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Science (from Latin 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 the works of Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians, whose contributions entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek science deteriorated in Western Europe during the Middle Ages but flourished in the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek and Islamic science into Western Europe during the 10th to 13th century preceded the revival of natural philosophy in the West, which continued to develop as the precursor of natural science from the Renaissance through the 19th century. Since the 17th century, scientific knowledge gradually became associated with the scientific method and was increasingly being formulated in terms of physical laws. Particularly in the 19th century, multiple distinguishing characteristics of contemporary science began to emerge.

Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economics), which study individuals and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g. mathematics, logic, 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 science, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

Science is related to research and is commonly organized by academic and research institutions as well as 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.

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Carbon nanotube
Nanotechnology comprises technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 1 to 100 nm (1/1,000 µm, or 1/1,000,000 mm). A possible way to interpret this size is to take the width of a human hair, and imagine something ten thousand times smaller. The term has sometimes been applied to microscopic technology.

Nanotechnology is any technology which exploits phenomena and structures that can only occur at the nanometer scale, which is the scale of several atoms and small molecules. The United States's National Nanotechnology Initiative website defines nanotechnology as "the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications."

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The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-82.
Credit: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a telescope in orbit around the Earth, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble for his discovery of galaxies outside the Milky Way and his creation of Hubble's Law, which calculates the rate at which the universe is expanding. Its position outside the Earth's atmosphere allows it to take sharp optical images of very faint objects, and since its launch in 1990, it has become one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy. It has been responsible for many ground-breaking observations and has helped astronomers achieve a better understanding of many fundamental problems in astrophysics. Hubble's Ultra Deep Field is the deepest (most sensitive) astronomical optical image ever taken.

Selected biography

Richard Phillips Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was one of the most influential American physicists of the 20th century, expanding greatly upon the theory of quantum electrodynamics. As well as being an inspiring lecturer and amateur musician, also later he became a member of the panel which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. For his work on quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, along with Julian Schwinger and Shin-Ichiro Tomonaga.

Feynman was a keen and influential popularizer of physics in both his books and lectures. He is famous for his many adventures, detailed in the books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, What Do You Care What Other People Think? and Tuva or Bust!. Posthumously, Feynman is often credited with helping catalyze the field of nanotechnology through his December 1959 talk called There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom. Richard Feynman was, in many respects, an eccentric and a free spirit.

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