Definition and Importance of Physics
- Physics is the study of the fundamental constituents of the universe, their motion, behavior, energy, and force.
- It is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines.
- The main goal of physics is to understand how the universe behaves.
- Physicists are scientists who specialize in the field of physics.
- Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and intersects with many interdisciplinary areas of research.
- Advances in physics have led to the development of technologies such as television, computers, and nuclear weapons.
- Physics plays a crucial role in the development of new technologies.
- Understanding the fundamental mechanisms studied in physics can lead to new avenues of research in other academic disciplines.
History of Physics
- The word 'physics' comes from the Latin 'physica' and the Greek 'phusikḗ,' both meaning the study of nature.
- Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Greeks had knowledge of astronomy and celestial bodies.
- Natural philosophy, which rejected non-naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena, laid the foundation for physics.
- During the Middle Ages, physics continued to advance in the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world.
- The criticisms of Aristotelian physics by philosophers like Philoponus influenced later scientists like Galileo during the Scientific Revolution.
- Ancient civilizations like the Sumerians, Egyptians, and the Indus Valley Civilisation had predictive knowledge of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars.
- The stars and planets were often worshipped as gods.
- Observations of the stars laid the foundation for later astronomy.
- Western astronomy can be traced back to Mesopotamia, and Greek astronomers provided names for constellations still used today.
- Ancient astronomers left monuments showing knowledge of the constellations and celestial bodies.
- Natural philosophy originated in Greece during the Archaic period.
- Pre-Socratic philosophers rejected non-naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena.
- Ideas proposed by these philosophers were verified through reason and observation.
- Atomism, proposed by Leucippus and Democritus, was found to be correct centuries later.
- Natural philosophy played a significant role in the development of physics.
Classical and Modern Physics
- Physics became a separate science during the early modern period when Europeans used experimental and quantitative methods.
- Major developments in this period included the heliocentric model of the Solar System, Kepler's laws of planetary motion, Galileo's work on telescopes and observational astronomy, and Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation.
- Newton also developed calculus, providing new mathematical methods for solving physical problems.
- Laws in thermodynamics, chemistry, and electromagnetics were discovered during the Industrial Revolution.
- Classical physics remains widely used for everyday objects at non-relativistic speeds, while modern physics was developed to address inaccuracies at small scales and high velocities.
- Modern physics emerged in the early 20th century with the work of Max Planck and Albert Einstein.
- Einstein's theory of special relativity corrected the discrepancy between classical mechanics and the speed of light.
- Planck's theory of quantum mechanics explained black-body radiation and discrete energy levels.
- Quantum mechanics was further developed by Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Dirac.
- The Standard Model of particle physics was derived from this early work, and research on physics beyond the Standard Model continues.
Physics Data Sources