As most scientists and academic professionals would argue, the blueprint for human life and existence lies in the deoxyribonucleic acid, known simply as the DNA (Williams, B. et al., n.d). Most people believe that the history of humanity lies solely in past and present evolutionary events. However, scientists argue that a closer examination of man’s genetic makeup provides more information regarding his evolution. Located in the nucleus of every cell in the human body, the DNA gives the man his unique characteristic, thus explains his evolution throughout history. The discovery of the DNA in the 19th century is considered as one of the most momentous biological discoveries of all time (Williams, B. et al., n.d). Understanding the structure and function of the DNA has impacted science and medicine, with the most remarkable impact being illustrated in the evolution of man. The discovery of the DNA has facilitated the identification of genes, which in turn allows scientists in understanding the nature of diseases. Sequentially, this has allowed better diagnosis of diseases, and the creation of drugs to treat these diseases, something that is regarded as a crucial element in the evolution of man.
This paper examines the historical science of DNA. The paper provides a critical analysis of how the historical science of the DNA portrays the crucial natures of science ideas while explaining the reasons why these ideas are significant. Conclusively, the paper explains the importance of educating students on the aspects of the nature of science from this historical approach.
Historical Science: DNA
Just like all other components of the history and philosophy of science, the science of the DNA comprises of an intricate history to explain how this science came about. In their article concerning the structure of the DNA, Williams et al. provide a brief history of the discovery of the DNA in science. The human DNA was discovered in the 19th century by the scientist, Freidrich Miescher in his quest for the awareness of cell chemistry (Williams, B. et al., n.d). Accordingly, Miescher discovered the existence of the nuclei in cells, thus prompting further research on the components of the human cells. The discovery of the nuclei suggested the transfer of traits between organisms, which, in turn, suggested the existence of DNA in the human cell. The years that preceded saw more scientists venture into the discovery of the DNA relying on their individual scientific hypothesis on the subject matter.
Various scientists performed experiments to gain more information on the issue. The most common experiments involved the observation of a stained human cell under the microscope for the discovery of the DNA in cells (Williams, B. et al., n.d). These experiments provided information and data that was used as evidence regarding the existence of DNA in the human cells. As mentioned before, more scientists ventured into the discovery of DNA with others focusing their scientific research studies on the verification of the non-existence of DNA in human cells (Williams, B. et al., n.d). Accordingly, each of these scientists depended on previous research studies in the formulation of their own, which in turn, led to the fortification of scientific information regarding DNA. Eventually, the scientists, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins managed to prove the existence of DNA in human cells, thus building on the concept of the DNA as a blueprint of life (Williams, B. et al., n.d).
The Discovery of DNA and the Natures of Science Ideas
Concepts on the nature of science have been proposed as a way of explaining about science, as well as, scientific approaches. The ideas regarding the nature of science are numerous, and developed according to the development of science. Five crucial nature of science ideas have been identified in relation to the historical science of the DNA. They include the ideas that science demands evidence, science explains and predicts, science as a blend of logic and imagination, science as unbiased, as well as, the notion that science is not authoritarian. A closer examination of the historical science of DNA reveals the application of all of these ideas regarding the nature of science.
As explained earlier, proving the existence of DNA in human cells required plenty of scientific evidence, supporting the idea that science demands evidence. Without evidence, proving the existence of DNA in human cells would have been impossible (Williams, B. et al., n.d). Secondly, the discovery of DNA demanded a prediction of its existence, as well as, explaining this prediction and supporting it. This is something that the earliest scientists looking into the subject of DNA relied on heavily. Accordingly the historical science of DNA proves that science is neither biased nor authoritarian, as it required the contribution of many scientists for the establishment of the existence of DNA in human cells. The contributions of all scientists were regarded, and none was considered as being superior to the other (Williams, B. et al., n.d).
Significance of the Nature of Science Ideas
The nature of science ideas presented above are crucial for understanding the scientific process, as well as, how scientists work in the history and philosophy of science. In essence, the nature of science ideas expound on the common processes and procedures in various scientific disciplines such as the dependence on evidence, and the utilization of logic and imagination, among other things. These ideas elucidate on the concept, techniques, and information required for the creation of common scientific understanding. The idea that science demands evidence suggests a sense of validity in the scientific process. This is because scientists are required to provide proof that the information provided is true. Accordingly, this notion gives a sense of confidence in the scientific process, as well as, all scientific information.
The notion that science requires the use of logic and imagination elucidates on the role of scientific theories in science. More specifically, this idea suggests that scientific reasoning, in one way or another, needs to conform to logical reasoning. This, therefore, implies the use of common sense in science thus, the support of the ideologies provided by scientific research. The idea that science explains and predicts provides scientific research with the credibility it requires for the provision of scientific information. This, in turn, implies the ability of science to illustrate relationships between phenomena that appear unrelated in common understanding. Lastly, the ideas that science is not biased or authoritarian suggest that scientific information is comprehensive thus provides a sense of assurance in the information provided. In essence, the ideas on the nature of science facilitate comprehensive understanding of the scientific process, as well as, the crucial concepts of scientific research.
Importance to Students
Teaching students the aspects of the nature of science through this historical approach is imperative for the comprehension of some of the underlying aspects in science. As established, the historical science of the DNA allows students to understand the different ways in which man functions. This, in turn, allows students to be perceptive to the evolution of man and the factors that have aided in this evolution. Likewise, the historical science regarding the DNA will also assist students in understanding the aspects of the nature of science, as well as, their application in contemporary science. For example, by understanding the DNA structure, students gain knowledge of the components of the human body, thus can identify the different components and their uses in the body (Williams, B. et al., n.d). At the outset, student will learn the different methods of interpreting experimental data in science, as a way of gaining information regarding a particular subject matter.
As previously mentioned, the discovery of the DNA required the performance of numerous experiments as evidence of its existence. Accordingly, it was the role of the scientists involved to interpret the data collected from the experiments to provide proof for their discovery of the DNA. Through this historical approach, students will also have the ability to learn about objectivity by individual scientists and how scientific objectivity impacts scientific understanding. With this information, students understand that science is a collective process and procedure, and does not rely on the ideas provided by a single scientist. This will, in turn, encourage these students to engage in further scientific research, which is crucial for science. Conclusively students will also have the ability to tell the different ways through which misconceptions can be created and how these can be avoided in the scientific process.
Williams, B. et al., n.d. Model Building: Piecing Together the Structure of DNA. Retrieved
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