The Natural Sciences aim to understand, describe and predict naturally occurring phenomena that are considered to be part of the natural world; i.e. the life sciences and the physical sciences. The natural sciences articles and books on Direct Knowledge will help you understand the methods, goals, and trends in the field so that you can become part of it.
Defining Natural Sciences
Scientific fields that aim to understand, describe and predict naturally occurring phenomena are considered to be part of the natural sciences. The data collected is based on both observation and experimentation, which collects empirical evidence to identify consistent patterns and verify theories as truths.
This is called the scientific method, and is a crucial part of science as a whole. It's one of the first things students learn as young as elementary school, and one of the foundations of the field. You'll encounter natural sciences topics here that reinforce the ideas of the scientific method as well as guide you through actually using it. Everything else in the field builds upon it into the many areas of natural sciences.
Overall, the natural sciences fall into one of two central branches. The first branch is life sciences, which revolve around biological studies. Physical sciences comprise the second branch. This branch contains astronomy, chemistry, earth science and physics.
Natural Sciences of Living Organisms
As a branch, life science is biological science. These terms are interchangeable; however, the various subdivisions within the branch include focuses on different living organisms. Fields within this category tend to focus on specific organisms, their functions, their compositions and their interaction with the world around them. For example, botany focuses on plants, ecology focuses on ecosystems, etc. Moreover, studies in this area often enhance the quality of life for animals, plants, ecosystems, and humans alike.
Animals, plants, microorganisms and humans are all types of living things studied within biological sciences. Biology is in and of itself the study of life. Work in this area seeks to describe and understand living organisms from their physical structure, chemical processes and molecular interactions to their development, evolution and ecological interactions. The articles on this natural science include a wide range of topics. You can read a rundown of a number of them here, or check out individual articles that go more in-depth for particular topics.
While there is a lot of complexity within this branch of natural science, it is a unified approach to interpreting the world of living organisms. To start, biology identifies cells as the most basic unit of life. Anything comprised of cells, therefore, are living organisms. Secondly, genes are seen as the source of heredity. Lastly, evolution is the premise for both the creation and extinction of all species. It is through the ability to adapt and transform that a species either thrives or becomes extinct.
Of note, biology contains two central fields: theoretical and experimental. In the former area of research, biologists use mathematical means to create abstract, quantitative models of living organisms. This allows researchers to clearly identify and quantify governing structures of living organisms, as well as the behavior and development of those systems. Experimental biology, on the other hand, conducts physical experiments designed to prove theories.
As a natural science, the branch of biology has broad applications. Studies within the field frequently inform the industries of agriculture, food science, medicine, pharmaceutical sciences and veterinary sciences.
Natural Sciences of Non-living Organisms
Physical sciences are those that seek to explain natural phenomena through experimentation and confirmation of hypotheses. Moreover, this field aims to predict how and when phenomena will occur based on analyzing trends in empirical data. Because these phenomena are not linked to living beings, the classification of study is unique from life science. It includes physics, chemistry, and Earth and Space science.
Physics can be thought of as the base study of matter and atoms. Them chemistry expands on it by focusing on certain qualities and interactions of atoms. The Earth and Space sciences zoom out further until you notice atoms less and materials more. At this point you can sometimes forget that the vastness of the planet and space come from such small origins! But as you read articles here you'll continuously see the connections between these various natural sciences.
Chemistry is ultimately the study of matter, which is contingent on atomic particles coming together to form various bonds. In looking at atomic matter composed of chemical elements, we begin to enter studies in this field. This area of natural science takes interest in chemical behavior, composition, properties, structure and reactions. More so, the field looks at how these elements change in relation to chemical reactions.
Chemists primarily focus on how atoms interact with one another to create chemical bonds. These bonds form chemical compounds that can be further tested and analyzed. As such, analysis of these elements and their microscopic components make the field broadly applicable to other fields and within applied sciences.
As a large base of knowledge for numerous fields within the life sciences, other physical sciences and applied sciences, chemistry seems to be the glue holding together much of our understanding of the world. The processes analyzed and the discoveries made through chemical experimentation have made it generally invaluable to a well-rounded education in science.
Planet Earth is the foundation for all studies and interests as humans work to better understand their home. Earth sciences, or geosciences, literally study the planet through several fields focused on unique aspects of it.
As a branch of natural science within the physical sciences, Earth science articles can be broken down further into several fields. These are atmospheric sciences, geology, geography, oceanography and planetary science. Within each of these fields are specific areas of scientific study that focus on unique natural phenomena.
Atmospheric sciences investigate properties and processes of the atmosphere. Climate studies are important within this field and include investigating basic principles, chemical properties and unique natural phenomena.
Geology studies Earth's components. Some geological studies also study the history of these components to better understand their development. From the study of prehistoric life (paleontology) to the study of modern environmental problems (environmental geology), geology encompasses a large body of knowledge to discern numerous aspects about Earth itself.
Geography is the study of the terrestrial surface, including how it forms, what landscapes exist, and how animals and humans populate and use it. Within this field are numerous forms of applied science and social science, making it highly interdisciplinary. Due to this interdisciplinary nature, you may want to broaden your scope by reading articles outside of the natural sciences.
Oceanography is the study of the ocean's physical and biological properties. Whether oceanographers participate in mapping the ocean floor in a geological capacity or study the ocean holistically from a biological perspective to understand the interactions of organisms, they all participate in contributing to this field.
Planetary science investigates planetary systems, including planets themselves and their moons. This field continues to grow with space exploration and the frequent discovery of new space elements.
Matter, motion, space, time, energy, force — these components create the foundation for the field of physics. This branch of natural science aims to understand how the universe behaves through a broad analysis of nature. Because of its unique area of study, the field holds its own nomenclature in order to better identify phenomena it analyzes.
In the natural sciences articles here, you'll see how physicists are able to identify the so-called rules of nature through the use of the scientific method . They are able to investigate the elements that interact to create and change energy and force. Moreover, the field consistently updates our understanding of non-living organisms through experimentation and analysis.
Interestingly, physics is a highly applicable science, informing engineering and applied mathematics. Without a strong understanding of the principles within this discipline, innovations would be far more limited.
Although space science is typically referred to simply as astronomy, it is actually a large discipline involving space exploration, the study of natural phenomena in space, the study of planets and other physical bodies and more. Ultimately, this natural science focuses on understanding the universe and breaking down the unknown into compartmentalized concepts.
Within the space sciences are astronomy, aerospace engineering, astrobiology, astrobotany, cosmochemistry, cosmology, planetary science, micro-g environment research, forensic astronomy, space archaeology, space medicine, space architecture and archaeoastronomy. Of these, astronomy and aerospace engineering are perhaps the most famous.
Briefly, astronomy aims to understand celestial entities through various means, including observation and mathematical modelling. Beyond those “basics,” there is a large amount of theorizing about the universe. Aerospace engineering, however, involves the movement of humans and objects into space. Namely, within this discipline, there are astronauts and engineers seeking to understand the universe through more physical encounters.
Books in the Natural Sciences
The natural sciences are becoming a big part of modern life. Not only are they part of much of the technology, medicine, and other modern marvels of the world, but they also play into our everyday lives. Many people need the natural sciences for their jobs. Many go to school to get degrees in natural sciences. Scientists can even be celebrities and role models on social media. Figures like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Bill Nye are often household names, even for those who aren’t big into science. And natural science books are read both for education and out of pure curiosity by the public.
This is great news, showing that taking a close look at the world around us is “cool“. And more importantly than being in style, it’s also possible for more people. You don’t need to attend advanced classes in biology to learn about evolution. You don’t need to work in a lab to know about climate change. Natural sciences books such as those in this category make learning about these topics a possibility for everyone.
Natural Sciences Books Categories
There are five main categories in which these natural science books fall, although they often overlap with each other: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics, and Space Sciences. In each category you’ll find different styles of books for different readers’ needs. Some focus on technical details for students and professionals. These often start with basics and include ways to practice knowledge in the form of example problems. Others provide reading material for anyone, aiming to educate on certain topics without getting too technical. Take a look to see what piques your interest.
This area has always been somewhat mysterious, but we come closer to understanding it every day. It is the study of the physical structure, processes, and interactions of life, from the simplest single-celled creatures to the most intelligent primate on the planet. The natural sciences books here include helpful basics such as Concepts of Biology. In this book, non-biology-major students and others can grasp fundamentals in the field.
This makes it great for those who need to take biology courses as part of their “core” classes in school, but don’t find the area to be their forte. It starts off by looking at cells and genetics, moving on to molecular biology, evolution, and ecology. It also includes how these areas are applicable to technology and other practical areas. Other books such as Cell and Molecular Biology focus on narrower areas, but still cover basic groundwork first. It ensures the reader understands concepts like cells and genetics before getting into the more advanced material.
Natural sciences books in the area of chemistry shift the focus away from life, at least for the most part. They look at the matter itself which comprises both life and all other things that exist. But the focus is on the bonds between the matter and how these bonds make the matter behave and interact in terms of chemical behavior, properties, composition, and reactions.
As an introduction to the topic, books like General Chemistry: Principles, Patterns, and Applications are perfect. Students just starting out in the field can gain strong foundations through the fresh examples and comprehensive introduction it offers. For more intermediate students, books such as Chemistry 2e might be the right choice. It still reviews intro material, but also extends into new topics. This includes example problems that connect to real-world problems, as well as useful reference tools about various chemical properties and conversions. This book would be a great guide to help students through second-semester chemistry courses.
In the Earth Sciences, you’ll learn about various topics that weave together to form the systems that comprise the Earth. One of the most popular natural science topics within the Earth sciences is geology, which you can find books and other material on throughout the Direct Knowledge site. Geology is the science that allows us to see into the past of the planet. The rocks that form the Earth’s crust as well as the interior all give us clues about this past, and can also reveal other secrets. For example, through geology we discover and extract valuable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels. The Laboratory Manual for Introductory Geology takes a hands-on approach to this topic. It can serve as a great resource for professors creating their lesson plan and students working on intro geology courses.
Apart from academic texts, the natural sciences books here can provide some practical street knowledge as well. One of the geological events that regularly affects people is earthquakes. Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest is an invaluable resource for anyone living in earthquake-prone zones looking to keep themselves safe. Other important Earth sciences topics found in these natural sciences books include climate change, minerals, and water.
Physics and Space Sciences
Arguably the mother of all physical sciences, physics looks at all things relating to matter. This includes motion, time, space, force, and energy. It studies everything from tiny subatomic particles to entire galaxies and the universe itself. This all involves a great deal of calculations that many people find challenging, but the natural sciences books here focusing on physics go to great effort to provide extra assistance.
University Physics Volume 1, for example, specifically works to give a solid foundation for beginner students. Two of the more challenging yet relevant areas of physics are those of Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity. Students won’t typically deal with these topics in-depth in first year classes, but will start to learn about their basics. Books on these calculation-heavy topics typically include thorough explanations and engaging examples all at a pace ideal for students.
Physics also plays a big role in other areas such as space sciences. Introductory natural sciences books like Astronomy will include a bit of physics in with other basics about gravity, planets, stars, and more. The solar system gets a spot in the limelight, but you’ll be able to explore the depths of space as well in this category of natural sciences books.