit: DrBob

A railgun is a form of gun that converts electrical energy—rather than the more conventional chemical energy from an explosive propellant—into projectile kinetic energy. It is not to be confused with a coilgun (Gauss gun). The term railgun is also used for conventional firearms used in the Unlimited class of benchrest shooting.

A Railgun is a type of Magnetic Accelerator Gun (MAG) that utilizes an electromagnetic force to propel an electrically conductive projectile that is initially part of the current path. Sometimes they also use a movable armature connecting the rails. The current flowing through the rails sets up a magnetic field between them and through the projectile perpendicularly to the current in it. This results in the rails and the projectile pushing each other and in the acceleration of the projectile along the rails.

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Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (May 1, 1852 – October 17, 1934) was a famous Spanish histologist, physician, and Nobel laureate, and is considered to be one of the founders of modern neuroscience. His most famous studies were on the fine structure of the central nervous system. Cajal used a histological staining technique developed by his contemporary, Camillo Golgi, allowing him to resolve, in detail, the structure of individual neurons. This led him to conclude that nervous tissue was a continuous reticulum (or web) of interconnected cells, much like those in the circulatory system. Using Golgi's method, Ramón y Cajal reached a very different conclusion; he postulated that the nervous system is made up of billions of separate neurons and that these cells are polarized. Rather than forming a continuous web, Cajal suggested that neurons communicate with each other via specialized junctions called "synapses". This hypothesis became the basis of the neuron doctrine, which states that the individual unit of the nervous system is a single neuron. Electron microscopy later showed that a plasma membrane completely enclosed each neuron, supporting Cajal's theory, and weakening Golgi's reticular theory.

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by Jon Lomberg

Science News

30 December 2020 – 2020 in paleontology
Scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences announce the discovery of a "well-preserved" woolly rhinoceros carcass in Abyysky District, Sakha, Russia, which was revealed by melting permafrost in August. The Russian Academy of Sciences says that the woolly rhinoceros was likely 3 or 4 years old when it died by drowning in the river, and could be anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 years old. (ABC News)
18 December 2020 –
A review of some recent medical studies shows that memory T cells may play a role in a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity, which researchers found may perhaps give certain people, in some cases, some level of immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 even without them having been exposed to or infected with the virus, or having received a vaccine. There are certain structural and clinical similarities between the virus that causes COVID-19 and the other coronaviruses that are related to it, which cause SARS and MERS. (MSN)
16 December 2020 – Chinese space program
China National Space Administration (CNSA) spacecraft Chang'e 5 returns to Earth carrying samples of lunar rocks and soil from the surface of the Moon. The capsule will be airlifted to Beijing for formal opening and the samples will be made available to scientists in other countries, according to the CNSA. (The Guardian)
6 December 2020 – Uncrewed spaceflights to the International Space Station
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches a cargo ship into orbit to re-supply the International Space Station. (CBS News)
1 December 2020 – 2020 SO
Unknown astronomical object 2020 SO makes its closest approach to Earth at a perigee distance of approximately 0.13 lunar distances (50,000 km; 31,000 mi). Researchers, who discovered 2020 SO on September 17, 2020, are still unsure whether the object is a small near-Earth asteroid or an artificial object. The booster of Surveyor 2's Atlas-Centaur rocket, launched by NASA in 1966, is suspected by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (CNET)
28 November 2020 – Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists
Assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

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