Science is a mode of inquiry above all else, based on the scientific method. The scientific method is a term referring to the basic principles that guide scientific research and experimentation and also the philosophic bases of those principles. The scientific method involves a series of steps beginning with a conjecture or theory about the physical world, and then proceeding to falsifying or corroborating that conjecture on the basis of empirical testing. There are four basic steps to the scientific method. First is the observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena. Second is the formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena observed. Third is the use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations. Fourth is the performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and using properly performed experiments. If the experiments support the hypothesis, it may come to be regarded as a theory or law of nature. If the experiments do not bear out the hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or modified, which creates a new hypothesis that then has to be tested using the same methods. Science is a public effort, and results are published so they can be replicated by others, a means of further testing each hypothesis (Rheingold and Levine 16-18).
Science can be classified according to the underlying philosophies supporting it. Aristotle described science in terms of the need to answer four questions to develop a scientific explanation--what is it, what is it made of, who or what made it, and what is its purpose? The answers were called the four causes--formal, material, efficient, and final)(Cardwell 486).
More recently, two schools of thought have dominated science, the first the hypothetico-deductive system showing that scientific theories are falsifiable; and the sec