Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to this body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.
Contemporary science is typically subdivided into the natural sciences which study the material world, the social sciences which study people and societies, and the formal sciences like mathematics. The formal sciences are often excluded as they do not depend on empirical observations. Disciplines which use science like engineering and medicine may also be considered to be applied sciences.
From classical antiquity through the 19th century, science as a type of knowledge was more closely linked to philosophy than it is now. In fact, in the West during the early modern period the terms “science” and “natural philosophy” were sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the study of natural phenomena.
In the 17th and 18th centuries scientists increasingly sought to formulate knowledge in terms of laws of nature. Over the course of the 19th century, the word “science” became increasingly associated with the scientific method itself, as a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. It is in the 19th century also that the term scientist began to be applied to those who sought knowledge and understanding of nature.