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120 Essential Concepts in Science


Scalar Quantities are quantities that have magnitude only.


Vector quantities are quantities that have both magnitude and direction.


To add up 2 vectors that acts outwards from the

same point, the parallelogram law can be used.


To add up 2 vectors that are continuous in direction,

the triangle law can be used.


Speed is the rate of change of distance.


Velocity is the rate of change of displacement / distance

distance / m

in a particular direction.


Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity.


speed/ m/s

The gradient of a distance-time

graph gives the speed.












The area under a speed-time graph gives the

distance travelled while its gradient gives the







time / s


10. When an object is dropped near the earth, its acceleration is constant at
10 m/s2 if there is no air resistance.

11. When the forces acting on a body are unbalanced, it will experience a
resultant force and it will accelerate because F = ma.


time / s

12. When the forces acting on a body are balanced, the resultant force acting
on it is zero and the body will either stay at rest / remain stationary or
move with constant velocity.
13. Friction causes surfaces to heat up and results in wear and tear. It also
reduces efficiency in machinery.

14. Mass is the amount of matter in a body.

15. Weight is the gravitational force acting on the body.
16. Mass is constant whereas weight depends on the gravitational field
strength of the location.
17. Weight is measured in Newton (unit) using a spring balance.
18. Mass is measured in kilogram (unit) using a beam balance.
19. Mass is a scalar whereas weight is a vector.
20. Inertia is the reluctance of a body to change its state of rest or motion.
21. Density is the mass per unit volume.
22. Gravitational field is a region in which a body experiences gravitational
23. Gravitational field strength is the gravitational force acting on a unit

24. Moment is the turning effect of a force.

25. Principle of moment states that when an object is in equilibrium, the sum
of its clockwise moment about any point is equal to the sum of
its anticlockwise moment about the same point.
26. A stable object has wide base area and low centre of gravity.
27. Pressure is the force acting on a unit area.
28. A force acting on a small contact area gives rise to a large

29. Conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or

destroyed but it can be converted / transferred from one form to
30. To increase the gravitational potential energy of a body, we need to
increase its height above the ground.
31. To increase the kinetic energy of a body, we need to increase its speed.
32. When a moving object is stopped by friction, its kinetic energy is
converted to thermal energy.
33. When an object falls from a height, it gained kinetic energy while losing
gravitational potential energy.
34. Power is the rate of work done.

35. Solids have

fixed volume and shape and

it cannot be compressed.

36. Liquids have fixed volume but its shape is not fixed. It is not easy /
difficult to compress and it assumes the shape of its container.
37. Gases volume and shape are not fixed and it is highly compressible.
38. Solid particles are closely /tightly packed
in a regular / orderly pattern. They
vibrate in their fixed position. They have
strong intermolecular bonds between one
39. Liquid particles are arranged randomly /
freely and they are close to one another. They vibrate and move among
one another. Their intermolecular forces are strong.
40. Gas particles are spaced far apart and they move randomly with a fast /
high speed. Their intermolecular forces are negligible / very weak.

41. When solid particles are heated, they will vibrate more vigorously , when
liquid or
gas particles are heated, they will move faster.
42. Thermal energy is transferred from a region of high
temperature to a region of low temperature.
43. When a solid is heated, the particles gain energy
and vibrate more vigorously. They collide with their less energetic
neighbours and transfer energy to them. This transfer of energy from one
particle to another by vibration is called conduction.

44. Metals are good conductors of heat while liquid / wood / plastic /
wool / Styrofoam and still (trapped) air are very good insulators of
45. When a fluid (liquid or gas) is heated, it will expand and
become less dense The hot fluid will rise to the top.
The cooler fluid at the top will sink to take its place
because it is denser This circulation of fluid is known as
convection current and it will ensure that the fluid is
evenly heated.
46. Conduction and convection cannot occur in vacuum.
47. Radiation is the transfer of heat by infrared wave.
48. Radiation does not require a medium and is able to travel through
49. A good absorber of heat is a good emitter of heat.
50. Rate of radiation depends on the texture , colour , area
and temperature of the surface.
51. Black and rough surfaces are good in emitting / absorbing heat while
white and shiny surfaces are poor in emitting / absorbing heat.

52. When an

object is heated, its


increases because its

kinetic / internal energy increases.

53. Melting is the process in which solid changes into liquid at the melting
point. Solidification is the process in which liquid changes into solid at
the freezing point.
54. The heating curve shows how temperature
varies when a substance is heated. At VW, it

is in the solid state. At WX, solid and liquid states are in equilibrium as
the substance undergoes the melting process. At YZ, it undergoes
boiling process whereby liquid changes into gas . Energy is absorbed
from V to Z but temperature does not change during the change of state
because it is used to break intermolecular bonds.
55. Evaporation and boiling are similar because both
involve changing a liquid into a gas.
56. Boiling takes place at a fixed temperature whereas
evaporation takes place at any temperature below
boiling point.

57. A wave transfers energy by vibration. No matter is transferred when a

wave moves.
58. Transverse waves are waves that travel in a
direction that is perpendicular to the
direction of vibration of the particles in the

59. Longitudinal waves are waves that travel

parallel to the direction of vibration of the
particles in the medium.
60. An example of longitudinal wave is sound wave while water wave is an
example of transverse wave.
61. Amplitude of a wave is the maximum
dispalcement of the particles in the
62. Frequency is the number of complete wave generated in 1s.

63. Period of a wave is the time taken to generate a complete wave.

64. Wavelength is the distance between 2 particles that are in phase / 2
crests / 2 troughs.
65. Speed of the wave is the distance traveled by the wave in 1 s.
66. Wavefront is an imaginary line that joins all the particles that are in
phase in a wave.

67. Sound is produced by the vibration of objects.

68. When an object vibrates, it alternates between pushing the air layers
together to cause a region of compression and pulling the air layers
apart to cause a region of rarefaction The air layers continues to vibrate
parallel to the direction of the sound wave to propagate the sound wave.
69. Sound cannot travel in vacuum.
70. Sound travel fastest in solid and slowest in gas.
71. When sound is reflected echo is formed.

72. A sound wave with a large amplitude is louder than a sound with a
smaller amplitude.

73. The higher the frequency of the sound wave, the higher the pitch of the
74. When light ray gets reflected, its angle of incidence
is equal to its angle of reflection.
75. When light enters a different medium, it bends /
gets refracted because its speed changes.
76. Light will bend towards the normal when it enters a
denser medium and bend away from the normal
when it enters a less dense medium.
77. Refractive index of a medium is the ratio of the speed of light in vacuum
and in the medium.

Critical angle is the angle of incidence in

the denser medium when the angle of
refraction is 90o.


When the angle of incidence in the denser

medium is less than critical angle, light will
be refracted out of the medium.


When the angle of incidence in the denser medium is more than the
critical angle, total internal reflection will occur.

81. Focal length of a lens is the distance between its

optical centre and principal focus.

82. In order to use a converging lens as a magnifying glass, the object must be
placed at a distance less than the focal length. The image obtained will be
virtual because it cannot be captured on a screen.
83. When an object is placed at a distance
equal to the focal length of the lens, no
image is formed as parallel light rays
emerged from the lens.
84. A real and inverted image will be obtained
when the object is placed further than the
focal length from the lens.
85. To obtain a real, inverted image that is of the same size as the object, it
needs to be placed at a distance equal to the 2 times the focal length
from the lens.

86. Every wave in the electromagnetic spectrum is transverse in nature and

they travel with the same speed of 3 x 108 m/s in vacuum.
87. Gamma wave has the largest frequency and the smallest wavelength in
the electromagnetic spectrum.

88. There are 2 kinds of charges, positive charges and negative charges.
Charges are measured in Coulombs (unit).

89. Unlike charges attract and like charges repel.

90. Electric Field lines of a positive and negative charge.

91. Electric field lines between (i) 2 like and (ii) 2 unlike charges.


92. Current is the

rate of flow of charges. It is

measured with an ammeter that is connected in series to the circuit.

93. Electrons flow in the opposite direction as the conventional current.
94. Electromotive force (EMF) is the work done by an electrical source to
drive 1 C of charge around the complete circuit.
95. The potential difference across a component is the energy needed to
drive 1 C of charge through the component. It is measured with a
voltmeter connected in parallel across the component.
96. Resistance is defined as the ratio of potential difference and current.
97. When the length of a wire is doubled, its resistance is doubled. When the
cross-sectional area of a wire is doubled its resistance is halved
98. In a series circuit,

the current at every point is the same

the sum of the potential difference is equal to the EMF of the source

the effective resistance is the sum of the resistance in the circuit.

RE = R1 + R2
99. In a parallel circuit,

the sum of the current that enters a point is equal to the sum of the
current that leaves the same point,

the potential difference across the separate branches is the same

the effective resistance can be obtained by the formula


RE =

1 +


100. Fuses are used to prevent excessive current / current larger than its
rating from entering the circuit.
101. Earth wire prevents electric shock to the user when he
accidentally touches the metal casing of an appliance that has
become live accidentally.
102. When the metal casing of an appliance becomes live accidentally, current
will start to flow to the earth through the earth wire. Since the resistance
of the earth wire is small, the current will be very large. That will blow the
fuse and isolate the faulty appliance.


103. The fuse and switch must be connected to the live wire so that the
appliance will be isolated from high potential when the fuse blow or when
the switch is closed.
104. The earth wire is yellow and green in colour, the neutral wire is blue in
colour and the live wire is brown in colour.
105. The neutral wire and earth wire are at zero potential (0 V) while the live
wire is at potential that is much higher or lower than the neutral wire to
provide a potential difference for current to flow.
106. If the casing of an appliance is made of an insulator, it is said to be
double insulated.

107. Like poles of a magnet repel while unlike poles attract.

108. A freely suspended magnet will always point in the

north-south direction.

109. Induced magnetism is the magnetism produced in a soft

iron when a magnet is brought near it.

110. To magnetise a magnetic material, it is put in a solenoid

and a direct current is passed through the solenoid. To
determine the polarity of the magnet, the right hand
grip rule is used.
111. To demagnetize a magnet, it is put in a solenoid
and an alternating current (ac) is passed
through the solenoid and the magnet is pulled

out of the solenoid slowly as the current is still

112. The magnetic field of a bar magnet

113. The magnetic field between (i) 2 like poles (ii) 2 unlike poles of magnets


114. Iron is easily magnetised and demagnetized. Hence it is used as an

electro / temporary magnet.
115. Steel is difficult to magnetise and demagnetize. Hence it is used as a
permanent magnet.
116. The compass needle is made of permanent magnet while the electric bell
is an example of the application of temporary / electro magnet.

117. When current flows through a conductor, it produces a magnetic field.

118. Magnetic field of current flowing into (i) and out of the (ii) page


119. A current-

carrying conductor

experiences a

force when placed in a

magnetic field. The direction of the force can be determined by the

Flemings left hand rule.
120. When the direction of the current or magnetic field are reversed , the
force acting on the conductor will also be reversed.

Congratulations! You have covered 120 essential Physics