Physics

Various examples of physical phenomena

Physics (from Ancient Greek: φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), translit. physikḗ (epistḗmē), lit. 'knowledge of nature', from φύσις phýsis "nature"[1][2][3]) is the natural science that studies matter[4] and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force.[5] Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.[a][6][7][8]

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and, through its inclusion of astronomy, perhaps the oldest.[9] Over the last 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.[b] 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[6] and suggest new avenues of research in academic disciplines such as mathematics and philosophy.

Theoretical breakthroughs in physics also make significant contributions by enabling advances in new technologies. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism 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;[6] advances in thermodynamics led to the development of industrialization; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.

  1. ^ "physics". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "physic". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  3. ^ φύσις, φυσική, ἐπιστήμη. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. ^ At the start of The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman offers the atomic hypothesis as the single most prolific scientific concept: "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 ..." (Feynman, Leighton & Sands 1963, p. I-2)
  5. ^ "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of events." (Maxwell 1878, p. 9)
  6. ^ a b c "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.Young & Freedman 2014, p. 1
  7. ^ "Physics is an experimental science. Physicists observe the phenomena of nature and try to find patterns that relate these phenomena."Young & Freedman 2014, p. 2
  8. ^ "Physics is the study of your world and the world and universe around you." (Holzner 2006, p. 7)
  9. ^ Krupp 2003
  10. ^ Cajori 1917, pp. 48–49


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