Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


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Published in Physics Teacher v. 26, pp. 82-89 (1988). Copyright © 1988 American Association of Physics Teachers. Used by permission.


From the history of science we can learn not only some science and some history, but also something about how science is done and how it interacts with technology.
The First case study chosen illustrates the development of an understanding of a phenomenon of nature-one that has been observed with awe and wonder for as long as man has walked the Earth, but has only been well understood in the last 200 years. Some of the greatest thinkers of all time have worked on the problems of the rainbow.
The second study shows how an important invention became possible only when nature was well enough understood. It also illustrates the interaction of science and technology, that is, between understanding and application.

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