SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS
CHAPTER 3: SCIENCE, SYSTEMS, MATTER, AND ENERGY

Objectives

  1. List four typical inappropriate characterizations of science. Point out the inaccuracies of the claims. Briefly describe the types of questions science tries to answer and the process used to approach answers or solutions. Distinguish among scientific hypotheses, theories, and laws. Compare and contrast inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.
  2. Distinguish between frontier science and consensus science; accuracy and precision; science and technology. Describe the implications of increased accuracy and precision on environmental policy.
  3. Define model. Distinguish among mental models, conceptual models, graphic models, physical models, and mathematical models. Describe the significance of models, and the process for creating and testing models.
  4. Draw a simple, generalized system. Include accumulations, flows, and feedback loops. Distinguish between positive and negative feedback loops. Give examples of each.
  5. Explain how negative feedback loops and positive feedback loops can be coupled to maintain stability. Define homeostasis. Describe a tragedy of the commons in terms of feedback loops. Describe one fruitful way to avert a tragedy of the commons.
  6. Given that the environment is a complex system, effects of changes in the system are often delayed. Describe how this characteristic creates difficulties for human policy makers.
  7. Distinguish between high-quality matter and low-quality matter. Relate the concept of entropy to the quality of matter.
  8. Describe how the law of conservation of matter governs normal physical and chemical changes. Explain the phrase: "There is no away."
  9. Describe why the law of conservation of matter and energy is necessary to govern nuclear changes. Distinguish among gamma rays, alpha particles, beta particles; nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
  10. Define energy. Distinguish between kinetic and potential energy; ionizing and non-ionizing radiation; high-quality energy and low-quality energy.
  11. Summarize the first and second laws of energy and give one example to illustrate each. Describe the implications of the law of conservation of matter and the second law of energy for high-waste, matter-recycling, and low-waste societies.

Key Terms (Terms are listed in the same font style as they appear in the text.)

atom

biodegradable pollutant

calorie

chemical

chlorinated hydrocarbon

chlorofluorocarbons

closed system

compound

concentration

consensus science

deductive reasoning

electromagnetic radiation

energy

energy quality

first law of thermodynamics

frontier science

high quality energy

high quality matter

hydrocarbon

inductive reasoning

input

kilocalorie

kinetic energy

law of conservation of matter

low quality energy

low quality matter

material efficiency

metabolism

negative feedback loop

nondegradable pollutant

nuclear fission

nuclear fusion

open system

output

persistence

positive feedback loop

potential energy

radioactivity

second law of thermodynamics