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All of science as we know it today evolved from the great questions of philosophy: (1) Of what is the universe made? (2) How does the world around us work? (3) What is life? (4) Is there knowledge that we can acquire independently of the external world? and so on. Chemistry originated in a effort to answer (1); Physics sought to answer (2); Biology sought to answer (3); Mathematics (not the arithmetic used to measure land and assess taxes) sought to answer (4).

All online courses will be organized conceptually rather than conventionally. The research of Langer at Harvard will be instrumental in developing this organization. Each course will ask fundamental questions that motivate the entirety of the course. The emphasis will be on understanding and reasoning rather than memorizing; imagination, experimentation and questioning of the ideas will be the chief classroom activity.

Every science has a language used to discuss the ideas of the science, just as we do in tennis. The language of science must be very precise and is peculiar to each area of science. It is essential to have a basic grasp of the language of each science in order to explore its ideas and concepts. Therefore, before we can have a discussion of the concepts of a science, we must first have a discussion about the language it uses to present its ideas and results.

Every science has at least three structural elements that are key to understanding its ideas and results: (1) Every science has a language with a set of definitions and concepts; (2) Every science has set of principles (which are the simplest concepts that are considered self-evident, or sufficiently demonstrated by experiment that no further discussions is needed); (3) every science has a set of methodologies used to explore possibilities or to conduct experiments or to arrive at conclusions.

Every science begins with the simplest possible concepts and proceeds to develop more complex concepts by adding small ideas or concepts to those that have already been defined or explained. The process of introducing new concepts by incrementally increasing the complexity of known concepts is essential to assure that science does not make a mistake along the way. Essentially, small steps are taken at each stage to provide the maximum certainty and correctness in moving from simple concepts to more complex concepts. This process assures that we can trace our steps backward and find errors if they have been introduced; this process allows others to follow our steps in a logical manner and reproduce our steps in order to verify that we have truly arrived at new knowledge or insights.

A key feature of every science that distinguishes it from other human enterprises such as history, literature, law or any enterprise that seeks to produce useful knowledge are its standards of evidence. The standards of evidence in sciences exceeds that of any other enterprise and requires painstaking, objectively measurable proof of each conclusion, theorem, or fact that is beyond the realm of human question.

The principle of reproducibility is essential to science and distinguishes it from the arts. If a claim is made, other scientists must be able to follow the steps taken by those making the claim and obtain exactly the same result. Reproducibility of a result is metaphorically synonymous with verifiability and acceptability of the results by the scientific community at large. In this respect, science is essentially social in nature.

Of all the characteristics of science, the power of prediction stands out as the most important for, and the most significant for the improvement of the human condition. Chief among these improvements that science seeks to make to the human condition are the conquest of disease and the environment, and an understanding ourselves in order to assure the continuation of our species.

In summary, science seeks to develop useful and actionable knowledge that: (1) rests on exacting standards of evidence; (2) requires the use of the principle of reproducibility; and (3) has the power of prediction. Science ArtHistory and Literature