Chapter 7. Doing Science: How to Learn More from Your Atmospheric Data

Science can be defined as the practice of observing the natural world, and trying to make objective sense of it by uncovering facts or cause-and-effect relationships.

The gadgets in this book detect substances and conditions in the atmosphere that otherwise would be invisible to your senses. (Essentially, the gadgets are technological extensions of your senses.) Building them will help hone your skills with DIY electronics and Arduino programming. These are fun, interesting, and practical things to do—but doing them by themselves is not doing science.

Suppose you’d like to learn more from what you uncover. Maybe you’d like to measure atmospheric conditions over days or weeks, and then interpret those readings; or monitor the atmosphere in different parts of your neighborhood, county, or state, and compare that data usefully; or perhaps even organize people around the world to build gas sensors or photometers, and compare findings from these different places in meaningful ways. To do these things, you’ll need to apply some intellectual elbow grease to how you use your gadget. You’ll have to do some science.

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is the foundation of how most of the serious science in the world gets done. It’s a systematic process of investigation that tests ideas about how cause and effect operate in the natural world, helps to reduce or eliminate bias, and allows the meaningful comparison of ...

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