Hypothesis versus Theory versus Fact
- A tentative explanation or idea about how things work
- A hypothesis guides you in further work to get a better answer
Example of a hypothesis: "The moon is made of cheese" (note: this is the kind of hypothesis my wife would come up with). How could we test this hypothesis?
- Construct a rocket to go to the moon and return with samples
- Make a cheese pizza substituting the moon samples for the cheese
- Ask people (e.g. graduate students. No, wait, they aren't real people…) to eat the pizza and see if they can tell any difference from pizza made with real cheeseTM (from Wisconsin)
- Most likely conclusion: Hey, this pizza tastes like dirt
New hypothesis (altered to include additional information from above experiment): The moon is not made of cheese, but is made of dirt, sort of like the Earth
- A theory is an explanation of the general principles of certain phenomena with considerable facts to support it
- A theory remains valid only if every new piece of information supports it
- If a single piece of available information does not support a theory, then the theory (as proposed) is disproved
- It is a fact that on June 30, 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, an explosion equivalent to about 15 million tons of TNT occurred.
- It is a theory that this explosion was due to a natural, extra-terrestrial phenomenon and not to an activity associated with man.
- One hypothesis is that a comet collided with the Earth (a competing hypothesis is that a small black hole collided with the Earth)
1998 Dr. Michael Blaber