It is curious that, with the variety of types of sciences that we find today, a very specific stereotype is still very indented when it comes to the scientist. Just try googling “scientific”. What you find is very similar to this.
It seems that this is the most representative image of science, but it really does not do justice to the diversity of disciplines that we find today. Without going any further, this image is not the one that most represents me as a geologist and scientist that I am. Well no: not all the scientists you are going to meet will wear gowns and hold test tubes.
Do you want to know more about the variety of sciences we have today? Well, you have come to the right blog. Throughout a series of posts I will try to raise awareness about the diversity of sciences that exist and the importance of each one of them. It is not an easy task. I am not an expert in all subjects either and I am surely going to need help from several colleagues.
First of all, let’s talk without going into depth about the types of sciences that we find today. I must emphasize that there is no absolute truth in this, there are still doubts in the classification of various disciplines, and if there is something that characterizes science, it is that it can always be reviewed and questioned. Without further ado, I present a very useful classification to understand the different sciences that exist.
If we classify the sciences according to their objects of study, we find two major branches: empirical sciences and formal sciences.
The empirical sciences study objects that we can perceive with the senses, and that is why they are based on experimentation. In contrast, the objects that are studied in formal science are not perceived with the senses, and are based on deduction.
The empirical sciences
Within the empirical sciences there are two large groups: the natural sciences and the social sciences. The natural sciences study natural phenomena. That is where the science I dedicate myself to comes in: geology! Also biology, chemistry, astronomy and medicine among others. These sciences have contributed to understanding how the climate works, developing medicines, predicting earthquakes, finding resources, understanding other living beings with whom we live … In short, they have contributed knowledge that helps us connect with the world in which we live. On the other hand, the social sciences study human behavior. In this category are, for example, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and linguistics. At the age of 20 I will have had at least ten existential crises, and you? How many times have you wondered what you have come to do here? Who are you? Why do we talk how we talk? Who do you fit in with? Why are curse words so frowned upon (this question haunts me too many times)? All these sciences bring light to that abyss of doubts that assail us when we take to observing our species.
We move on to the other branch: formal sciences. These sciences study concepts and structures that are created with the mind, and that are very useful to analyze our reality. Within this branch are mathematics, logic, computing, … Thanks to these sciences we can measure distances and quantities, solve problems with ease (I know that many here roll their eyes when thinking about mathematics, but really that make our lives much easier than we think), and even make better decisions. Now all this may sound like castles in the air and it is normal: we have just started. But we will have time to speak in more depth about these sciences, and about the empirical ones.
All science matters
All the sciences are important, not only because each one of them pursues a task that affects the present and the future of our world. Great discoveries are also made by combining techniques and knowledge from different disciplines. Take a look, for example, at what Azahara Fernández said in an article on the future of Health Sciences, talking about the union between humanities and medicine.