What is physics

What is Physics? Physics is a natural science based on experiments, measurements and mathematical analysis with the purpose of finding quantitative physical laws for everything from the nanoworld of the microcosmos to the planets, solar systems and galaxies that occupy the macrocosmos. The laws of nature can be used to predict the behaviour of the world and all kinds of machinery. Many of the everyday technological inventions that we now take for granted resulted from discoveries in physics. The basic laws in physics are universal, but physics in our time is such a vast field that many subfields are almost regarded as separate sciences. The early Greeks established the first quantitative physical laws, such as Archimedes' descriptions of the principle of levers and the buoyancy of bodies in water. But they did not actually conduct experiments, and physics as science stagnated for many centuries. By the 17th century, however, Galileo Galilei and later Issac Newton helped pioneer the use of mathematics as a fundamental tool in physics, which led to advances in describing the motion of heavenly bodies, the laws of gravity and the three laws of motion. The laws of electricity, magnetism and electromechanical waves were developed in the 1800s by Faraday and Maxwell, in particular, while many others contributed to our understanding of optics and thermodynamics. Modern physics can be said to have started around the turn of the 20th century, with the discovery of X-rays (Röntgen 1895), radioactivity (Becquerel 1896), the quantum hypothesis (Planck 1900), relativity (Einstein 1905) and atomic theory (Bohr 1913). Quantum mechanics (Heisenberg and Schrödinger), beginning in 1926, also gave scientists a better understanding of chemistry and solid state physics, which in turn has led to new materials and better electronic and optical components. Nuclear and elementary particle physics have become important fields, and particle physics is now the basis for astrophysics and cosmology. What Is Physics? Most people hear the word 'physics' and run for cover. But it's not just for rocket scientists! You are surrounded by physics all the time, and whether you realize it or not, you use physics every day. Physics, the study of matter and energy, is an ancient and broad field of science. The word 'physics' comes from the Greek 'knowledge of nature,' and in general, the field aims to analyze and understand the natural phenomena of the universe. One thing that may come to mind when you think of physics is the many scientific laws, which are statements describing phenomena that have been repeatedly tested and confirmed. This is actually an important part of physics. Physicists perform and repeat experiments, sometimes ad nauseam, to formulate these laws and explain how our universe works. These laws (such as gravity and Newton's laws of motion) are so thoroughly tested that they are accepted as 'truths,' and they can be used to help us predict how other things will behave. Because physics explains natural phenomena in the universe, it's often considered to be the most fundamental science. It provides a basis for all other sciences - without physics, you couldn't have biology, chemistry, or anything else! Physics Is Old Physics has been around for a long, long time. We consider the Ancient Greeks to be the 'founders' of early physics, as they pushed for a better understanding of the natural world around them. This includes some major players you are likely familiar with, like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Modern physics came centuries later, with folks like Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton during the 15- and 1600s. There were many critical scientific breakthroughs during this time as people discovered more and more about our universe. In fact, much of the knowledge we take for granted was discovered during this Scientific Revolution. For example, Copernicus was the first to demonstrate that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. Galileo described many fundamental physical concepts, but he also made many astronomical discoveries, such as sunspots and planetary satellites, by perfecting the telescope. Physics certainly wouldn't be the same without Isaac Newton, who you will no doubt learn much about in your physics studies. He is probably most famous for his three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Newton is also credited with inventing calculus, though you may or may not agree with that being a good thing! How Physics Works Physics is the scientific study of matter and energy and how they interact with each other. This energy can take the form of motion, light, electricity, radiation, gravity — just about anything, honestly. Physics deals with matter on scales ranging from sub-atomic particles (i.e. the particles that make up the atom and the particles that make up those particles) to stars and even entire galaxies How Physics Works As an experimental science, physics utilizes the scientific method to formulate and test hypotheses that are based on observation of the natural world. The goal of physics is to use the results of these experiments to formulate scientific laws, usually expressed in the language of mathematics, which can then be used to predict other phenomena. When you talk about theoretical physics, you are speaking of the area of physics that is focused on developing these laws and using them to extrapolate into new predictions. These predictions from theoretical physicists then create new questions that experimental physicists then develop experiments to test. In this way, the theoretical and experimental components of physics (and science in general) interact with each other and push each other forward to develop new areas of knowledge. The Role of Physics in Other Fields of Science In a broader sense, physics can be seen as the most fundamental of the natural sciences. Chemistry, for example, can be viewed as a complex application of physics, as it focuses on the interaction of energy and matter in chemical systems. We also know that biology is, at its heart, an application of chemical properties in living things, which means that it is also, ultimately, ruled by the physical laws. Of course, we don't think of these other fields as part of physics. When we investigate something scientifically, we look for patterns at the scale that is most appropriate. Though every living thing is acting in a way that is fundamentally driven by the particles of which it is composed, trying to explain an entire ecosystem in terms of the behavior of fundamental particles would be diving into an unhelpful level of detail. Even when looking at the behavior of a liquid, we look in general at the properties of the fluid as a whole through fluid dynamics, rather than paying particular attention to the behavior of the individual particles. Major Concepts in Physics Because physics covers so much area, it is divided into several specific fields of study, such as electronics, quantum physics, astronomy, and biophysics. Why Is Physics (Or Any Science) Important? Physics includes the study of astronomy, and in many ways, astronomy was humanity's first organized field of science. Ancient peoples looked to the stars and recognized patterns there, then began using mathematical precision to make predictions about what would happen in the heavens based on those patterns. Whatever flaws there were in these specific predictions, the method of trying to understand the unknown was a worthy one. Trying to understand the unknown is still a central problem in human life. Despite all of our advancements in science and technology, being a human being means that you are able to understand some things and also that there are things you do not understand. Science teaches you a methodology for approaching the unknown and asking questions that get to the heart of what is unknown and how to make it known. Physics, in particular, focuses on some of the most fundamental of questions about our physical universe. Pretty much the only more fundamental questions that could be asked fall in the philosophical realm of "metaphysics" (named for being literally "beyond physics'), but the problem is that these questions are so fundamental that many of the questions in the metaphysical realm remain unresolved even after centuries or millennia of inquiry by most of history's greatest minds. Physics, on the other hand, has resolved many fundamental issues, even though those resolutions tend to open up whole new types of questions