Fact vs. Theory

What is the difference between fact and theory?

Fact and theory are two words that are commonly used in science. A fact is something that can be proven but a theory is a hypothesis that can be proven or disproven. It is an observation based on what can happen or did happen in certain circumstances. For example, Newton developed his theory of gravity based on the fact that when you let something fall it will drop to the ground. This is a fact and is based on observations time after time. The same thing always happens.

A theory is an explanation of why something happens in the way that it does. In science verification is essential in order to offer explanations that people can understand in ordinary terms. The great scientists of the world put forward theories to explain what they observed. These include Newton, Archimedes, Albert Einstein and numerous others.

Facts remain facts and do not change even after centuries. Since the world began the sun has been rising in the east and setting in the west. This is a fact that has not changed for billions of years. Theories, though, can be disproved over time because they are explanations that one comes up with based on the facts that are available. When a theory is based on undisputed facts, then it cannot be disproven.

There are always challenges arising to theories in an attempt to prove that they are incorrect. Sometimes the results are met with opposition by scientists, especially those who came up with the theories in the beginning. Therefore theories have to undergo a regimen of tests and experiments before they are accepted as facts.

One definition of the word theory could be an explanation of a happening when there are other factors that could be involved. A fact is characterized by certainty, but a theory is filled with uncertainty. It is a proven fact that a tsunami can cause death and destruction when it hits land. It would be theory to say that the loss of life in a given area would be lessened if certain warning procedures were to be put in place.