The fundamentals of physics is usually taught to 9th grade students. However, 11th or 12th grade students are usually encouraged to take up another course on physics. The second course is much more advanced the first one they took as this involves the use of more advanced math. By this time, students are already starting to choose a major to take in college and because of the interesting approach their teacher took in teaching physics, some students suddenly find themselves wanting to pursue a college degree in physics. Although, some students have a hard time grasping the concepts of physics and keeping up with their classmates. This essay shares just how interesting physics is and how one encounters it every day.
What is Physics?
Physics is basically the study of everything in the universe. The study of physics encompasses studying everything from the gargantuan objects to the most miniscule of atoms in the universe. Physics is one of the most fundamental of all sciences and it is also where other studies collide. Some ideas of physics can also be used in other sciences or fields of study like engineering. If a discovery is to be made, the physics community would be called upon to study it further and in order to prove its existence and determine that object’s function and what it can possibly be transformed into.
Engineering and technology relies heavily on physics. Without physics, engineers would not be able to design structures that are disaster-proof or earthquake resistant, high quality aircraft and spacecraft, and creating communication links for computers. Physics kind of governs the field of engineering as an understanding of physics is needed to solve complex engineering problems and successful invent a new machine or improve an existing thing. The same thing goes for technology as advancements would not be made possible if not for the science of physics. High tech RFID technology, optical, and laser surgeries would not have been invented if not for physics.
Physics, as a branch of science, is traditionally defined as the study of matter, energy, and the relation between them. The interaction between matter and energy is found everywhere. In order for matter to move, it requires some form of energy. However, physics is also an experimental science because physicists get to be the ones to observe newly discovered phenomena and objects. Physicists are also the ones who, while observing a certain phenomenon, does their best to find a pattern that is in relation to the phenomenon
The study of physics, quite obviously, is far from easy. Oftentimes, studying physics can be frustrating, very challenging, and quite difficult to grasp. However, once a physicist gets an answer, it really feels very much rewarding and fulfilling. Physics answers the most fundamental and childlike questions that people have. Physics is the branch of science one should turn to when wondering about the sky’s color, how a satellite stays in orbit, how specific things move, how a phone gets charged. Physics is a way to gain knowledge of and understand everything humans have ever been curious about.
But even after all that, physics is actually a branch of science that is hard to define with accuracy. Physics is ever-changing due to the new discoveries and developments in those discoveries. Physics changes every now and then and that is why there is no definite definition for this. There will only be an introduction as to the idea of what physics is, and not a precise definition that will pinpoint what physics exactly is.
This is because as physicists discover the answers to their theories, new questions tend to pop up. This in turn translates to a new set of questions needing answers to, which will then spout even more questions after being answered. Physics is an endless cycle of discovery, innovation, and theoretical questions. This is the reason why physics can be so interesting to study no matter its difficulty and complication. The process of physics is a beauty that forces physics itself to not be given a general definition but instead a timeline of what it has been what it has become in the present day.
Even today, physics is as exciting and interesting as ever. The animated conversation between physicists and the general public about what interests them and anything their curiosity touches goes on and it shows no sign of stopping. In different ways, physics continues to prove that it is all around us every day. As a child, if you have ever wondered about things like why the sky is blue, how 3D printers can make virtually anything, how a boomerang flies, how food is manufactured, why waves crash on the beach, how the internet and phones work, and how comets and asteroids know where they are going, then you have already been wondering about things that concern physics.
These are the kind of things that physicists study in their day to day lives. They do not get tired of it at all for they have curious minds who are inclined on learning and discovering new things every day. Physicists like to ask questions about newly discovered things or something of interest to them that they want to find developments for. Physicists study physics in an attempt to find answers for almost everything that exists in the universe.
Of course, the study of physics as known today would not have been the way it is if not for the great minds who are behind incredible discoveries and theories. Without these great physicists paving the way for modern physicists, developments and new findings in relation to gravity would not have happened recently. And it also goes without saying that physics would ultimately not exist if not for the first Father of Modern Physics, Galileo Galilei.
- Galileo Galilei – The Father of Modern Physics’ most significant contribution to the field is the experiments he conducted in the Tower of Pisa in relation to falling bodies. He found that a free falling object’s acceleration is independent of its weight Galileo Galilei’s theory may be incomplete, but it has a range of validity. Galileo Galilei also made a remarkable observation and contribution to astronomy as he was the one who discovered sunspot and he stood against Aristotle and the church’s teachings. He believes that all the planets revolve around the sun as opposed to the Earth being the center of the universe which translates to everything revolving around the planet.
- Albert Einstein – Albert Einstein is one of the three Fathers of Modern Physics. He received a Nobel Prize in physics but not for his famous theory of relativity, the very cornerstone of modern science, but instead for his work on the photoelectric effect. Albert Einstei’s general theory of relativity affected the people’s understanding of time and space and his specil theory of relativity is highly based on the speed of light. Albert Einstein is also the one behind the equation E=mc2.
- Isaac Newton – He is the third Father of Modern Physics. Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion is his most famous contribution to physics and it is also the theory that students recall the most when asked. Newton’s Three Laws of Motion are: Objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force, force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration, and for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apart from this, he also contributed the law of gravitation when he observed an apple falling from the tree which made him think about the forces of nature acting upon it that made the apple fall.
- James Clerk Maxwell – This physicist is the one everybody should take for their cellphones and colored televisions for it is because of him that this technological evolution is made possible. James Clerk Maxwell is one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century and is considered on par with Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. He contributed much to physics namely: electromagnetism, optics, kinetics, thermodynamics, structure of a bridge, and dimensional analysis. He is also the one behind the theory behind Saturn’s rings. With the help of his wife, he produced the first colored photograph due to his interest in optics and color vision.
- Niels Bohr – Niels Bohr’s greatest contribution to physics is the atomic model. He showed the structure of atoms which depicts a similar structure to the Solar System. Wherein a positively charged nucleus is being surrounded by negatively charged electrons which travels in circular orbits around the nucleus due to electromagnetic forces. He also contributed to the development of the quantum theory and quantum mechanics.
Branches of Physics
As mentioned earlier, physics cannot be given a specific definition and so is only given a timeline or description of where it is at the moment. The same applies for the branches of physics as it is ever changing because of the developments in physics. The branches of physics have been expanding rapidly because of the technology physicists now have at their disposal unlike in the early days where the brilliant scientists are somewhat limited in terms of resources and technology. Nowadays, physics has two main branches with a number of subcategories listed under those branches. The two main branches are classical physics and modern physics. Their subcategories will be discussed briefly below.
- Mechanics – The study of mechanics in physics involves the motion of bodies and forces that act upon it or is responsible for the object’s movement or the object being at rest. Mechanics eventually leads to different subjects in which forces of nature are involved like gravity, magnetism, and electricity.
- Waves or Acoustics – This sub branch of physics deals with sound and concerns itself with how sound is produced, controlled, transmitted, and received. It studies the mechanical vibrations that is produced by sound waves.
- Thermodynamics – Thermodynamics discusses heat, temperature, and energy. This study of physics is concerned with the transfer of energy from one thing to another.
- Electromagnetism – This deals with the physics between electricity and magnetism. It observes the science of force fields and charge. It also deals with both electric and magnetic fields.
- Optics – Optics is concerned with light and the changes it undergoes and produces when interacted with other objects. There are two branches oh optical physics which are physical optics, the one which deals with light’s nature and properties, and geometrical optics which involves the principles of image-forming objects like mirrors and lenses.
- Relativity – Relativity is borne from Albert Einstein’s special relativity and general relativity theories. This deals with the concepts of time, matter, space, gravity, and energy.
- Quantum Mechanics – This study of modern physics deals with atoms and light. It describes the properties and behaviors of atoms when interacting with other properties.
- Particle Physics – Particle physics is the study of subatomic particles which includes antimatter. Quantum mechanics is involved with the study of particle physics.
- Molecular and Condensed Matter – This branch of physics involves thermal, optical, electrical, elastic, and magnetic properties of both solid and liquid objects.
- Astrophysics – Astrophysics is a mix of physics and chemistry in order to explain objects in the known universe. It is concerned with the properties and structure of celestial objects.
- Nuclear Physics – Nuclear physics deals with the structure of the atomic nucleus and the radiation coming from its unstable nuclei. Studying nuclear physics involves an understanding of the quantum theory.
Physics is a vast field of science which relates to much of what people encounter in their day-to-day lives. Imagine, even the use of cellphones, which is quite essential these days, is linked to the study of physics. The way things are made, how things work, and its origins can be traced back to physics. Physics is able to answer many of the curious and seemingly random questions we think of in our childhood days and in our free time.
Physics is indeed interesting, although it may be a difficult subject. Thanks to brilliant scientists, people are learning more and more about the universe and everything in it with each passing day. Each discovery is important and every development shall be celebrated. Physicists should not be taken lightly for people owe significant scientific advancements to them and their wit. The recent development to Einstein’s theory of relativity and the landing of the Perseverance Rover on the planet Mars would not have happened if not for them. Furthermore, technology would not have been as advanced if not for the physicists’ findings.
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Young, H., & Freedman, R. (2019). University Physics with Modern Physics (15th ed.). Pearson.