Check out this reddit post:
I only found this because I’m researching “theoretical neuroscience”. I was breaking the topic down and googled “theoretical science” and this came up. I feel like the both the Original Poster and the 1st commenter are correct in their definitions of the term, but was wondering what you thought?
Does “theoretical science” mean disciplines where experiments cannot be carried out to prove or disprove ideas and theories, but which are in themselves based on plausible and widely accepted principles? I can understand how “theoretical physics” fit into this because there is little, if any, scientific tools that can be used to carry out experiments on black holes or the Big Bang (at least that’s my understanding).
Many fields of science can be broken down into three categories:
- Theoretical Science: these are the scientists who develop new theories and hypotheses to explain natural phenomenon. For example, in astronomy, a theoretical scientist might say “I have formulated a theory to explain how planets form. My theory predicts that the Moon is made of cheese.”
- Instrumental Science: these are the scientists and engineers who develop and build the latest and greatest technological tools to test the theories. A instrumental scientist or engineer might read what the previous theoretical scientists said and respond with “That is an interesting theory with a simple test! We should see if the Moon is made of cheese! We need to build a special telescope and instrument that can determine if the Moon is in fact made of cheese!”
- Observational/Experimental Science: these are the scientists who test theories using experiments. An experimental scientist might hear about the new Moon theory and new technological innovations that will allow him or her to test this theory. He or she would perform an experiment or observation then decide if the data fits with the theory. The scientist might say “Yes, in fact the Moon is made of cheese! This supports the original theory!”
What do you think about “theoretical science”?