Science: The Further Pursuit of Knowledge

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

S is for Science...
S is for Science…

The pursuit of knowledge is a never-ending quest, and in a civilization it will lead to the development of medicine, technology, and other sciences. It may sometimes be a bloody path. And which sciences develop when will depend on the culture.

So, let’s get started…

Is there any pursuit of scientific knowledge?

Whether or not your people pursue science depends on a few things. It will depend on how much time they have to pursue anything beyond survival, it will depend on if the supplies and tools they need are accessible, and if the government limits their knowledge at all.

If there is no pursuit of science, how are things explained?

These are things like disease, birth, how plants grow, how fire ignites… even things like rain and snow, what the sun is, or the stars and moon.

Magic can be a form of science.

Just look at our own history – if someone from even 200 years ago were to end up in the present day, so much of what we take for granted would be considered magic.

Life these days might have more wonder if we realized how much magic already surrounds us. So use that to your advantage in writing. 😉

If their science is truly magic, what is its foundation?

We have DNA, how does it differ if the source of life is magical? Is it something that can be tracked, manipulated, or cloned?

What is or isn’t possible? Why?

How technologically advanced is the society, and what stage of knowledge are they at?
Do they know how the world around them works?

Have they had just a glimpse of it, or have they made it to the point of atoms and molecules, or further?

Do they have ways to run experiments?

Is there protocol set up for reliably doing tests, repeating tests, and falsifying them? Are they able to see beyond what is visible with the naked eye?

Do they have a way to transfer information from one place to another, quicker than by physical means?

Are they using their version of the Pony Express, or can they send information through the air, whether it is electronically or magically? The results of some experiments will be affected by how quickly information can be relayed. Some experiments may not be possible, period.

How does their science differ from ours?
Do they practice science the same way, or differently?

What steps are required? Observation, creating hypotheses; the creation of scientific theories and laws, etc. These are all things that must be considered. Some things may not be as important as in our world, depending on how important science is to the society you have created.

Is science a serious discipline of study?

Or is it more of a pastime? Are scientists respected and revered, or ridiculed, like the alchemists of ages past?

What branches of science are pursued?

Different societies will prioritize different things, so not every branch of science will exist in different worlds, nor will they all be at the same level of advancement.

Branches of science might include technology, medicine, agriculture, meteorology, etc.

Science is not the be-all, end-all, though.

Science is a massive undertaking – both in real life, and in fiction. You may need to know more about science depending on what you’re writing (especially if you’re writing hard science fiction), but remember that ultimately your goal is to tell a good story.

It’s not to create an alternate world’s equivalent to DNA or the atom. Unless, of course, it’s important to your story.

Original image used in header is by PublicDomainPictures.

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Recent Comments

  • Sophie Duncan
    April 22, 2014 - 5:53 am · Reply

    I avoid hard science fiction because of the amount of scientific research involved – I just know I’d get something wrong, I prefer fantasy science fiction where, as long as the rules are consistent, magic can play a part 🙂 Combining science and magic can be fun too, in one of my novel series that I write with my sister, we have CSI style science combined with magic, because the main plots revolve around murder mysteries – so there is research involved on the CSI side, but I already have a lot of reference material for that, which makes it easier. 🙂
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
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    • Rebekah Loper
      April 23, 2014 - 8:18 am · Reply

      Ooooh, magical forensics sounds like fun!

      I kid you not, I just had an idea a couple days ago (I think as I was writing that post, actually) that would qualify as hard sci-fi, and I wanted to just sit down and cry because it’s a story I’d love to read, but I wouldn’t even know where to start with writing it.

      That’s the most frustrating part about writing, I think – getting fantastic ideas that most definitely ARE out of your league. Blah.

  • stusharp
    April 22, 2014 - 8:41 am · Reply

    I quite enjoy those characters in fiction who are dabblers in the sciences in that sort of 19th century way, fiddling around in a dozen fields according to what takes their interest. As a historian, I suppose the equivalents for my field would be antiquarians.

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.