7 junio, 2024

Importance of the relationship of experimental social sciences for the study of the universe

The relation of experimental sciences to the study of the universe It is based on the fact that through them the theories that try to explain it are corroborated. They do this by conducting carefully controlled trials: experiments.

An experiment consists of a test carried out under controlled conditions, through which a part of the universe is revealed in the form of a natural phenomenon.

Relevant quantities are measured and the results and observations are carefully recorded and subjected to strict analysis. Immediately the results are contrasted with the possible explanations of the phenomenon, called hypotheses, validating them or not. This is how the scientific method works.

The universe is vast, beyond imagination. It goes from the particles that make up the atomic nucleus to the unimaginable distances that separate galaxies.

How to study something that covers a scale of such breadth?

Humanity already knows a lot about the universe, both on the macroscopic and microscopic scales, although much more is still unknown.

Certainly, there are the laws that govern the movement of celestial bodies, it is known that hydrogen is the most abundant element, that the universe is expanding and that it probably originated in the Big Bang.

Astronomy deals with this large scale, studying the nature of celestial bodies and their interactions, through the light they emit and the way they move.

And on the microscopic scale, the structure of cells is known thanks to cell biology, and physics has scrutinized the interior of the atom, observing its particles.

Numerous experiments have led science to this point.

Experimental sciences and the universe

In order to understand the universe on a large scale, the electromagnetic radiation that reaches the Earth is studied; it is done using telescopes that analyze each part of the spectrum. And it’s not just about visible light.

In this way, a large amount of information has been obtained, but astronomy does not work alone, it uses other sciences to achieve its objective: physics, chemistry, biology, computing, material sciences, among other disciplines.

Thanks to the competition of these sciences, ships have been built, mostly unmanned, that carry out observations and experiments, controlled from the ground.

And in addition, computer simulations are carried out, evaluating models of the formation of star systems, the evolution of stars and galaxies, the origin of the universe and its final destination.

optics and chemistry

Perhaps in astronomy not many experiments are carried out, unlike physics, chemistry or biology, experimental sciences par excellence.

After all, approaching a celestial body, making direct observations, and taking samples for later analysis is not an easy task: the distances are enormous and the travel requirements are complicated.

But light is the fastest thing that exists, and it reaches Earth bringing information not only from the object that emitted it, but also from those it encountered in its path.

It can be said that optics is the first experimental science that contributed to expanding the size of the known universe, thanks to the optical telescope and microscope.

Both inventions date from the beginning of the 17th century and their designs have improved over time, as well as the materials and manufacturing techniques. For this reason, even today, both the optical telescope and the optical microscope continue to be essential allies in exploring the universe on a full scale.

The composition of the stars

Just stargazing says nothing about its chemical composition, but astronomers know that it mostly consists of light gases.

For example, the Sun is almost all hydrogen and a small part helium, although the proportions vary somewhat from star to star.

How do scientists know if they can’t take samples?

They know this through the electromagnetic radiation it emits, which contains almost every frequency in the spectrum. This radiation is fractionated and studied with different devices.

For example, by passing light through a triangular prism, it is broken up into various wavelengths, forming a colorful pattern, or spectrum. Thanks to this principle, a device called spectroscope.

Using the spectroscope, the chemists did many experiments that revealed a characteristic pattern for each substance and compound in the gaseous state and at high temperature, consisting of colored bands associated with their different energy levels.

The scientists then scrambled to compare these patterns to those found in starlight. As might be expected, the Sun was the first star whose light was analyzed spectroscopically, identifying hydrogen as its main component.

The origin and evolution of the universe

Knowing how the universe originated is another of humanity’s great goals. And here the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm becomes evident, because to find out, scientists experiment with the smallest particles of all.

By studying the nature of such particles, one can learn how they were created, right at the beginning of the universe.

With this objective, the Large Hadron Collider or LHC (Large Hadron Collider) for its acronym in English, the largest experiment carried out to date.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is the product of the joint effort of many disciplines. Its purpose is to understand the ultimate structure of matter, and with it the universe, which, after all, is made of matter and energy, two sides of a coin.

Hadrons are a certain type of particle with an internal structure, among which are protons and neutrons, components of the atomic nucleus. By colliding hadrons with each other, and also with other particles, scientists are able to study them through the tiny fragments left behind by the collision.

But first they must endow them with high speeds to ensure that they break up, which is why the LHC accelerates them in stages, following closed paths.

Scientists modify the way the collisions occur, repeating these experiments over and over again, sending particles racing through the LHC’s circuitry at high speed.

With this they try to recreate the conditions in which the particles were formed, brief moments after the Big Bang, the event that, according to most cosmologists, gave rise to the universe.


This is another fundamental tool for the study of the universe on a large and small scale. Since the objectives are not at hand, advances in computing have made it possible to build models of systems and study their evolution over time.

Likewise, thanks to computing, images can be adequately processed and the best results obtained from them.

For this reason, it can be ensured that, regardless of the scale, the complexity of the universe requires the competition and collaboration of various scientific disciplines, all of which owe their development to continuous experimentation.

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