How science is done

We understand how a cookie cooks pretty well. I mean two things by this. One: We understand how to assemble and bake a good cookie. And two: We understand the physical processes that make this happen.

This is how science is done, for the most part.

There are exceptions. Physics and math, for instance, are different. But for the most part science tends to be an evolutionary process. And so it is that a cook, experimenting with different compositions and temperatures, is doing science. Maybe they don’t know that. But they are. Maybe the cookie was invented accidentally, while someone was trying to make something else. Still — science.

We have a perception that science is something we can order, as if from a catalogue, and have delivered, as if off the back of a truck. But it’s not really like that.

Scientists get asked “what’s the point of your research” a lot. There’s no good answer to this question, really. Except maybe to say that we might end up with a better cookie.