Physics

Various examples of physical phenomena

Physics is the natural science that studies matter,[a] its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force.[2] Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, with its main goal being to understand how the universe behaves.[b][3][4][5] A scientist who specializes in the field of physics is called a physicist.

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and, through its inclusion of astronomy, perhaps the oldest.[6] Over much of the past two millennia, physics, chemistry, biology, and certain branches of mathematics were a part of natural philosophy, but during the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century these natural sciences emerged as unique research endeavors in their own right.[c] Physics intersects with many interdisciplinary areas of research, such as biophysics and quantum chemistry, and the boundaries of physics are not rigidly defined. New ideas in physics often explain the fundamental mechanisms studied by other sciences[3] and suggest new avenues of research in these and other academic disciplines such as mathematics and philosophy.

Advances in physics often enable advances in new technologies. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism, solid-state physics, and nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products that have dramatically transformed modern-day society, such as television, computers, domestic appliances, and nuclear weapons;[3] advances in thermodynamics led to the development of industrialization; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.

  1. ^ Feynman, Leighton & Sands 1963, p. I-2 "If, in some cataclysm, all [] scientific knowledge were to be destroyed [save] one sentence [...] what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is [...] that all things are made up of atoms – little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another ..."
  2. ^ Maxwell 1878, p. 9 "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of events."
  3. ^ a b c Young & Freedman 2014, p. 1 "Physics is one of the most fundamental of the sciences. Scientists of all disciplines use the ideas of physics, including chemists who study the structure of molecules, paleontologists who try to reconstruct how dinosaurs walked, and climatologists who study how human activities affect the atmosphere and oceans. Physics is also the foundation of all engineering and technology. No engineer could design a flat-screen TV, an interplanetary spacecraft, or even a better mousetrap without first understanding the basic laws of physics. (...) You will come to see physics as a towering achievement of the human intellect in its quest to understand our world and ourselves."
  4. ^ Young & Freedman 2014, p. 2 "Physics is an experimental science. Physicists observe the phenomena of nature and try to find patterns that relate these phenomena."
  5. ^ Holzner 2006, p. 7 "Physics is the study of your world and the world and universe around you."
  6. ^ Krupp 2003
  7. ^ Cajori 1917, pp. 48–49


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