An experiment is a test of an idea invented by someone, usually a scientist. An experiment is used to test a theory—to see how well the real world matches the theory. Experiments have been used for many years to help people understand the world around them.
One important observation about experiments is that they can tell us if a theory is false. They cannot tell us if a theory is true. For example, if we invent a theory that says All houses are made of wood, we cannot say that it is true because all the houses we have seen are made of wood. But, if we find a house that is not made of wood, we know that our theory is false.
Benjamin Franklin did a well known experiment by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. He did the experiment to see if lightning was made of electricity.
Experiments are not the same as faith (belief) or other ways to find truth because experiments must have proof. They begin by testing falsehood to find out truth.
"The universe does not tell us when we are right, only when we are wrong." – Karl Popper
- Galileo Galilei did some experiments about free fall (1623).
- Benjamin Franklin showed that lightning is a form of electricity (1752).
- The Michelson-Morley experiment proved a flaw in old physics, and prompted Einstein's work (1887).
- Ivan Pavlov did some experiments about the classical conditioning of dogs (1927).
- The Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment proved DNA was the molecule which caused heredity(1944).
- Stanley Milgram showed that people follow orders; this became known as the Milgram experiment (1961).