Is the object of an experiment a variable?

  • #1
Baho Ilok
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Is the object of an experiment a variable?
 

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  • #2
fresh_42
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Is the object of an experiment a variable?
Usually not, since an object is normally not changed. One or more attributes of an object are the subject of an experiment and thus a variable.
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
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Is the object of an experiment a variable?

As an experimentalist, this question makes no sense.

Zz.
 
  • #4
Baho Ilok
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As an experimentalist, this question makes no sense.

Zz.
Sometimes you have to ask stupid questions to learn they're stupid. Which I believe, in a sense, is the essence of experimental study.
 
  • #5
Baho Ilok
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Usually not, since an object is normally not changed. One or more attributes of an object are the subject of an experiment and thus a variable.
But in a way, can't the experimenter also vary the object of the experiment, making it also a variable? Like a toxicity test on zebra fish, daphnia magna, etc.
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
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Sometimes you have to ask stupid questions to learn they're stupid. Which I believe, in a sense, is the essence of experimental study.

No, it is not.

Experiments are often VERY expensive to run, to construct, and to maintain. No one will want to fund or do experiments when the questions being asked are vague, meaningless, and undefined.

Find a single experiment being done today in which the measurement being made are as vague as what you are asking.

Zz.
 
  • #7
Baho Ilok
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No, it is not.

Experiments are often VERY expensive to run, to construct, and to maintain. No one will want to fund or do experiments when the questions being asked are vague, meaningless, and undefined.

Find a single experiment being done today in which the measurement being made are as vague as what you are asking.

Zz.
The question I asked may be meaningless to you since obviously you know quite well the answer, but to us that don't it can make complete sense. Asking what lies beyond the edge of the Earth may make absolutely no sense today but thousands of years ago it could have been a million dollar question.
 
  • #8
ZapperZ
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The question I asked may be meaningless to you since obviously you know quite well the answer, but to us that don't it can make complete sense. Asking what lies beyond the edge of the Earth may make absolutely no sense today but thousands of years ago it could have been a million dollar question.

You don't seem to get it.

Asking "Is the object of an experiment a variable?" is vague because it doesn't exactly state what is being measured! It is made worse when you did not provide any kind of elaboration on what exactly you mean, or what exactly you are looking for.

Any experiment requires that we make a measurement of a property of something. We don't know what "dark matter" exactly is. However, we know of several possibilities, and each of these possibilities make quantitative prediction of certain values related to how these "dark matter" interact. In other words, we know what to look for and what quantity to measure!

Now, knowing that, look again at your original question. Does it still make sense to you? What exactly does it mean that an "object" in an experiment is a "variable"? What property of that object is being measured here that makes the object itself being a "variable"?

In science, the questions that we ask can be as important as the answers that we seek. Often the question defines and frames the nature of the answers that are relevant. So it is extremely important that care and thought are given to such questions.

Zz.
 
  • #9
symbolipoint
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You don't seem to get it.

Asking "Is the object of an experiment a variable?" is vague because it doesn't exactly state what is being measured! It is made worse when you did not provide any kind of elaboration on what exactly you mean, or what exactly you are looking for.

Any experiment requires that we make a measurement of a property of something. We don't know what "dark matter" exactly is. However, we know of several possibilities, and each of these possibilities make quantitative prediction of certain values related to how these "dark matter" interact. In other words, we know what to look for and what quantity to measure!

Now, knowing that, look again at your original question. Does it still make sense to you? What exactly does it mean that an "object" in an experiment is a "variable"? What property of that object is being measured here that makes the object itself being a "variable"?

In science, the questions that we ask can be as important as the answers that we seek. Often the question defines and frames the nature of the answers that are relevant. So it is extremely important that care and thought are given to such questions.

Zz.
Two basic kinds of people are in this world: The scientific people and the not-scientific people. Some of the non-scientific people has a small amount of Science education and some have none. MAYBE Baho Ilak is one of the non-scienftific people. He just wants to ask what seems like a very basic and good question, to him.
 
  • #10
ZapperZ
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Two basic kinds of people are in this world: The scientific people and the not-scientific people. Some of the non-scientific people has a small amount of Science education and some have none. MAYBE Baho Ilak is one of the non-scienftific people. He just wants to ask what seems like a very basic and good question, to him.

And the non-scientific people have this amazing opportunity to go into a world that most people are not familiar with and do not have access to - the world where science is practiced. It is an opportunity to realize how many aspect of our lives are really not as well-defined and specific as what is required in science.

Zz.
 
  • #11
symbolipoint
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Is the object of an experiment a variable?
I would like to say, "yes", but I would prefer to say two things:

  1. Sometimes yes and sometimes no; since the experiement may either be to look for a relationship between variables, or the presence versus absense of something.
  2. What specific experiments you mean?
 
  • #12
Baho Ilok
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5
You don't seem to get it.

Asking "Is the object of an experiment a variable?" is vague because it doesn't exactly state what is being measured! It is made worse when you did not provide any kind of elaboration on what exactly you mean, or what exactly you are looking for.

Any experiment requires that we make a measurement of a property of something. We don't know what "dark matter" exactly is. However, we know of several possibilities, and each of these possibilities make quantitative prediction of certain values related to how these "dark matter" interact. In other words, we know what to look for and what quantity to measure!

Now, knowing that, look again at your original question. Does it still make sense to you? What exactly does it mean that an "object" in an experiment is a "variable"? What property of that object is being measured here that makes the object itself being a "variable"?

In science, the questions that we ask can be as important as the answers that we seek. Often the question defines and frames the nature of the answers that are relevant. So it is extremely important that care and thought are given to such questions.

Zz.
I don't doubt any of the things you have said so far, mainly because I assume you are an experienced researcher possibly with years of experience and what you have said made complete sense. However, what I'm getting at here is that it would have been more helpful for you to have just constructively pointed out the error(s) in my initial question or asked for some clarification to help me ask the question better instead of just saying that my question makes no sense period. I asked the question because I wanted it to make sense, not for someone to point out to me that it doesn't.
 
  • #13
symbolipoint
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I don't doubt any of the things you have said so far, mainly because I assume you are an experienced researcher possibly with years of experience and what you have said made complete sense. However, what I'm getting at here is that it would have been more helpful for you to have just constructively pointed out the error(s) in my initial question or asked for some clarification to help me ask the question better instead of just saying that my question makes no sense period. I asked the question because I wanted it to make sense, not for someone to point out to me that it doesn't.
Understandable. Your question was simple, on the surface, but a later post explained a little bit of difference between scientific people and non-scientific people. Maybe you can now ask a better question. Saw point #2 in the previous posting?
 
  • #14
Baho Ilok
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Two basic kinds of people are in this world: The scientific people and the not-scientific people. Some of the non-scientific people has a small amount of Science education and some have none. MAYBE Baho Ilak is one of the non-scienftific people. He just wants to ask what seems like a very basic and good question, to him.
Thank you for being more understanding. It's embarrassing to admit but I do identify as one of the scientific people, however I am still new. I have much to learn and I really appreciate your constructive responses.
 
  • #15
Baho Ilok
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I would like to say, "yes", but I would prefer to say two things:

  1. Sometimes yes and sometimes no; since the experiement may either be to look for a relationship between variables, or the presence versus absense of something.
  2. What specific experiments you mean?
Ah I think I get it now. So if I understand correctly, objects can be considered a variable if the experiment is done to find relationships between variables?
 
  • #16
symbolipoint
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Ah I think I get it now. So if I understand correctly, objects can be considered a variable if the experiment is done to find relationships between variables?
Object? Variable?

A variable is a number, often but not always, a changeable number.
 
  • #17
Baho Ilok
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Object? Variable?

A variable is a number, often but not always, a changeable number.
Oh I'm sorry, I don't understand quite well the definitions. In my current understanding, a variable is anything that can vary, controllable or not. So if in an experiment, the objective is to measure responses of different organisms to being exposed to a certain compound, the organisms (which I believe are considered the objects?) can be thought of as a variable. Or is it not?
 
  • #18
symbolipoint
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Oh I'm sorry, I don't understand quite well the definitions. In my current understanding, a variable is anything that can vary, controllable or not. So if in an experiment, the objective is to measure responses of different organisms to being exposed to a certain compound, the organisms (which I believe are considered the objects?) can be thought of as a variable. Or is it not?
No.

Other than that, can you be a little more specific about this example of an experiment, or other examples of experiments?
 
  • #19
Baho Ilok
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Okay.

We have 6 target surface water sites. We measured several water quality parameters at different months and the relative abundances of an emerging contaminant (X) to try and understand how water quality can affect its proliferation. So our tabulation of the data, one column is the site, one is the month, and the rest are for the values of each water quality parameter and the abundance of X.

I just wanted to be able to know if we can consider location as an independent variable since they were selected, and thus in a sense was varied. Or are they even variables?
 
  • #20
symbolipoint
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Okay.

We have 6 target surface water sites. We measured several water quality parameters at different months and the relative abundances of an emerging contaminant (X) to try and understand how water quality can affect its proliferation. So our tabulation of the data, one column is the site, one is the month, and the rest are for the values of each water quality parameter and the abundance of X.

I just wanted to be able to know if we can consider location as an independent variable since they were selected, and thus in a sense was varied. Or are they even variables?
Just my opinion but Different Location is a different case, and I would not call this as a variable.
 
  • #21
Baho Ilok
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Just my opinion but Different Location is a different case, and I would not call this as a variable.
I think I get it now. Thank you so much for your patience!
 
  • #22
fresh_42
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But in a way, can't the experimenter also vary the object of the experiment, making it also a variable? Like a toxicity test on zebra fish, daphnia magna, etc.
No. It is the attribute that changes, not the object - in the above case "being alive". Even if we consider experiments, where the object is destroyed like in particle accelerators, we only consider the attributes as variables: energy, spin, charge. The lead atom we smashed doesn't become a variable, its attributes do. It is important to distinguish them, as it applies to many more cases. E.g. if you have to staff a project team, you don't select persons, but their attributes (qualifications). If you analyze a process, the predicate (action) is important, not the subject (who).
 

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