July 10

Types of Science

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Science is the organized art of trying to understand something that we find, observe, or experience in life. Its applications are very broad so, as you may have guessed, the types of science cover every category imaginable.

Subsets of science focus their studies on everything from ancient fossils (known as paleontologists) and ancient structures (known as archaeologists) to the more obscure, such as the study of sound (known as acoustical science).

It’d be impossible to cover every single scientific discipline at such a pinpointed level, but if you’re looking to better understand how scientists understand things, here’s an overview of the three branches of science and some of the popular subsets within each.

1. Life Sciences

Life sciences are all about better understanding living organisms, and subsets include some of the most well-known areas of scientific study.

Biology

Biology is a type of life science that looks into anatomy, cell biology, chronobiology, developmental biology, genetics, histology, evolutionary biology, and photobiology.

  • Anatomy

    Learn how humans, animals, and plants are constructed and how things work within.
  • Cell Biology

    Learn how the cells that make up humans, animals, and plants work at the cellular level.
  • Chronobiology

    Learn how cyclical phenomena within living organisms interacts with the environment.
  • Developmental Biology

    Learn how organisms go from zygote to complete structure
  • Genetics

    Learn about genes and heredity. Sub-disciplines include genomics and epigenetics.
  • Histology

    Learn about the anatomy of tissues and cells within plants and animals.
  • Evolutionary Biology

    Learn how species originated and change over time.
  • Photobiology

    Learn how light and living things interact.

Botany

A subset of life science, botany is the scientific study of plant organisms.

  • Bryology

    Study moss, hornworts, and hepatics.
  • Dendrology

    Study woody plants.
  • Lichenology

    Study linchens (symbiotic fungi).
  • Mycology

    Study fungi and other plants that reproduce using spores.
  • Palynology

    Study pollen and spores.
  • Phycology

    Study algae.

Ecology

Ecology is focused on how organisms interact with the environment around them.

  • Autoecology

    Study a single species within its environment.
  • Benthic Ecology

    Study the zone on the bottom of the ocean.
  • Conservation Ecology

    Study how extinction can be avoided.
  • Ecophysiology

    Study how organisms adapt to their environments.
  • Ecotoxicology

    Study how toxins effect different populations.
  • Macroecology

    Take a broad perspective to find patterns.
  • Microecology

    Take a localized perspective to ecology.
  • Microbial Ecology

    Study the environment of microbes.
  • Molecular Ecology

    Use genetic data to understand ecology.
  • Synecology

     Study the interactions between coexisting species.
  • Paleoecology

    Study fossils to understand history and nature.
  • Restoration Ecology

    Learn how to restore damaged habitat. 

Medicine

Everyone is familiar with the concept of medical science, but you may not be so familiar with its may subsets.

  • Endocrinology

    Learn how to diagnose and treat diseases that impact the endocrine system.
  • Epidemiology

    Study the cause and distribution of diseases.
  • Gerontology

    Study how organisms age overtime.
  • Immunology

    Learn how the immune system functions and responds.
  • Neuroscience

    Study the structure of the nervous system.
  • Oncology

    Learn about cancer and how it spreads.
  • Pathology

    Study the cause, nature, and development of diseases.
  • Pharmacology

    Study how drugs and medications impact organisms. 
  • Nutrition

    Study how food substances are metablolised by the body, it's role in the human diet and eating frameworks like Intermittent Fasting

Microbiology


Microbiology studies individual organisms, most of which are extremely small and impossible to see with the human eye.

  • Aerobiology

    Study airborne biological particles and how they impact an environment.
  • Bacteriology

    Study bacteria and go on to learn how drugs can be used to treat bacterial infections.
  • Molecular Biology

    Study molecular processes with heavy overlap into the spaces of genetics and biochemistry.
  • Virology

    Study viruses and how they can be prevented and treated. 

Zoology

In simple terms, zoology is the study of animals other than humans.

  • Carcinolog

    Study crustaceans.
  • Cetology

    Study whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
  • Entomology

     Study insects.
  • Herpetology

    Study amphibians and reptiles.
  • Ichthyology

    Study fish.
  • Malacology

    Study mollusks.
  • Mammalogy

    Study mammals.
  • Ornithology

    Study birds.
  • Primatology

    Study primates.
  • Parasitology

    Study parasites and their hosts. 
  • Protozoology

    Study protozoans.

2. Physical Sciences

As you may have guessed, physical sciences study things that are not living. As with life sciences, many subsets exist that focus on different facets of physical science.

Astronomy


The study of stars, planets, space, and non-Earthly phenomena is summed up in the study of astronomy. However, people further specialize by delving into subsets like the following.

  • Aeronautics

    Study the science of flight.
  • Astrobiology

    Study life in the universe. 
  • Astrochemistry

    Study how chemicals are found in space. 
  • Astrodynamics

    Study orbital trajectory. 
  • Astronautics:

    Learn how to design and spend vehicles to space.
  • Astrophysics

    Study how stars, planets, and other objects birth, exist, and die within the universe. 
  • Forensic Astronomy

    Use astronomy to solve crimes or create testimonies in criminal cases. 
  • Space Archaeology

    Combine archaeology with astrology. 
  • Space Medicine

    Learn how to keep astronauts healthy in space. 

Geology


Geology is about studying the earth we live on, including its history, materials, and processes. Climate change is one focus of geologists, but so is predicting earthquakes, finding underground water, and locating good mining locations using various technologies.

  • Geochemistry

    Study the chemical elements within rocks and minerals. 
  • Geophysics

    Study earth using various methods to help build dams and other structures.
  • Mineralogy

    Study minerals.
  • Petrology

    Study rocks. 
  • Sedimentology

    Study sediment, like sand, mud, and dirt. 
  • Volcanology

    Study volcanoes to help predict eruptions. 

Oceanography


The ocean is an incredible thing, and oceanologists study its biological, physical, and chemical properties. They want to solve problems, like learn how to clean up oil spills, while also helping keep the ocean and its species healthy by learning about its many micro systems.

  • Limnology: 

    Study inland water systems, such as lakes and rivers. 
  • Marine Biology

    Study marine organisms within their environment. 
  • Marine Chemistry

    Study chemical composition and processes within the ocean. 
  • Marine Geology

    Study the geology of the ocean floor. 
  • Physical Oceanography

    Study the ocean's physical processes and conditions.

Physics

Want to better understand how energy and matter interact? Physics is the field of science for you.

  • Acoustics

    Study sound and how it interferes in the areas of music, architecture, and other spaces such as SONAR technology. 
  • Aerodynamics

    Study the motion of air. 
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (AMO)

    Study how matter and light interact with one another.
  • Classical Physics

    Based on Newton's laws of motion, Classical Physics predates quantum mechanics. 
  • Cryogenics

    Study very low temperatures and how things behave in such environments. 
  • Dynamics

    Study causes and change of motion. 
  • Electromagnetism

    Study the interactions between electrically charged particles. 
  • Mechanics

    Study the behavior of physical bodies when subject to displacement or force. 
  • Thermodynamics

     Learn how heat and mechanical energy interact. 
  • Nuclear Physics

    Understand quakes and gluons. 
  • Optics

    Study how light interacts with matter. 
  • Quantum Physics

    Study movement on the atomic and subatomic level.

Chemistry

The study of matter and its properties along with how it interacts with other energy and substances is the basis of chemistry. Some of the most common types of chemical studies include the following.

  • Analytical Chemistry

    Analyze material samples to understand their structure. 
  • Calorimetry

    Study heat in physical and chemical processes. 
  • Inorganic Chemistry

     Study the properties and reactions of inorganic compounds. 
  • Organic Chemistry

    Study the properties, reactions, and mechanics of organic compounds. 
  • Organometallic Chemistry

    Study compounds that contain a bond between a metal and a carbon. 
  • Spectroscopy

    Study the interaction between matter and radiated energy. 
  • Thermochemistry

    Study the relationship of heat generated and chemical action.

Earth Sciences

Earth science is the study of earth and its surroundings.

  • Biogeochemistry

    Study the physical, biological, chemical, and geological processes that govern a natural environment. 
  • Climatology

    Study the earth's climates, especially relating to how global warming and other issues can be mitigated. 
  • Glaciology

    Study glaciers and how they move and change overtime. 
  • Hydrology

    Study the earth's water systems, with a focus on the availability, volume, and quality of water. 
  • Meteorology

    Study the earth's atmosphere and how it impacts weather within a given system. 
  • Pedology

    Study soil for various reasons, including to help date archeological dig sites or identify toxins, chemicals, and debris within an urban area.

3. Social Sciences

When you think of social science you probably think of Civics (or social studies), but it’s much broader and comprehensive than that. It also includes many facets of everyday life in our modern world


Anthropology

The study of humans throughout time

  • Archaeology

    Study of ancient cultures

The Arts

Creative expression through its various forms including;

  • Culinary

    Cooking, preparing, and presenting food
  • Literature

    Written works considered to be works of art due to artistic or intellectual value
  • Performing Arts

     The use of voice, body, or objects for artistic endevours
  • Visual Arts

    Sculpture, painting, drawing, photography. All the stuff you think of as “art”

Business Studies

Study of the many facets of business including;

  • Accounting

    The measurement, recording and reporting of financial and economic information
  • Finance

    The study of investments including theories of risk and return
  • Marketing

    The study of promoting products and services
  • Civics

    Pertains to citizenship and the rights and duties to each other, and the government

Economics

The study of how orgnisations allocate scarce resources

  • Macroeconomics

    Tstudy of the whole economy and its factors
  • Microeconomics

    The study of the decision making of households and their allocation of limited resources
  • Behavioral Economics

    How do human traits like mood, group think, and other emotional, social and psychological factors affect the economic decisions of individuals and institutions

Education

Teaching accumulated human knowledge to others

Geography

The study of the Earth,  and it's land forms.

History

Documenting, researching and teaching things and events of the past

Law 

The study and application of rules and principles in which society is governed

Philosophy

Thinking about general and fundamental problems across every aspect of life including existence, knowledge, reason, values and mind

So there you have it, the types of science including the 3 branches of science of Life, Physical and Social Science and an overview of the topics they cover.


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