Definitions for scientific law

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  1. Scientific law

    A scientific law is a statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspect of the world. A scientific law always applies under the same conditions, and implies that there is a causal relationship involving its elements. Factual and well-confirmed statements like "Mercury is liquid at standard temperature and pressure" are considered to be too specific to qualify as scientific laws. A central problem in the philosophy of science, going back to David Hume, is that of distinguishing causal relationships from principles that arise due to constant conjunction. Laws differ from scientific theories in that they do not posit a mechanism or explanation of phenomena: they are merely distillations of the results of repeated observation. As such, a law is limited in applicability to circumstances resembling those already observed, and may be found to be false when extrapolated. Ohm's law only applies to linear networks, Newton's law of universal gravitation only applies in weak gravitational fields, the early laws of aerodynamics such as Bernoulli's principle do not apply in case of compressible flow such as occurs in transonic and supersonic flight, Hooke's law only applies to strain below the elastic limit, etc. These laws remain useful, but only under the conditions where they apply.

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