The term natural science as the way in which different fields of study are defined is determined as much by historical convention as by the present day meaning of the words.
Thus the traditional description of natural science is the study of the physical, nonhuman aspects of the Earth and the universe around us. As a group, the natural sciences are distinguished from theology and the social sciences, on the one hand, and from the arts and humanities on the other. Mathematics is not itself a natural science, but provides many of the core methods for them. Natural sciences generally attempt to explain the workings of the world via natural processes rather than divine processes. The term natural science is also used to identify "science" as a discipline following the scientific method.
Alongside this traditional usage, more recently the words "natural sciences" are sometimes used in a way more closely matching their everyday meaning. In this sense "natural sciences" can be an alternative phrase for biological sciences, involved in biological processes, and are distinguished from the physical sciences (involved in the physical and chemical laws underlying the universe).
Applied sciences and engineering
- The History of Recent Science and Technology
- Reviews of Books About Natural Science This site contains over 50 previously published reviews of books about natural science, plus selected essays on timely topics in natural science.