• Question: How is science used in peoples every-day lives?

    Asked by Kristein to Jonathan, Kevin, Melissa on 5 May 2016.
    • Photo: Jonathan Jackson

      Jonathan Jackson answered on 5 May 2016:

      There are lots of ways to answer this question, and I’m so glad you asked it!

      Have you ever used a computer, or an iPad, or a cell phone? How about ridden around in a car, or on a bike? Have you ever eaten food cooked on a stove? Lots of science went into making those products! We have to know a lot about physics, human biology, chemistry, psychology, evolution, and much more just to make any one of those products work!

      But science isn’t just about making cool gadgets and hot food. Science isn’t any one thing – it’s a process! Science is the ability to answer our questions about the world in a thoughtful and refined way. If you have ever asked a question, thought about it, and gotten an answer, that’s one way of doing research, and is a kind of science! Although the five of us are professional scientists, everyone can do science! In fact, you probably do a kind of science every day without knowing it!

      Have you ever made a bet with your friends? Like who can run the farthest? You have to do science to find out the answer. Think about it. You have to decide who’s going to run in the race, how far you’re going to run, who’s going to declare the winner, and what the rules are! Those are called “parameters,” and it’s the cornerstone of every science experiment. If I were to jump in my car and drive to the finish line, that wouldn’t be fair, right? Because one of the parameters is that people have to run. And it’s not like someone can stop halfway through the race, because you’ve all agreed how far you’re going to run. That’s an issue of what we call “measurement,” and is another really important part of science. And then, if one of you said she felt really tired and wanted to try the race again next week, that’s what we call “reproducibility,” which is where we see if we can get the same result under slightly different circumstances.

      All of this is science, and I bet you’ve done something just like this lots of times without knowing it. You see, science is something we use every day of our lives!

    • Photo: Melissa Wilson Sayres

      Melissa Wilson Sayres answered on 5 May 2016:

      To add to what Jonathan wrote about, science is also used extensively in medicine, in a variety of ways:

      1) DNA analysis is used in personalized medicine to try to find the correct medicine with the fewest side-effects.

      2) Basic science research uses cell lines to understand the mechanisms of different medications, and to understand how human cell lines will respond to different medications.

      3) Animal models can be used to infer the efficacy of drugs before they go to human trials. Now we’re even able to use 3-D printed organs to do similar analyses (give-or-take – they’re not fully functioning, but they’re printed on a scaffold that gives us a much better idea of how they’d work if they were in a human body).

      4) Natural selection has shaped features in other animals that we want to borrow from! The peptide from the Gila monster venom is being used to treat Type-II diabetes, anole lizard tails are being used to study regeneration, and many other wonderful examples.