Scientists are hard at work exploring research in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and many other areas of scientific knowledge. Regardless of which branches they work in, scientists explore by searching out situations (such as a herd of elephants living in the jungles of Asia) or creating them in a lab (such as a petri dish that contains bacteria). Like the expedition scientists of the 18th century voyages to the Pacific Northwest, they hope to make discoveries that will help us to learn about our universe, our environment, and our own bodies.
Scientists make observations and record what they have noticed. They carefully measure changes, movements, and developments. Scientists make records using numbers, such as weight and temperature. They use images, including drawings and photographs of everything from particles to the identifying markings on a pod of whales. They also use charts and maps, which help them to see patterns in the spread of a virus, the migration of birds, and changes to the global climate.
Sometimes scientists hope to discover something specific, such as a cure for a disease or what causes a tsunami. They develop an idea called a hypothesis, which they try to prove or disprove by conducting research and experiments. For example, if the hypothesis is that a certain vitamin can lower the risk of cancer, the scientists must gather a test group, monitor the rate of cancer in test subjects with and without the vitamin supplement, and examine their data to discover if the hypothesis is correct.