Lesson 1.1: Critical Reading
Read this passage from the text and answer the questions that follow.
Scientific Theories and Scientific Laws
Some ideas in science gain the status of theories. A scientific theory is a broad explanation that is widely accepted because it is supported by a great deal of evidence. An example is the kinetic theory of matter. According to this theory, all matter consists of tiny particles that are in constant motion. Particles move at different speeds in matter in different states. These differences in particle motion explain why solids, liquids, and gases look and act differently. Think about how ice and water differ, or how water vapor differs from liquid water. The kinetic theory of matter explains the differences.
Scientific laws are often confused with scientific theories, but they are not the same thing. A scientific law is a statement describing what always happens under certain conditions in nature. It answers “how” questions but not “why” questions. An example of a scientific law is Newton’s law of gravity. It describes how all objects attract each other. It states that the force of attraction is greater for objects that are closer together or have more mass. However, the law of gravity doesn’t explain why objects attract each other in this way. Einstein’s theory of general relativity explains why.