Historical Geology 102
Introduction to Lab

Science is information . . . it speaks to the mind.
John Ziman, What is Science? 1968

What is a lab?

Lab is short for laboratory - a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation or practice in a field of study.
This lab time is for practical experience.
You are here to learn.
You will be tested on your knowledge and skill.

Working on Lab Assignments

Do your own work.
You may work in groups or alone but you alone are responsible for knowing the material.
I've seen students fail the lab because they let someone else do the work.


Observation and experimentation are the keys to science
Why make observations or conduct experiments? To answer questions; to gain understanding and knowledge.
The Scientific Method is a system used in science to answer questions
8 steps

Definition of the Problem - Step 1

Does a problem exist?
Investigator's observations.

Literature Search - Step 2

Search of published materials: has the question been answered?
Sources of information:
Experts in the field:

Hypothesis - Step 3

If no answer has been found...
Hypothesis is proposed.
Possible answer to the problem based on the available information
Analysis of the collected data

Experimentation and/or Observation - Step 4

Experiments are set up and run based on the problem and hypothesis
Additional observations are made
Analysis of the collected data

Conceptualization of a Model - Step 5

Theory: A hypothesis that has been substantiated by experimentation and observation
Model: a representation of reality, generally a simplification
Additionally, theories will make predictions

Revision of Theory - Step 6

Testing of the theory’s predictions.
This additional data will:
1. Show that the theory is:
2. Show that the theory is:
3. Show that the theory is:

Publication of the Results - Step 7

Reporting of the experimentation, observations and theory.
Results must be honest and unbiased.

Verification by Other Investigators - Step 8

Do others observe the same thing?
Can the experiments be reproduced?
Do others reach the same conclusions?
If yes, theory may become well accepted
If no, new theories may be needed to explain original problem

Science and Religion


What is science?
Knowledge based on observation and experimentation, and the collection and analysis of data.


What is technology?
The application of science.

Science is based on data.
Science is not the search for the ultimate truth.
Science is not a belief.
Science is not a religion.


What is the basis of religion?

What is faith?


This course is about science and is based on reproducible observational and experimental data and evidence.