What Is a Scientific Model and in What Ways Is It Useful?

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The scientific model is "the generation of a physical, conceptual, or mathematical representation of a real phenomenon that is difficult to observe directly," according to Encyclopædia Britannica. In layman's terms, a scientific model is just a physical manifestation that combines data and observations with creativity to predict or explain occurrences in nature.

Scientific modeling is used in a variety of disciplines, ranging from ecology to chemistry to astronomy. Determining the purpose of the model depends on which discipline it is being used in. For example, the double-helix model of DNA is derived from experimental data and serves as a visualization of DNA and its structure. Other models act as representations of abstract concepts and hypothetical behaviors. Most common among this type of modeling is predictive modeling, which is important to society. Meteorologists use predictive models to forecast weather. Government health officials also use predictive modeling to estimate epidemics and disease progression. No model, however, is ever complete or accurate. Scientists constantly make adjustments based on new observations and findings. Even with such adjustments, all variables and instances cannot be accounted for, leaving room for improvement on a consistent basis. However, no matter how many adjustments are made to a scientific model, people must remember to not over complicate it, or they risk defeating its purpose.