THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: LESSON 2

Last we left off in learning about the scientific method, we were asking questions and doing some background research. Remember that all that background research changes the basic question you started with. Eventually, after all of that research, you get to form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a statement or a prediction that attempts to answer your question. If I place my hand on the stove I will probably burn my hand. That's not really a great hypothesis, but it gives you an idea. If I do this then that will happen is the basic format of a hypothesis. The hypothesis needs to be testable and you need to consider all the variables involved in doing those tests or experiments. 

The human body is made up of trillions of cells. Nearly two trillion of those cells divide every day to replace old or dead cells. For instance, the cells that line the gut absorb stuff and protect the body. That's why it is important to maintain a healthy layer of these cells. The body does this by replacing those cells daily with stem cells living deep in the intestinal lining or crypt. Those stem cells have also been linked to the origin of intestinal cancer. The cells that line the gut and make up the skin, basically all the cells that have to be replaced regularly, are somatic cells and they divide through mitosis. 

 

There's a lot more involved in mitosis than that video shows. There's many different proteins involved in everything from signaling cell division to actual division. If you take out one of those proteins, cell division may or may not be disrupted. If something goes wrong and there's more of a certain protein than the cell actually needs, cell division may or may not be disrupted. The types of cell division disruption can vary from incomplete cell division to lopsided cell division. So you can see that we can't just form a hypothesis like if I stop cell division then I can cure cancer. First of all we don't want to stop cell division and secondly the link between cell division and cancer is far more complicated. So we start with something simple like if I change the way cells signal mitosis I will regulate cell division. 

Except I realize now that I have to go about testing this theory that this hypothesis is very complicated and there are many variables involved. To test this hypothesis, I am going to have to plan my experiments very carefully and those experiments are probably going to lead to more questions. Hopefully through some of these experiments though, I can answer a part of that hypothesis or that my findings lead me closer to understanding a piece of that hypothesis. This brings us to the middle of that flow chart of the Scientific Method. We are still experimenting and testing the hypothesis. We haven't even started to analyze the data or communicate the results. The Scientific Method is hard work, y'all. 

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss making sense of the data and how to represent that information in a way that makes sense!