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A Simple Understanding of Physics

Science is divided into many disciplines.  One such division is physics.  The study of  relations among observations we can make of the universe constitutes the body of science, and relations among observations of the physical universe constitutes the subject matter of physics. (Adair, 25)  It is plain to see from this description that physics does encompass a wide array of studies.

The majority of physical phenomena investigated has been reduced to mathematical formulas by dedicated scientists endeavoring to understand and explain these A more refined interpretation of physics exerts Physics deals with the material aspect of the inanimate world, and is particularly concerned with processes in which the nature of the matter changes…the measured properties of lifeless matter involving no change of chemical composition and of energy and radiation, in all their many forms, are the particular province of physics. (Andrade, 204).

Through the scientific method and the use of mathematics, physicists have perfected formulas and laws to describe and predict the behavior and relationships of both matter and energy.  They have scrupulously dissected each facet defining the attributes of such phenomena as movement,  sound, light, electricity, magnetism and the processes of the cosmos.  It was through this research that the foundation for the development of the technological age was laid.  The original ideas of  telephones, airplanes, computers, hydraulics, and space travel have all become mere realities due to the study of In order to get a good idea of the definition of physics it is also important to explore some of the people who gave credibility to this aspect of science.

These people and their histories allow a humanization of a subject often perceived as passionless and automated.  One such person, who is probably the most famous among non-scientists, is Sir Isaac Newton.  The story of Newton discovering gravity while sitting under an apple tree has been immortalized in every elementary school students mind.  Of course few of them understand that his real efforts were to illustrate the motion of the planets.  His supreme achievement lay in the recognition that the force that caused an apple to fall to the ground and the force that kept the moon in place in its orbit round the Earth were only different manifestations of one universal Another one of the most crucial scientists was Galileo Galilei.

His clash with the Catholic Church and his belief that man could determine the nature of reality without the churchs assistance, but rather through his own observations, actually led to the conception of the scientific method.  It was through his initial exploration that he proved his theory of a heliocentric solar system.  This disagreement with the churchs earth is the center of the universe theory did cause him much strife, but his publications helped eventually establish Copernican Another well known student and teacher of physics is Albert Einstein.  His theory of relativity paved the way for the creation of atomic energy and the detonation of the first atomic bomb.

This same research also helped to further a better understanding of the motion of planets. The most revered physicist of modern day science has to be Stephen Hawking.  A student and professor of physics at Oxford university… (Hawking, 13), he not only furthered our understanding of the universe through his research on the properties and existence of black holes, but also attempted to explain his theories and others to the everyday layman in his best selling book A These men observed the natural processes around them and developed theories and formulas to elucidate and characterize why things appeared the way they did.  In short, physics is devoted to analysis and testing of extensive logical structures that can be (and usually are) built on narrow bases of experience, rather than to a study of relations among broad categories and observation. (Adair, 26).

In other words the more these men explored, the more they needed to specialize in more precise aspects of natural phenomena.  Today physics is fragmented into a myriad of specializations.  Each field taking ideas from another fields research and ultimately proving that the more we understand, the more we realize One of the earliest utilizations of the science of physics was in its ability to explain the way things moved, both on the ground and in the air.  By developing an acute understanding of the forces that affect movement, the possibilities of air and space travel became realities.

By observing and studying the way many different things move these scientists developed formulas that, once proven consistent, also helped them understand more ardently the nature of the universe.  They studied everything from the movement of the heavens to movements and relationships of sub atomic particles, which was made possible with the invention of the electron microscope.  In addition to the way things moved, some physicists studied the significance and fashions of heat, light, Few people today understand how much our culture owes to the study of physics.

The study of light and the way it reflects and refracts gave us eyeglasses that perfected ones vision.  The continued study of the movement of light has also led to the creation of lasers.  In addition to understanding how to light was directed this research also gave scientists a better understanding of the way the eye worked which, in turn, led to the development of cameras For the traditional college student, physics may be part of a regular course load.  And for too many of these students it is simply a series of useless formulas and theories.

As students attend physics class and attempt to do their homework, more often than not many get confused and frustrated and either end up withdrawing from (or failing) class. Yet, to the willing and persevering student physics can be a great tool.  As students of Physics it is important we understand the many tools studying this discipline affords us  Not only is it key to understanding the working of much of our environment, but also it is an excellent exercise for the analytical mind. Physics has to be one of the most crucial scientific disciplines in our culture today.  It has provided us with the technology to stay healthier, live longer and more comfortably, and to process more information than all the generations before us put together. It is through this research that we have come to understand our place in the universe, our relationship to all things, and the nature


Adair, Robert.  The Great Design – Particles, Fields and Creation.  (1987).

New York, New York,  Oxford University Press, 25-26. Andrade, E.  An Approach to Modern Physics.  (1956).

Garden City, New York.  Doubleday Anchor Books, 204. Burns, Desmond and MacDonald, Simon.  Physics for Biology and Pre-Medical Students.(1970).

Reading, Massachusetts.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,  195.  Hawking, Stephen.  A Brief History of Time.  (1988).

New York, New York.  Bantam Books.  13

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