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Scientific Laws

  In science, enquiry proceeds on the basis that some principles are universally applicable and valid. They may be added to (as for example Euclid\'s principles of geometry were supplemented in the 19th century by the system known as non-Euclidean geometry) or they may be modified (as for example Newton\'s laws of motion were modified in the light of the theory of relativity), but by and large they are not rejected. It is, for example, a scientific law (Boyle\'s Law) that, at a constant temperature, the volume of a given mass of gas is in inverse proportion to its pressure. This seems different from a theory, such as that when substances burn they give off a substance called phlogiston: an idea totally destroyed by Priestley\'s discovery of oxygen and its properties. Perhaps, as some modern scientists and philosophers of science are claiming, all laws of science are theories which have not, so far, been disproved. KMcL

See also philosophy of science; scientific method.



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