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This module presents the basic idea of a model to be used in the physical sciences, social sciences, and engineering. Perhaps also in the humanities.


The concept of a model is very close to that of an analogy. It is so fundamental to our thought, decisionmaking, and problem solving processes that it is difficult to isolate and study; however, to accomplish the goal of simulatingand understanding complicated social systems, it is essential that we do understand the concept of a model and develop methods forconstructing them. Like many basic concepts, it is best described by examples:

Physical model

To the average person the word "model" might bring to mind someone modeling a dress, or perhaps a photographer'smodel, or even a model airplane or car. Let's consider these cases. The usual reason for looking at a dress on a model is to imaginewhat the dress would look like on one's self without having to buy it to find out. The photographer uses his camera to make a likenessof the model in the form of a picture. The model plane or car allows one to enjoy the details and perspectives of the modelwithout the problems and expense of actual ownership of the airplane or car. Indeed, one can try experiments on the models thatwould be very difficult or expensive to actually perform on the real thing.

Consider the methods and purposes behind the architect's model of a building, the car designer's prototype of anew design, or the aerodynamicist's wind tunnel model of a new airplane. As one considers what is common to these ideas of a modeland what purposes are served, perhaps the concept begins to take shape.

Mental model

Rather than further pursue the various types of physical models, let us consider another less obvious form ofmodel, the mental model. For example, the merchant who mentally speculates: "if I increase the price of this article from x to y,the buyers will still buy enough that I will come out ahead," and the mother who says, "if I spank my child for leaving his toys out,he will stop", are both using intuitive mental models of incredibly complicated economic, sociological, and psychological systems thateven experts don't agree on. Freud, Skinner, Erikson and others have all produced models of human psychology that much of moderntherapy and advertising are based on. Indeed, reflection indicates that much of human thought is involved with mental model making andthe use of these models for decision making, problem solving, or merely pleasure.

The politician who tells the voters what will happen if certain policies are followed, the advertiser who tellsthe potential buyer the results of using his product, and the preacher who predicts the consequences of evil to his followers areall involved with the building and use of mental and verbal models.

Even the simple speculation of "if I wear these clothes I will look nice" is based on a model of how one'sfriends will respond to one's dress. Indeed, most processes of experience can be viewed as model building, experimentation, modelmodification, etc. Further reflection shows how much of one's mental activities can be viewed as involved with modeling and howmany academic disciplines are based on models, even though the concept and process is poorly understood and seldom explicitlydiscussed.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Dynamics of social systems. OpenStax CNX. Aug 07, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10587/1.9
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