scientific theory

Definitions of scientific theory

n a theory that explains scientific observations

scientific theories must be falsifiable”
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big bang theory, big-bang theory
(cosmology) the theory that the universe originated sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from the cataclysmic explosion of a small volume of matter at extremely high density and temperature
nebular hypothesis
(cosmology) the theory that the solar system evolved from a hot gaseous nebula
planetesimal hypothesis
(cosmology) the theory that the solar system was formed by the gravitational accumulation of planetesimals
continuous creation theory, steady state theory
(cosmology) the theory that the universe maintains a constant average density with matter created to fill the void left by galaxies that are receding from each other
Newton's theory of gravitation, gravitational theory, theory of gravitation, theory of gravity
(physics) the theory that any two particles of matter attract one another with a force directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them
theory that the total organization of an organism rather than the functioning of individual organs is the determinant of life processes
atomic theory
a theory of the structure of the atom
cell doctrine, cell theory
(biology) the theory that cells form the fundamental structural and functional units of all living organisms; proposed in 1838 by Matthias Schleiden and by Theodor Schwann
undulatory theory, wave theory, wave theory of light
(physics) the theory that light is transmitted as waves
corpuscular theory, corpuscular theory of light
(physics) the theory that light is transmitted as a stream of particles
kinetic theory, kinetic theory of gases
(physics) a theory that gases consist of small particles in random motion
Einstein's theory of relativity, relativity, relativity theory, theory of relativity
(physics) the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts
(physics) a theory that tries to link the four fundamental forces
quantum theory
(physics) a physical theory that certain properties occur only in discrete amounts (quanta)
indeterminacy principle, uncertainty principle
(quantum theory) the theory that it is impossible to measure both energy and time (or position and momentum) completely accurately at the same time
germ theory
(medicine) the theory that all contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms
information theory
(computer science) a statistical theory dealing with the limits and efficiency of information processing
Arrhenius theory of dissociation, theory of dissociation, theory of electrolytic dissociation
(chemistry) theory that describes aqueous solutions in terms of acids (which dissociate to give hydrogen ions) and bases (which dissociate to give hydroxyl ions); the product of an acid and a base is a salt and water
evolutionism, theory of evolution, theory of organic evolution
(biology) a scientific theory of the origin of species of plants and animals
Ostwald's theory of indicators, theory of indicators
(chemistry) the theory that all indicators are either weak acids or weak bases in which the color of the ionized form is different from the color before dissociation
theory of inheritance
(biology) a theory of how characteristics of one generation are derived from earlier generations
association theory, associationism
(psychology) a theory that association is the basic principle of mental activity
(psychology) a theory that reduces all mental phenomena to simple elements (sensations and feelings) that form complex ideas by association
a psychology based on the assumption that all mental process are useful to an organism in adapting to the environment
Gestalt psychology, configurationism
(psychology) a theory of psychology that emphasizes the importance of configurational properties
game theory, theory of games
(economics) a theory of competition stated in terms of gains and losses among opposing players
Bohr theory
(physics) a theory of atomic structure that combined Rutherford's model with the quantum theory; electrons orbiting a nucleus can only be in certain stationary energy states and light is emitted when electrons jump from one energy state to another
Rutherford atom
first modern concept of atomic structure; all of the positive charge and most of the mass of the atom are contained in a compact nucleus; a number of electrons (equal to the atomic number) occupy the rest of the volume of the atom and neutralize the positive charge
Einstein's general theory of relativity, general relativity, general relativity theory, general theory of relativity
a generalization of special relativity to include gravity (based on the principle of equivalence)
Einstein's special theory of relativity, special relativity, special relativity theory, special theory of relativity
a physical theory of relativity based on the assumption that the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant and the assumption that the laws of physics are invariant in all inertial systems
kinetic theory of heat
a theory that the temperature of a body increases when kinetic energy increases
Mendelianism, Mendelism
the theory of inheritance based on Mendel's laws
a theory of organic evolution claiming that new species arise and are perpetuated by natural selection
a theory of organic evolution claiming that acquired characteristics are transmitted to offspring
punctuated equilibrium, theory of punctuated equilibrium
a theory of evolution holding that evolutionary change in the fossil record came in fits and starts rather than in a steady process of slow change
Type of:
a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena

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