What is physics?
Physics is the term used to refer to the science that studies matter, energy, motion, time, and space through fundamental laws. It dates back to when humanity first tried to understand and explain the forces that governed the things around us.
Physics also establishes theoretical approaches, given the formulation and description of laws, as well as practical approaches, given their experimental nature, based on observation as a source of verification. This allows the development and application of scientific methods to respond to universal unknowns.
This scientific branch brings together major ideas that span the main areas of study, developed by the fields’ leaders:
- The law of universal gravitation and classical mechanics, by Isaac Newton.
- The explanation of the nature of electricity and its relation to magnetism, by Michael Faraday.
- The theory of special and general relativity, by Albert Einstein.
- The explanation of thermodynamics, by James Prescott Joule and Sadi Carnot.
- An approach to quantum mechanics in atomic and subatomic physics, by Louis-Victor de Broglie, Werner Karl Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger.
What does physics study?
As an exact science, physics is responsible for studying, understanding, and describing the ways in which the universe operates. This explanation is made through some basic concepts:
- Gravity: it consists of the force of attraction between two or more bodies that have mass. The more mass, the greater the force and reach of its effect.
- Electromagnetism: the force of attraction or repulsion between particles with electrical charges.
- Weak nuclear forces: these consist of the force that exists between fundamental particles; it has low reach and is responsible for radioactivity. It is also known as weak interaction.
- Strong nuclear forces: this is the force of attraction that holds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of an atom, making it stronger than the electromagnetic repulsion between them.
What is the importance of physics?
The knowledge and study of physics is fundamental to understanding how the universe works, as well as everything that surrounds us human beings. This understanding has, over the years, allowed us to develop new technologies.
In addition, our understanding of associated concepts, such as electromagnetism, thermodynamics, mechanics, solid-state physics, and even nuclear physics, has facilitated the development of products that directly affect the dynamics of society today: from the creation of computers and appliances to the development of industry and electricity.
Physics focuses on organizing data, as well as the search for patterns and applying knowledge and techniques to complex situations. It has made it possible for us to understand natural phenomena and behaviors to address current and future problems.
What are the branches or disciplines of physics?
The branches of physics are categorized on the size of the matter being studied, as well as the speed of its movement. Based on this, they are grouped into:
- Classical mechanics: the branch of physics dealing with the study of the behavior of resting macroscopic bodies whose speed is very slow compared to the speed of light. This branch is based on concepts developed by Isaac Newton, so it is also called Newtonian mechanics.
- Relativity: also called relativistic mechanics, it describes both special and general relativity, both formulated by Albert Einstein. Special relativity describes the behavior of bodies moving at a speed close to that of light in the absence of the force of gravity, while general relativity studies the movement of masses in gravitational fields.
- Thermodynamics: the field of physics that looks at heat transfer processes and how they relate to other types of energy. This branch also explains how matter is transformed into any of its phases when exposed to heat.
- Quantum mechanics: this field is responsible for the study of very small systems, such as atoms and elements, in addition to describing their behavior in interacting with three fundamental forces: the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces.