Common Questions

What is physics exactly?

The word "Physics" actually comes from a couple of Greek words that mean "knowledge of nature" and that is a pretty good summary of what we look at in physics. It is a natural science like biology and chemistry. Physics mainly studies the nature of matter and how matter moves and behaves through space-time. Physics also studies matter-related concepts such as energy and force. The main goal of physics is to understand how the universe behaves.

Where did physics come from?

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines. Physics, chemistry and biology were all part of natural philosophy and certain branches of mathematics. This changed, however, during the scientific revolution in the 17th century when the natural sciences split off as independent, unique research programs. Physics crosses into many other 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 basic workings of other sciences while also opening new paths of research in areas such as mathematics and philosophy.

Why is physics relevant today?

Physics makes significant contributions through advances in new technologies that arise from theoretical breakthroughs. In other words, scientists that research basic abstract science principles drive changes in technology. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism or nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products that have dramatically transformed modern-day society, such as televisioncomputersdomestic appliances, and unfortunately even nuclear weapons. Advances in thermodynamics led to the development of industrialization, and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus which in turn drove additional discoveries in its own right.

How do I learn such a complicated science?

First of all don't worry. It is not as complicated to learn physics as you may think or may have heard. How you learn physics can take a few paths. You can memorize a lot of information which takes a lot of time, a lot of practice and will not help you actually learn the concepts in the long run. Or, you can think about the process by which something occurs in physics and then actually experiment to verify your thoughts which requires little memorization and tons of application. This causes you to learn physics, but more importantly causes you to become a better problem solver in any area of your life - not just in physics. So, check out all of the resources under the physics menu above. These online resources are meant to help you learn physics in the most effective manner possible. You are in for a lot learning, but also a lot of fun as well!

Contact: Jeff.Batey@D214.org