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What’s the difference between a scientific law and theory? - Matt Anticole

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Chat with a friend about an established scientific theory, and she might reply, “Well, that’s just a theory.” But a conversation about an established scientific law rarely ends with “Well, that’s just a law.” Why is that? What is the difference between a theory and a law... and is one “better”? Matt Anticole shows why science needs both laws and theories to understand the whole picture.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Matt Anticole
  • Producer Zedem Media
  • Director Michael Kalopedis
  • Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Andria Pourouti
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Top 10 Most Famous Scientific Theories That Turned out to be Wrong is a link to a video that discusses ten scientific ideas that have fallen out of favor. If you’d like to learn a little more about some of the ‘wrong way’ detours science has taken over the years, watch this video to learn about them and how we eventually realized there are explanations available.

Need a little review about the difference between a scientific law and a scientific theory? Visit this site. Understanding Science also has some great information on the differences between hypotheses, theories and laws. For another visual lesson on this topic, visit this site: Khan Academy.

Fascinated by Mendeleev’s theories? Watch this TED Ed lesson: The genius of Mendeleev’s periodic table.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Matt Anticole
  • Producer Zedem Media
  • Director Michael Kalopedis
  • Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Andria Pourouti
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • See more