Doing Science Kevin Hogan
Allen Olson



Study guides


Student services


Week 3

Change over time is the theme for this week. What leads scientists to change their theories? We will look at historical episodes from the geocentric universe to plate tectonics. And, of course, change over time is a central concept in the theory of evolution.

One of the ways scientists investigate change over time is by creating models on computers to simulate conditions. These models are called dynamic models, and we will be introduced to some dynamic modeling software this week, if we have time

Continuing our introduction to statistical methods, we will learn about normal and binomial distributions.

Also, as part of an Evening and Weekend Studies tradition, we will take part in the Liberal Arts Forum. The topic this quarter is ethics.


CGS = Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith
= Understanding Scientific Reasoning by Ronald Giere (4th edition)
GC = Galileo's Commandment edited by Edmund Bolles

Before coming to class, you should have completed the following readings:

CGS: chapters 4-5; skim the last half of chapter 4 as noted in the study guide
USR: chapter 3
GC: Galileo Galilei (pp. 97-104)
      Johannes Kepler (pp. 245-249)
      Galileo Galilei (pp. 167-176)
      Voltaire (pp. 250-256)
      Herbert Butterfield (pp. 53-62)
      William Bateson (pp. 267-273)
      Alfred Wegener (pp. 198-205)

In addition, you should have completed the following exercises:


  • Exercise 3.7: Childbed Fever
  • Exercise 3.9: Pasteur and Anthrax
  • Exercise 3.11: A Confirmation of Continental Drift
  • Exercise of your choice: Pick one of the remaining exercises that is of interest to you and analyze it.


  • All exercises in chapters four and five of the study guide.

And finally, remember that your first short paper is due this week.


  • Evolution lecture
  • Scientific reasoning seminar: Historical episodes
  • Statistical distributions
  • Liberal Arts Forum

Looking ahead:

In week 4, we will look at the fringes of science to try to determine what makes science unique and what qualifies as science. Bring an open mind, but be ready to think! We will also start looking at sampling methods, and we will do more complete investigations with dynamic models.