Examples of Scientific Essay

A scientific essay has the characteristics of an academic text, but at the same time, its author conveys his thoughts on a particular topic. In the following examples, fragments of books by renowned authors are presented.

The first reading is an excerpt from a popular science text. That is to say, it is an informative book and in its writing, the author uses an essay style while at the same time basing his way of thinking with various types of data.

Example of scientific essay: “Brief history of time” essay, Stephen Hawking

Aristotle believed that the Earth was stationary and that the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars moved in circular orbits around it. I believed that because I was convinced, for mystical reasons, that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the circular movement was the most perfect. This idea was extended by Ptolemy in the second century AD until it constituted a complete cosmological model. The Earth remained in the center, surrounded by eight spheres that carried the Moon, the Sun, the stars and the five planets known at that time, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The planets moved in smaller circles set in their respective spheres so that they could explain their relatively complicated celestial trajectories. The outermost sphere carried the so-called fixed stars, which always remained in the same relative positions, with respect to each other, rotating together across the sky. What was behind the last sphere was never clearly described, but it certainly was not part of the universe observable by man.

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Ptolemy’s model provided a reasonably accurate system for predicting the positions of celestial bodies in the sky. But, in order to predict these positions correctly, Ptolemy had to assume that the Moon was following a path that placed it in some moments twice closer to Earth than in others. And this meant that the Moon should sometimes appear twice as large as it usually has! Ptolemy recognized this inconsistency, despite which his model was broad, though not universally, accepted. It was adopted by the Christian Church as the image of the universe that agreed with the Scriptures, and which, in addition, presented the great advantage of leaving, outside the sphere of fixed stars, an enormous amount of space for heaven and hell.

Example of a scientific essay: “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan “

Earth is a place, but it is not the only place at all. It does not even become a normal place. No planet or star or galaxy can be normal, because most of the Cosmos is empty.

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The only normal place is the vast, cold and universal emptiness, the perpetual night of intergalactic space, a place so strange and desolate that the planets are compared to it, the stars and galaxies seem to us something painfully rare and precious. If we were randomly released into the Cosmos, the probability that we would find ourselves on or near a planet would be less than one part in a billion. In everyday life, such a probability is considered void. The worlds are something precious.

If we adopt an intergalactic perspective we will see scattered like sea foam on the waves of space innumerable tendrils of light, weak and dim.

They are the galaxies. Some are lonely travelers; most live in communal clusters, pressed against each other, wandering forever in the great cosmic darkness. We have before us the Cosmos on the largest scale we know. We are in the kingdom of the nebulae, eight billion light-years from Earth, halfway to the edge of the known universe.

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A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars, of thousands and billions of stars. Each star can be a sun for someone. Within a galaxy, there are stars and worlds and perhaps also a proliferation of living beings and intelligent beings and civilizations that navigate through space. But from afar a galaxy reminds me more of a collection of affectionately collected objects: perhaps seashells, or corals, productions of nature in their incessant labor for eons in the cosmic ocean.

Sources consulted:

Hawking, Stephen. Brief history of time.

Sagan, Carl. “Cosmos”. 2011

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