What is more important? Theory or practical experimentation?

During our student life, or generally speaking, while we are studying in school, we come across the terms theory and practical. Theory of this, theory of that, experiment of this, experiment of that (experiments are what?).

Sometimes, we feel frustrated as students that we have to study all this stuff and we ask why was this theory developed or why is this experiment in our syllabus and why do we have to do it?

Can we study without practicals (experiments) or without learning about the various theories?

In short, it boils down to the question: what is more important? If given a choice, can we choose one and discard the other?

The short answer is: no.

Think yourself why you need to learn both theories and experiments/practicals of some subjects or concepts?

Why theories are important:

Science works both on the foundation of theories and experiments. Look more in the scientific method. Sometimes, we observe something and form a theory or assumption to explain it. Great scientists often come up with mathematical proof to support their theory. Then the theory gives out some natural predictions that other scientists can pick up on and perform experiments on. These experiments can either validate the theory or invalidate it as a false one.

Why experiments are important:

Another way is we perform careful, controlled experiments to see what happens with some different combination of variables. This can sometimes lead to some new discoveries that are not explained by current theories. Then based on this, some scientists can devise new theories to explain the new discoveries and they, in turn, give new predictions.

The cycle of science goes on.

A famous example is Newton’s discovery of the law of gravitation. But at its core, it was a theory that thousands of experiments validated later.

And another one is Rutherford’s alpha scattering experiment that gave us the nuclear model of atoms.

This is why the theory part and the experimental part (practical) of science are equally important.

Stay curious.

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1 Response

  1. November 24, 2016

    […] What is more important? Theory or practical experimentation? […]

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