3.8 - Models in Science

In this site, the words science , scientist , and scientific added together appear only a total of 80 times. On the other hand the word fractal appears 160 times, and the word model a whopping 250 times. Apparently the word "model'' is of key importance when we do science.

In Unit 1 we read "Now we use a computer to draw the model of a coastline and to measure the dimension of that model, and you created a model of a fractal coastline using a rubber band, thumb tacks, and a die (or a rope, a die, and a coin). In Unit 2 (this unit) we have used a simple, one-dimensional random walk model to understand random motion in general. As we progress through the site we will encounter the word again and again:

This is only a sampling of what appears throughout this site. Similar examples exist in every unit. Generally speaking, the purpose of a model is to simplify reality so that reality can be analyzed. If a model is only partially successful in predicting behavior, we attempt to modify the model and improve its assumptions so that its predictions will be more accurate. This process tends to generate models that are increasingly complex, models that provide further challenge to scientific investigation.


Previous: SimuLab 12 - The Deer Program and Population Dynamics

Next: 3.9 - What Do You Think?