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laws, theories, and hypotheses


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In science, a law is a descriptive principle of nature that holds in all circumstances covered by the wording of the law. There are no loopholes in the laws of nature and any exceptional event that did not comply with the law would require the existing law to be discarded or would have to be described as a miracle. Eponymous laws are named after their discoverers (e.g. Boyle's law); some laws, however, are known by their subject matter (e.g. the law of conservation of mass), while other laws use both the name of the discoverer and the subject matter to describe them (e.g. Newton's law of gravitation).

A description of nature that encompasses more than one law but has not achieved the uncontrovertible status of a law is sometimes called a theory. Theories are often both eponymous and descriptive of the subject matter (e.g. Einstein's theory of relativity and Darwin's theory of evolution).

A hypothesis is a theory or law that retains the suggestion that it may not be universally true. However, some hypotheses about which no doubt still lingers have remained hypotheses (e.g. Avogadro's hypothesis), for no clear reason. Clearly there is a degree of overlap between the three concepts.

Subjects: Chemistry — Physics.


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