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Question of the Week: What branch of science do you find most interesting?

2009 May 11

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Science has many branches – biology, physics, geology, chemistry, and others.  Tell us what kind of science you find most interesting and why.

What branch of science do you find most interesting?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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79 Responses leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    May 13, 2009

    Be afraid! Be very afraid!

  2. Matt permalink
    May 13, 2009

    Shout out to the Geology crew. It’s the branch most fundamentally relevant to our existance… In my opinion.

    I’m also developing a fondness for human psychology, which may or may not be an actual science. It really is fascinating to try to understand what make people say and do the things thay do. That is why I particularly enjoy reading the postings of some of the regular contributors to this blog.

  3. Maria Cortes says permalink
    May 13, 2009

    I agree Chemistry is the most interesting..however every branch of
    science has basic components that explain or try to explain the
    phenomena we see, or cannot see but know is there working its magic.. Environmental science is the one of the best
    utilizations of the processes of chemistry, biology, geology, etc. to best protect and preserve the vast resources our universe on Earth has.
    I see sciences in general as an art because it takes innovation, imagination, and then the laborious detailed work of passioned
    people both those considered professionals & the everyday inquisitive people to put it all in motion to see it work! Let’s keep at it & learning!

  4. Jack permalink
    May 13, 2009

    Geology, many of the environmental issues in my locale are tied to ground water and therefore the underlying geology of the region. Approximately 600,000 south central Kansans rely on ground water for industrial, agricultural and drinking purposes. Knowledge of the hydrogeology of the area is critical to dealing water quality and quantity issues.

  5. Brendlyn permalink
    May 13, 2009

    Microbiology. This science sits at the intersection between biology, chemistry, and physics. And unlike molecular biology, microbiology promotes an appreciation of a single organism’s full capability as a microcosm of life as we know it. Microorganisms are expected to be models for life as we don’t know it, because key biological functions — nutrient assimilation and energy transformation — take place efficiently, with a reasonable degree of precision. Microbiology allowed us to define what a single, self-supporting unit of life would be. Microbiology teaches us that life can exist in the most inhospitable climate. By extension, microbiology also promotes our understanding of life’s tenacity. We can define that tenacity by an organism’s ability to exploit whatever materials are in the immediate environment — when that environment is as small as one cubic millimeter;to survive adverse conditions (starvation, high temperature, very acidic or basic pH, etc.), even when that survival requires the organism to exist indefinitely in suspended animation;to reproduce when conditions are good, a process largely controlled by several biogenic compounds (biomolecules that the organism manufactures for itself and its offspring) that can be considered analogous to hormones;to release other hormones that, in the presence of other, identical organisms (its brethren), control the entire population’s ability to exploit their common environment to cooperate with its brethren, even to the point of self-sacrifice, to ensure that their offspring have the best possible chance to reach a more favorable environment
    to pass its own genetic information to its offspring without purposeful modification by division in two;
    to exchange genetic information coding for new abilities with its brethren or even strangers (other microbial or macroscopic organisms); to compete with strangers for nutrients and electron donors, where success is determined by the rate at which these substances are absorbed and waste products accumulate; to cooperate with strangers that pretreat (modify or partially degrade) nutrients or electron sources (through oxidation or reduction), allowing a stable external partnership to form; and to exploit the efforts, of strangers much larger than itself, to consume the organism by inactivating the strangers’ digestive processes to form what is essentially a stable, protective cocoon.

    Microbiology rocks!

  6. Royan permalink
    May 13, 2009

    I like evolution!! To me it’s the most fun… It also provides never-ending hope for the future:)

  7. sentient permalink
    May 13, 2009

    I find climate science the most interesting. But purely from a psychological perspective. The preoccupation with a single greenhouse gas (CO2) is a remarkably telling evolutionary signal. I enjoy the focus on GHGs as the predominant climate change factor. The ability to rub a single fact together, frequently and to the absolute denial of any of the other 800 pound gorillas in the climate change room is simply both fascinating and a test of our evolutionary intelligence. In all of the EPA’s and popular press excretions, we are hardly ever confronted by the geometric rise in human population (and its concomitant demand for natural resources), or the doubling of triple canopy rainforest since last year (due to the righteous need for biofuels), both of which are likely to hit us sooner and with arguably more devastating effect than CO2. But more fascinating than all of that is the fact (not a model prediction) that for at least the past six interglacials dating back to the Mid Pleistocene Transition, each interglacial has lasted about half of a precessional cycle (which is 23k years). Meaning this one, the Holocene, at 11,500 years and in which all of human civilization has occurred, is pretty much kaput.

    So I have to complicate the single variable question you have posted by encompassing not one field of science, but two. Climate science tells us that CO2 is the climate change progenitor that we must solve. Given that each interglacial we have proxy evidence for ended abruptly with a rapid natural decline to ice age conditions, and assuming that the alarmists are right, and that the past proven descents into each sequential ice age after one half of a precessional cycle is any guide, wouldn’t the ultimate definition of psychological denial be that instead of limiting GHG emissions we might find ourselves needing needing to spew out as much GHGs as possible in order to cushion our descent into the next natural ice age?

    Meanwhile, enjoy the interglacial. While it lasts……..

  8. BOB permalink
    May 14, 2009

    Physics is my main interest but I have interests in most every science. They all fascinate me and the interrelationship between them keeps me wanting to learn more.

  9. Christen permalink
    May 14, 2009

    Environmental Science is da bomb! The more I learn, the more I want to protect this beautiful Earth the Lord entrusted us with.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    May 14, 2009

    Not that I necessarily agree or disagree with this comment, I applaud
    that leo said what was on his mind. Very bold, I like it

  11. Vivian permalink
    May 14, 2009

    I am a social scientist by training Econ/History at Emory Univ. Atlanta. Dr. Rondo Cameron Advisor History (Pres. American Econ. History Assoc.) Leonard Carlson (Econ.) Micro & Indigenous economies. Just took some hard science Bio & Env. Science. at Community College. Courses have small class sizes, & are relatively inexpensive to get hard science foundation. Currently looking at Chemistry, Oceanography, Astronomy and Geology in this manner. Goal study the Green Revolution in the Classic Manner taught by Cameron. I prepare records for the Archives as a contractor. Having the science courses helps to understand and appreciate my work.

  12. Anonymous permalink
    May 14, 2009

    Sounds like Betty needs a little education of science. Please dont
    confuse what science is vs faith. The question was not regarding
    your faith.

  13. arthur permalink
    May 14, 2009

    Easy. Release a plague and destroy all man kind. Too much? Okay, just destroy half the population, human and animal…because that is the only way to effectively reduce CO2 emissions.

  14. arthur permalink
    May 14, 2009

    correct Leo, EPA has become a bunch of political enviro nazis.

  15. Lina-EPA permalink*
    May 14, 2009

    Personally, I prefer biological sciences, but frankly they are all interconnected in one way or another.

  16. Mark Ballington permalink
    May 15, 2009

    Astronomy:
    It is big Science,It is impressive.It is positive.
    I am impressed with the Space telescopes, and their improvements. For example Hubble.
    I am also impressed with the technological advances of the ground based telescopes and the software.
    I like the distribution of information.
    It is a Historical fact Countries survive and prosper through technological advances.

  17. Sheryl Ervin permalink
    May 15, 2009

    I find them all equally facinating. My background is in geology/earth science and chemistry although I found that an understanding of all in important. I enjoy finding out how each interracts with the others.

  18. Kristianna permalink
    May 15, 2009

    My favorite form of science? In relations to the concept of Green and ecology it is history. It is said that one does not know where she or he is going till one knows where they have been. The knowledge of the past gives light to the present and gives hope or warning to the future. Global warming did not just happen overnight, and it will not change overnight either. Deforestation just did not happen in this century, but has been in a steady pace for over one hundred years. If we look to the days of the dinosaurs we are missing the bigger picture, we are not dinosaurs for we are human. If we caused this mess, then we have the ability to turn things around. We have the ability to stop Global Warming, but do we really have the will?

  19. Chris S permalink
    May 15, 2009

    Science is a facinating tool, especially when applied to what might be referred to as Natural History…. then it really starts to be fun. Must be the result of my early love affair with the American Museum of Natural History. My initial membership was a Christmas present from my mom back in 1961 and up through high school I knew my way around the place practically blindfolded. I’ve retained my membership, but live too far away to visit anymore. Sigh….
    I majored in Biology and Environmental Studies as an undergrad and currently work for a state conservation department… but that is only a fraction of what I find facinating.
    It’s all grist for the mill and as long as it keeps itself grounded in what I’ll call the “real world”, then I’m happy. Too much number crunching or armchair theorizing and I tend to suspect that the Ivory Tower folks have turned scientific inquiry into a form of philosophy that may or may not translate well into reality.

  20. Craig Conant permalink
    May 15, 2009

    I agree that chemistry is the most interesting science. It is either at the root of many other disciplines, or is so fundamental to them that they cannot be understood properly without taking chemistry into account. Even in bonehead astronomy classes you learn that the universe has a chemistry – each element emits a different spectographic imprint. Biology can’t be understood without first understanding the chemistry of DNA and RNA. You can’t understand why bone material disintegrates in some soils while papyrus remains relatively intact in others without understanding soil chemistry – meaning you can’t even do archaeology properly without some knowledge of chemistry. And don’t get me started on nuclear physics – it’s chemistry at the level of particles and subparticles.

  21. PEG BITTNER permalink
    May 17, 2009

    I HAVE FOUND ASTRONOMY THE MOST INTERESTING SCIENCE EVER SINCE I WAS A CHILD. I HAVE HAD A FASCINTION OF OUTER SPACE AND WHAT IS BEYOND FOR 50 YEARS. I HAVE HAD THE SAME EXCITEMENT AND CONCERN FOR EACH SPACE LAUNCH AND ANTICIIPATION FOR A NEW DISCOVERY WITH EACH ONE. WHEN WE LANDED ON THE MOON AND IT WAS BROADCASTED IT WAS THE GREATEST DAY I HAD EVER LIVED. BUT NOW WITH THE HUBBLE TELESCOPE AND ASTRONAUTS ABLE TO TAKE WALKS INTO SPACE WITHOUT BEING TETHERED THE GREATEST DAY IS YET TO COME. WHO KNOWS WHERE SPACE EXPLORATION WILL TAKE US AND I AM HERE FOR THE RIDE. IT IS UTTERLY AMAZING WHAT IS OUT THERE AND BEYOND AND WE ARE GOING TO FIND OUT

  22. azrider permalink
    May 17, 2009

    All science is imporant. We would still be in the Dark Ages without it, and the battle continues even after 2,00 yr’s with “Belief” trying to debunk it all. Thank’s to the brave men & women who broke through with life saving knowledge at the risk of their own life. We must now use all branches of Science to get this little blue planet back on tract before We totally destroy it..Praying ain’t going to do it..Now Faith, that’s a different matter.

  23. Patricia permalink
    May 17, 2009

    Bioethics…so fascinating…so many issues…and no easy answers!

  24. leo permalink
    May 17, 2009

    I do not know if EPA could be classed with the word nazis, but I do know that they do not want permanent solutions for the superfund program or correct many of they problems associated with hazardous waste materials. I do have the proof to back up what I have said for both this administration and the last administration. I also have the proof that they do not care about science that is presented to them. I would ask that you check your impaired water list where you live and also look at the nearest superfund to you and then look at the law in the cfr that congress passed that EPA is suppose to be following. Make sure you check the second step of the nine step process that CERCLA clearly states what they (EPA) is suppose to be following at superfund sites, capping and deed restrictions do not qualify in the cercla laws, nor are they permanent

  25. Emilio Malaguti permalink
    May 18, 2009

    As many replied, Chemistry is my preferred science, not only because is the one I am in contact with for the past 25 years, but also because is present since the starting of time with the broth of life.

  26. Dana Patterson permalink
    May 18, 2009

    I find chemistry the most intriguing of all the sciences. Chemistry explains the origins and details of life. Of course all the sciences are interconnected, which makes ‘science’ in general facinating. In a shift towards a sustainable world, “green chemistry” will be of upmost importance. The way we produce materials through reactions and catalysts is in dire need of a makeover. Mass production and the results of the industrial revolution are smacking us in the face and leaving a giant handprint. Through green chemistry, we are slowly creating new processes that generate less waste, recycle the leftovers, and use renewable resources. The future lies in the hands of the young scientists with creative, innovative ideas.

  27. John P E Curtin permalink
    February 3, 2010

    Planetary science seems to link all of the other sciences together. When the Kepler mission releases its latest discoveries we will have discovered more than 600 extrasolar planets. For the 21st century Planetary science will develop using as its basis all the other sciences and all of them will contribute to our discoveries in the other ones. Planetary Science seems to be , by necessity , the most inclusive of all the sciences. In the past each of the other sciences have had many practitioners that have maintained that their science is the best of all sciences and that this other science isn’t really a science but Planetary Science could not do that without falling apart. Therefore Planetary science is the most interesting and its practitioners are the most modest.

  28. Ryan Frechette permalink
    March 29, 2010

    All caps does not equal importance.

  29. Reymond B. Desacula permalink
    June 22, 2013

    please help me to do my project about the most important topic about branch of science. I want to do my term paper easily. one branch only, one branch which very easy to find in researching or in the book. Thank you.

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