Which of the following statements most correctly defines a hypothesis?
Okay, so, we’ve been given four options here. And we need to pick the one out of these four that most correctly matches the definition of hypothesis. So, let’s go through them one by one starting with option A.
A hypothesis is the measurement of some phenomenon.
Now measuring some phenomenon is exactly what we do when we conduct an experiment. Depending on whether the experiment is qualitative or quantitative, we may gather numerical data about this phenomenon or descriptive data about the phenomenon. And in this instance, the word phenomenon is being used as a general word to describe something that happens in our universe. Whether that might be a ball falling under the influence of gravity or a star exploding in a mind-blowing event a few million light-years away. But the point here is that the measurement of some phenomenon is an experiment, rather than a hypothesis. So, option A is not what we’re looking for here. Let’s move onto option B then.
A hypothesis is the act of noticing that some phenomenon seems to occur.
Well, when a scientist, or for that matter anyone, notices that some phenomenon is happening, is occurring, then that is said to be an observation. The scientist, or the person, doing the noticing has observed that that phenomenon occurs. And so, option B is the definition of an observation not a hypothesis. So, this is not the answer to our question either. Let’s move on to option C then.
A hypothesis is a prediction about the observation of some phenomenon.
Well, this option is not the definition of a hypothesis either because we make a prediction about the observation of some phenomenon based on a hypothesis. In other words, let’s say that a scientist observes a phenomenon. And in an attempt to explain that phenomenon, they come up with a hypothesis. In order to check whether or not their hypothesis is true, one thing that the scientist can do is to come up with a prediction about some other phenomenon happening based on their hypothesis. So, option C is not the correct answer to our question, which brings us on to option d.
A hypothesis is a possible explanation of some phenomenon.
And alluding to what we were talking about just a moment ago, that exactly is what a hypothesis is. Let’s say a scientist observes a phenomenon happening that hasn’t yet been explained. For example, at some point in the past, somebody would’ve observed an object falling towards the ground. And at that time, because there was no theory of gravity, there will be no explanation for it. So, in order to try and explain the phenomenon of objects falling towards the ground, a scientist may have come up with a hypothesis.
And that hypothesis may have been something along the lines of, the Earth acts like a giant suction machine because it seems to pull everything towards it. Now this is the hypothesis of the scientist. Whether or not it’s true is irrelevant. The fact is that the hypothesis is a possible explanation of this phenomenon. And going forward the scientist will have to try and test that hypothesis to see if it really does explain everything that we see around us and not just this one particular phenomenon whilst breaking down in every other case. But anyways, so, we found the answer to our question. A hypothesis is a possible explanation of some phenomenon.