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(science and technology)
The test of a hypothesis under controlled conditions.



a method of cognition by means of which the phenomena of reality are investigated under controlled and regulated conditions. The difference between an experiment and an observation is that, in the former, certain operations are performed on the object under study. An experiment is based on a theory that determines the experimental procedure and interpretation of the results. The chief goal of many experiments (known as crucial experiments) is to test hypotheses and theoretical predictions that are of fundamental significance. As a form of praxis, an experiment thus functions as a criterion of the truth of scientific knowledge in general.

The experimental method of research was first used in modern times in the natural sciences (for example, by W. Gilbert and Galileo). It was first given a philosophical interpretation in the works of F. Bacon, who also worked out the earliest classification of types of experiments (see Soch., vol. 1, Moscow, 1971, pp. 299–310). The development of experimental scientific activity was accompanied by the epistemological struggle between rationalism and empiricism, which differed in their interpretation of the relationship between empirical and theoretical knowledge. The attempt to overcome the one-sidedness of these two schools of thought was first made by classical German philosophy; it culminated in dialectical materialism, in which the thesis of the unity of theory and experimental praxis expresses in concrete terms the general proposition about the unity of the sensory and the rational, or of the empirical and theoretical levels, in the process of cognition.

Various types of experiments are used in modern science. In the realm of basic research, the simplest type of experiment is the qualitative experiment, which aims at establishing the presence or absence of a theoretically postulated phenomenon. In a measurement experiment, which is more complex, some property of the object is defined in quantitative terms. Still another type of experiment that is commonly used in basic research is called the hypothetical, or mental, experiment. Such an experiment, which belongs to the realm of theoretical knowledge, consists of a set of mental procedures that are unrealizable in practice and are applied to ideal objects. As theoretical models of actual experimental situations, hypothetical experiments seek to determine whether the basic principles of a theory are in agreement.

Applied research makes use of all these different types of experiments, which are designed to test specific theoretical models. Simulation experiments are characteristic of the applied sciences; such experiments use material models that reproduce the essential features of the natural situation or technical system under study. This type of experiment is closely related to the production experiment. Mathematical statistical methods are applied in processing experimental results; a special branch of mathematical statistics investigates the principles underlying the analysis and design of experiments.

Social experimentation, which began in the 1920’s, facilitates the adoption of new forms of social organization and optimal management. Social experiments thus perform a cognitive function and fall within the sphere of social management. A social experiment must take into account the interests of the particular group of people who are the object of the experiment, this object being one of the participants in the experiment, and the investigator himself being part of the situation he is investigating. The content and procedures of social experimentation are also conditioned by society’s legal and ethical norms.


Engels, F. Anti-Dühring. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20.
Engels, F. Dialektika prirody. Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. Materializm i empiriokrititsizm. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18. Chapter2.
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Khramovich, M. A. Nauchnyi eksperiment, ego mesto i rol’ v poznanii. Minsk, 1972.
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Trigg, G. L. Reshaiushchie eksperimenty v sovremennoi fizike. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
Dingier, H. Uber die Geschichte und das Wesen des Experimentes. Munich, 1952.
Experiment und Erfahrung in Wissenschaft und Kunst. Freiburg-Munich, 1963.
Siebel, W. Die Logik des Experiments in den Sozialwissenschaften. Berlin, 1965.
Parthey, H., and D. Wahl. Die experimented Methode in Naturund Gesellschaftswissenschaften. Berlin, 1966.


References in periodicals archive ?
Despite the increasing use of laboratory experiments in teaching meteorology, many teachers and students do not have access to suitable apparatuses and so cannot benefit from them.
In summary, there are good reasons why we should welcome behavioral laboratory experiments as one valid research method into the repertoire used in supply chain management research.
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The BUAV and Animal Aid believe that the same principle applies to all non-human primates and they are calling for that ban to be extended to protect all monkeys from laboratory experiments.
Studies such as Welleford and Owens's interviews lack the drama of laboratory experiments that are conquering the biology of dementia, but bringing the whole person back into studies of aging appears to be a trend in federally sponsored research that will be welcomed by the long-term care field.
In light of the current controversies in political science concerning the empirical testability of formal models, it illustrates the merits of using laboratory experiments to test theories when there is a lack of naturally occurring data or when the available data are tenuous at best.
Inspired by Richard Preston's account of a horribly aggressive virus carried by monkeys shipped to the United States for laboratory experiments, Applebroog's paintings depicted these silent, uncomprehending carriers of a menacing new virus.
A three-pronged approach will be used which combines samples from lithologically identical glaciated and unglaciated catchments, laboratory experiments and a marine sediment core.
In laboratory experiments using budding yeast, the same type used in baking and brewing, scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, developed a new approach to determine the location of unrepaired breaks in DNA.
Robinson says that she wasn't thinking about repellents when she started her laboratory experiments on foraging trails in pharaoh's ants (Monomorium pharaonis).
A description of Green Organic Chemistry: Tools, Strategies and Laboratory Experiments, a textbook/laboratory manual released in 2004 for the undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory, is available from this page as well.

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