Scientific law

Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiments or observations, that describe or predict a range of natural phenomena.[1] The term law has diverse usage in many cases (approximate, accurate, broad, or narrow) across all fields of natural science (physics, chemistry, astronomy, geoscience, biology). Laws are developed from data and can be further developed through mathematics; in all cases they are directly or indirectly based on empirical evidence. It is generally understood that they implicitly reflect, though they do not explicitly assert, causal relationships fundamental to reality, and are discovered rather than invented.[2]

Scientific theories explain why something happens, whereas scientific law describes what happens.

Scientific laws summarize the results of experiments or observations, usually within a certain range of application. In general, the accuracy of a law does not change when a new theory of the relevant phenomenon is worked out, but rather the scope of the law's application, since the mathematics or statement representing the law does not change. As with other kinds of scientific knowledge, scientific laws do not express absolute certainty, as mathematical theorems or identities do. A scientific law may be contradicted, restricted, or extended by future observations.

A law can often be formulated as one or several statements or equations, so that it can predict the outcome of an experiment. Laws differ from hypotheses and postulates, which are proposed during the scientific process before and during validation by experiment and observation. Hypotheses and postulates are not laws, since they have not been verified to the same degree, although they may lead to the formulation of laws. Laws are narrower in scope than scientific theories, which may entail one or several laws.[3] Science distinguishes a law or theory from facts.[4] Calling a law a fact is ambiguous, an overstatement, or an equivocation.[5] The nature of scientific laws has been much discussed in philosophy, but in essence scientific laws are simply empirical conclusions reached by scientific method; they are intended to be neither laden with ontological commitments nor statements of logical absolutes.

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