Man's physical universe



Observation Involves Both Analysis and Synthesis.

One has not really observed a building until he has taken it apart

(analysis) so that he can see and measure each individual part. On the

other hand, one has not really seen a building until it is constructed,

even though he may have seen each individual part and has studied the

architectural drawings. A watch cannot be observed adequately when

taken apart; it must be running in order to permit the most meaningful

observations. Putting things together is what is meant by synthesis.

Thus analysis breaks things down so that each part can be observed.

whereas synthesis puts things together so that the behavior of combinations

of things can be observed. As a rule analysis precedes Synthesis.

New Instruments Make New Observations Possible.

The invention of new instruments is one of the most important contributions

to the advancement of knowledge. Thousands of instruments

have been invented to enable man to make more exact and more

accurate observations: for example, the modern automobile mechanic

uses gas analyzers to enable him to make better carburetor adjustments;

the criminologist uses polygraphs to detect lies; physicists use

cyclotrons to study changes in the nuclei of atoms; and the modern

electron microscope extends the range of the study of micro-organisms

still further.

Measurement Is the Master Art.

In obtaining data, the scientist must describe objects or phenomena

as accurately as possible; and in nearly every case, such a description

involves quantitative measurements, which must be expressed mathematically.

Measurements of high precision are prerequisite to the mass production

of modern machines with their interchangeable parts. Measurement

is not only essential to the best architecture, sculpture, painting,

or music, but it is the foundation of the exact knowledge which is

known as Science.

The modern theory of measurement is based on the assumption that

nearly all physical phenomena may be measured in terms of length,

mass, and time.^

Units of measurement, i.e.,


standards for comparison, are of great

It would be interesting to study the gradual evolution of

such units as the fathom, the pace, the cubit, the foot, the span, the

acre, the bushel, the quart, the gallon, the pound, and the ton. Everyone

who has spent so much of his time in school learning the units in

' The units of time are discussed in Unit 2, Section 9.

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