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Physics

FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Physics(fromAncientGreek:()phusik(epistm)"knowledgeofnature",from
phsis"nature"[1][2][3])isthenaturalsciencethatinvolvesthestudyofmatter[4]anditsmotionandbehavior
throughspaceandtime,alongwithrelatedconceptssuchasenergyandforce.[5]Oneofthemostfundamental
scientificdisciplines,themaingoalofphysicsistounderstandhowtheuniversebehaves.[a][6][7][8]

Physicsisoneoftheoldestacademicdisciplines,perhapstheoldestthroughitsinclusionofastronomy.[9]Over
thelasttwomillennia,physicswasapartofnaturalphilosophyalongwithchemistry,biology,andcertain
branchesofmathematics,butduringthescientificrevolutioninthe17thcentury,thenaturalsciencesemerged
asuniqueresearchprogramsintheirownright.[b]Physicsintersectswithmanyinterdisciplinaryareasof
research,suchasbiophysicsandquantumchemistry,andtheboundariesofphysicsarenotrigidlydefined.
Newideasinphysicsoftenexplainthefundamentalmechanismsofothersciences[6]whileopeningnew
avenuesofresearchinareassuchasmathematicsandphilosophy. Variousexamplesofphysicalphenomena

Physicsalsomakessignificantcontributionsthroughadvancesinnewtechnologiesthatarisefromtheoretical
breakthroughs.Forexample,advancesintheunderstandingofelectromagnetismornuclearphysicsleddirectlytothedevelopmentofnewproductsthathave
dramaticallytransformedmoderndaysociety,suchastelevision,computers,domesticappliances,andnuclearweapons[6]advancesinthermodynamicsledtothe
developmentofindustrialization,andadvancesinmechanicsinspiredthedevelopmentofcalculus.

TheUnitedNationsnamed2005theWorldYearofPhysics.

Contents
1 History
1.1 Ancientastronomy
1.2 Naturalphilosophy
1.3 PhysicsinthemedievalIslamicworld
1.4 Classicalphysics
1.5 Modernphysics
2 Philosophy
3 Coretheories
3.1 Classicalphysics
3.2 Modernphysics
3.3 Differencebetweenclassicalandmodernphysics
4 Relationtootherfields
4.1 Prerequisites
4.2 Applicationandinfluence
5 Research
5.1 Scientificmethod
5.2 Theoryandexperiment
5.3 Scopeandaims
5.4 Researchfields
5.4.1 Nuclearandparticlephysics
5.4.2 Atomic,molecular,andopticalphysics
5.4.3 Condensedmatterphysics
5.4.4 Astrophysics
6 Currentresearch
7 Seealso
8 Notes
9 References
10 Sources
11 Furtherreading
12 Externallinks

History
Ancientastronomy

Astronomyistheoldestofthenaturalsciences.Theearliestcivilizationsdatingbacktobeyond3000BCE,suchastheSumerians,ancientEgyptians,andthe
IndusValleyCivilization,allhadapredictiveknowledgeandabasicunderstandingofthemotionsoftheSun,Moon,andstars.Thestarsandplanetswereoftena
targetofworship,believedtorepresenttheirgods.Whiletheexplanationsforthesephenomenawereoftenunscientificandlackinginevidence,theseearly
observationslaidthefoundationforlaterastronomy.[9]

AccordingtoAsgerAaboe,theoriginsofWesternastronomycanbefoundinMesopotamia,andallWesterneffortsintheexactsciencesaredescendedfromlate
Babylonianastronomy.[11]Egyptianastronomersleftmonumentsshowingknowledgeoftheconstellationsandthemotionsofthecelestialbodies,[12]whileGreek
poetHomerwroteofvariouscelestialobjectsinhisIliadandOdysseylaterGreekastronomersprovidednames,whicharestillusedtoday,formostconstellations
visiblefromthenorthernhemisphere.[13]
Naturalphilosophy

NaturalphilosophyhasitsoriginsinGreeceduringtheArchaicperiod,(650BCE480BCE),whenpreSocratic
philosopherslikeThalesrejectednonnaturalisticexplanationsfornaturalphenomenaandproclaimedthateveryeventhad
anaturalcause.[14]Theyproposedideasverifiedbyreasonandobservation,andmanyoftheirhypothesesproved
successfulinexperiment[15]forexample,atomismwasfoundtobecorrectapproximately2000yearsafteritwasfirst
proposedbyLeucippusandhispupilDemocritus.[16]
AncientEgyptianastronomyis
PhysicsinthemedievalIslamicworld evidentinmonumentsliketheceiling
ofSenemut'stombfromthe
IslamicscholarshiphadinheritedAristotelianphysicsfromtheGreeksandduringtheIslamicGoldenAgedevelopedit EighteenthDynastyofEgypt.
further,especiallyplacingemphasisonobservationandapriorireasoning,developingearlyformsofthescientificmethod.

Themostnotableinnovationswereinthefieldofopticsandvision,whichcamefromtheworksofmanyscientistslikeIbn
Sahl,AlKindi,IbnalHaytham,AlFarisiandAvicenna.ThemostnotableworkwasTheBookofOptics(alsoknownas
KitbalManir),writtenbyIbnAlHaitham,inwhichhewasnotonlythefirsttodisprovetheancientGreekideaabout
vision,butalsocameupwithanewtheory.Inthebook,hewasalsothefirsttostudythephenomenonofthepinhole
cameraanddelvedfurtherintothewaytheeyeitselfworks.Usingdissectionsandtheknowledgeofpreviousscholars,he
wasabletobegintoexplainhowlightenterstheeye,isfocused,andisprojectedtothebackoftheeye:andbuiltthenthe
world'sfirstcameraobscurahundredsofyearsbeforethemoderndevelopmentofphotography.[17]

ThesevenvolumeBookofOptics(KitabalManathir)hugelyinfluencedthinkingacrossdisciplinesfromthetheoryof Thebasicwayapinholecamera
visualperceptiontothenatureofperspectiveinmedievalart,inboththeEastandtheWest,formorethan600years.Many works
laterEuropeanscholarsandfellowpolymaths,fromRobertGrossetesteandLeonardodaVincitoRenDescartes,
JohannesKeplerandIsaacNewton,wereinhisdebt.Indeed,theinfluenceofIbnalHaytham'sOpticsranksalongsidethat
ofNewton'sworkofthesametitle,published700yearslater.

ThetranslationofTheBookofOpticshadahugeimpactonEurope.Fromit,laterEuropeanscholarswereabletobuildthesamedevicesaswhatIbnalHaytham
did,andunderstandthewaylightworks.Fromthis,suchimportantthingsaseyeglasses,magnifyingglasses,telescopes,andcamerasweredeveloped.

Classicalphysics

PhysicsbecameaseparatesciencewhenearlymodernEuropeansusedexperimentalandquantitativemethodstodiscoverwhatarenowconsideredtobethelaws
ofphysics.[18]
Majordevelopmentsinthisperiodincludethereplacementofthegeocentricmodelofthesolarsystemwiththeheliocentric
Copernicanmodel,thelawsgoverningthemotionofplanetarybodiesdeterminedbyJohannesKeplerbetween1609and
1619,pioneeringworkontelescopesandobservationalastronomybyGalileoGalileiinthe16thand17thCenturies,and
IsaacNewton'sdiscoveryandunificationofthelawsofmotionanduniversalgravitationthatwouldcometobearhis
name.[19]Newtonalsodevelopedcalculus,[c]themathematicalstudyofchange,whichprovidednewmathematical
methodsforsolvingphysicalproblems.[20]

Thediscoveryofnewlawsinthermodynamics,chemistry,andelectromagneticsresultedfromgreaterresearchefforts
duringtheIndustrialRevolutionasenergyneedsincreased.[21]Thelawscomprisingclassicalphysicsremainverywidely
usedforobjectsoneverydayscalestravellingatnonrelativisticspeeds,sincetheyprovideaverycloseapproximationin
suchsituations,andtheoriessuchasquantummechanicsandthetheoryofrelativitysimplifytotheirclassicalequivalents
atsuchscales.However,inaccuraciesinclassicalmechanicsforverysmallobjectsandveryhighvelocitiesledtothe
developmentofmodernphysicsinthe20thcentury.

Modernphysics IbnalHaytham(c.965c.1040),
thepioneerofoptics
Modernphysicsbeganintheearly20thcenturywiththeworkofMaxPlanckinquantumtheoryandAlbertEinstein's
theoryofrelativity.Bothofthesetheoriescameaboutduetoinaccuraciesinclassicalmechanicsincertainsituations.
Classicalmechanicspredictedavaryingspeedoflight,whichcouldnotberesolvedwiththeconstantspeedpredictedby
Maxwell'sequationsofelectromagnetismthisdiscrepancywascorrectedbyEinstein'stheoryofspecialrelativity,whichreplaced
classicalmechanicsforfastmovingbodiesandallowedforaconstantspeedoflight.[22]Blackbodyradiationprovidedanother
problemforclassicalphysics,whichwascorrectedwhenPlanckproposedthattheexcitationofmaterialoscillatorsispossibleonly
indiscretestepsproportionaltotheirfrequencythis,alongwiththephotoelectriceffectandacompletetheorypredictingdiscrete
energylevelsofelectronorbitals,ledtothetheoryofquantummechanicstakingoverfromclassicalphysicsatverysmall
scales.[23]

QuantummechanicswouldcometobepioneeredbyWernerHeisenberg,ErwinSchrdingerandPaulDirac.[23]Fromthisearly
work,andworkinrelatedfields,theStandardModelofparticlephysicswasderived.[24]Followingthediscoveryofaparticlewith
propertiesconsistentwiththeHiggsbosonatCERNin2012,[25]allfundamentalparticlespredictedbythestandardmodel,andno
others,appeartoexisthowever,physicsbeyondtheStandardModel,withtheoriessuchassupersymmetry,isanactiveareaof
SirIsaacNewton(1643
research.[26]Areasofmathematicsingeneralareimportanttothisfield,suchasthestudyofprobabilitiesandgroups. 1727),whoselawsofmotion
anduniversalgravitation
Philosophy weremajormilestonesin
classicalphysics
Inmanyways,physicsstemsfromancientGreekphilosophy.FromThales'firstattemptto
characterisematter,toDemocritus'deductionthatmatteroughttoreducetoaninvariantstate,the
Ptolemaicastronomyofacrystallinefirmament,andAristotle'sbookPhysics(anearlybookon
physics,whichattemptedtoanalyzeanddefinemotionfromaphilosophicalpointofview),various
Greekphilosophersadvancedtheirowntheoriesofnature.Physicswasknownasnatural
philosophyuntilthelate18thcentury.[27]

Bythe19thcentury,physicswasrealisedasadisciplinedistinctfromphilosophyandtheother
sciences.Physics,aswiththerestofscience,reliesonphilosophyofscienceandits"scientific
method"toadvanceourknowledgeofthephysicalworld.[28]Thescientificmethodemploysa
priorireasoningaswellasaposteriorireasoningandtheuseofBayesianinferencetomeasurethe
validityofagiventheory.[29]
AlbertEinstein(1879
Thedevelopmentofphysicshasansweredmanyquestionsofearlyphilosophers,buthasalsoraised 1955),whoseworkonthe
MaxPlanck(18581947),
newquestions.Studyofthephilosophicalissuessurroundingphysics,thephilosophyofphysics, photoelectriceffectandthe
theoriginatorofthetheory
involvesissuessuchasthenatureofspaceandtime,determinism,andmetaphysicaloutlookssuch theoryofrelativityledtoa
ofquantummechanics
revolutionin20thcentury
asempiricism,naturalismandrealism.[30]
physics
Manyphysicistshavewrittenaboutthephilosophicalimplicationsoftheirwork,forinstanceLaplace,whochampionedcausal
determinism,[31]andErwinSchrdinger,whowroteonquantummechanics.[32][33]ThemathematicalphysicistRogerPenrosehasbeencalledaPlatonistby
StephenHawking,[34]aviewPenrosediscussesinhisbook,TheRoadtoReality.[35]Hawkingreferstohimselfasan"unashamedreductionist"andtakesissue
withPenrose'sviews.[36]

Coretheories
Thoughphysicsdealswithawidevarietyofsystems,certaintheoriesareusedbyallphysicists.Eachofthesetheorieswereexperimentallytestednumeroustimes
andfoundtobeanadequateapproximationofnature.Forinstance,thetheoryofclassicalmechanicsaccuratelydescribesthemotionofobjects,providedtheyare
muchlargerthanatomsandmovingatmuchlessthanthespeedoflight.Thesetheoriescontinuetobeareasofactiveresearchtoday.Chaostheory,aremarkable
aspectofclassicalmechanicswasdiscoveredinthe20thcentury,threecenturiesaftertheoriginalformulationofclassicalmechanicsbyIsaacNewton(1642
1727).

Thesecentraltheoriesareimportanttoolsforresearchintomorespecialisedtopics,andanyphysicist,regardlessoftheirspecialisation,isexpectedtobeliteratein
them.Theseincludeclassicalmechanics,quantummechanics,thermodynamicsandstatisticalmechanics,electromagnetism,andspecialrelativity.

Classicalphysics
Classicalphysicsincludesthetraditionalbranchesandtopicsthatwererecognisedandwelldevelopedbeforethe
beginningofthe20thcenturyclassicalmechanics,acoustics,optics,thermodynamics,andelectromagnetism.Classical
mechanicsisconcernedwithbodiesactedonbyforcesandbodiesinmotionandmaybedividedintostatics(studyofthe
forcesonabodyorbodiesnotsubjecttoanacceleration),kinematics(studyofmotionwithoutregardtoitscauses),and
dynamics(studyofmotionandtheforcesthataffectit)mechanicsmayalsobedividedintosolidmechanicsandfluid
mechanics(knowntogetherascontinuummechanics),thelatterincludesuchbranchesashydrostatics,hydrodynamics,
aerodynamics,andpneumatics.Acousticsisthestudyofhowsoundisproduced,controlled,transmittedandreceived.[37]
Importantmodernbranchesofacousticsincludeultrasonics,thestudyofsoundwavesofveryhighfrequencybeyondthe
rangeofhumanhearingbioacoustics,thephysicsofanimalcallsandhearing,[38]andelectroacoustics,themanipulationof
audiblesoundwavesusingelectronics.[39]

Optics,thestudyoflight,isconcernednotonlywithvisiblelightbutalsowithinfraredandultravioletradiation,which
exhibitallofthephenomenaofvisiblelightexceptvisibility,e.g.,reflection,refraction,interference,diffraction,
dispersion,andpolarizationoflight.Heatisaformofenergy,theinternalenergypossessedbytheparticlesofwhicha
substanceiscomposedthermodynamicsdealswiththerelationshipsbetweenheatandotherformsofenergy.Electricity
andmagnetismhavebeenstudiedasasinglebranchofphysicssincetheintimateconnectionbetweenthemwasdiscovered
intheearly19thcenturyanelectriccurrentgivesrisetoamagneticfield,andachangingmagneticfieldinducesanelectric
current.Electrostaticsdealswithelectricchargesatrest,electrodynamicswithmovingcharges,andmagnetostaticswith
magneticpolesatrest.
Classicalphysicsimplementedinan
Modernphysics acousticengineeringmodelofsound
reflectingfromanacousticdiffuser
Classicalphysicsisgenerallyconcernedwithmatterandenergyonthenormalscaleofobservation,whilemuchofmodern
physicsisconcernedwiththebehaviorofmatterandenergyunderextremeconditionsoronaverylargeorverysmall
scale.Forexample,atomicandnuclearphysicsstudiesmatteronthesmallestscaleatwhichchemicalelementscanbeidentified.Thephysicsofelementary
particlesisonanevensmallerscalesinceitisconcernedwiththemostbasicunitsofmatterthisbranchofphysicsisalsoknownashighenergyphysicsbecause
oftheextremelyhighenergiesnecessarytoproducemanytypesofparticlesinparticleaccelerators.Onthisscale,ordinary,commonsensenotionsofspace,time,
matter,andenergyarenolongervalid.[40]

Thetwochieftheoriesofmodernphysicspresentadifferentpictureoftheconceptsofspace,time,andmatterfromthatpresentedbyclassicalphysics.Classical
mechanicsapproximatesnatureascontinuous,whilequantumtheoryisconcernedwiththediscretenatureofmanyphenomenaattheatomicandsubatomiclevel
andwiththecomplementaryaspectsofparticlesandwavesinthedescriptionofsuchphenomena.Thetheoryofrelativityisconcernedwiththedescriptionof
phenomenathattakeplaceinaframeofreferencethatisinmotionwithrespecttoanobserverthespecialtheoryofrelativityisconcernedwithrelativeuniform
motioninastraightlineandthegeneraltheoryofrelativitywithacceleratedmotionanditsconnectionwithgravitation.Bothquantumtheoryandthetheoryof
relativityfindapplicationsinallareasofmodernphysics.[41]
Differencebetweenclassicalandmodernphysics

Whilephysicsaimstodiscoveruniversallaws,itstheorieslieinexplicitdomainsofapplicability.Looselyspeaking,the
lawsofclassicalphysicsaccuratelydescribesystemswhoseimportantlengthscalesaregreaterthantheatomicscaleand
whosemotionsaremuchslowerthanthespeedoflight.Outsideofthisdomain,observationsdonotmatchpredictions
providedbyclassicalmechanics.AlbertEinsteincontributedtheframeworkofspecialrelativity,whichreplacednotionsof
absolutetimeandspacewithspacetimeandallowedanaccuratedescriptionofsystemswhosecomponentshavespeeds
approachingthespeedoflight.MaxPlanck,ErwinSchrdinger,andothersintroducedquantummechanics,aprobabilistic
notionofparticlesandinteractionsthatallowedanaccuratedescriptionofatomicandsubatomicscales.Later,quantum
SolvayConferenceof1927,with fieldtheoryunifiedquantummechanicsandspecialrelativity.Generalrelativityallowedforadynamical,curved
prominentphysicistssuchasAlbert spacetime,withwhichhighlymassivesystemsandthelargescalestructureoftheuniversecanbewelldescribed.General
Einstein,WernerHeisenberg,Max relativityhasnotyetbeenunifiedwiththeotherfundamentaldescriptionsseveralcandidatetheoriesofquantumgravity
Planck,HendrikLorentz,NielsBohr, arebeingdeveloped.
MarieCurie,ErwinSchrdingerand
PaulDirac

Thebasicdomainsofphysics

Relationtootherfields
Prerequisites

Mathematicsprovidesacompactandexactlanguageusedtodescribeoftheorderinnature.ThiswasnotedandadvocatedbyPythagoras,[42]Plato,[43]Galileo,[44]
andNewton.
Physicsusesmathematics[45]toorganiseandformulateexperimentalresults.Fromthoseresults,
preciseorestimatedsolutions,quantitativeresultsfromwhichnewpredictionscanbemadeand
experimentallyconfirmedornegated.Theresultsfromphysicsexperimentsarenumerical
measurements.Technologiesbasedonmathematics,likecomputationhavemadecomputational
physicsanactiveareaofresearch.

Ontologyisaprerequisiteforphysics,butnotformathematics.Itmeansphysicsisultimately
concernedwithdescriptionsoftherealworld,whilemathematicsisconcernedwithabstractpatterns,
evenbeyondtherealworld.Thusphysicsstatementsaresynthetic,whilemathematicalstatementsare
Thisparabolashapedlavaflow
analytic.Mathematicscontainshypotheses,whilephysicscontainstheories.Mathematicsstatements
illustratestheapplicationof
havetobeonlylogicallytrue,whilepredictionsofphysicsstatementsmustmatchobservedand
mathematicsinphysicsinthiscase,
experimentaldata.
Galileo'slawoffallingbodies.
Thedistinctionisclearcut,butnotalwaysobvious.Forexample,mathematicalphysicsisthe
applicationofmathematicsinphysics.Itsmethodsaremathematical,butitssubjectisphysical.[46]
Theproblemsinthisfieldstartwitha"mathematicalmodelofaphysicalsituation"(system)anda
"mathematicaldescriptionofaphysicallaw"thatwillbeappliedtothatsystem.Everymathematical
statementusedforsolvinghasahardtofindphysicalmeaning.Thefinalmathematicalsolutionhas
aneasiertofindmeaning,becauseitiswhatthesolverislookingfor.

Mathematicsand Physicsisabranchoffundamentalscience,notpracticalscience.Physicsisalsocalled"the
ontologyareused fundamentalscience"becausethesubjectofstudyofallbranchesofnaturalsciencelikechemistry,
inphysics. astronomy,geology,andbiologyareconstrainedbylawsofphysics,[47]similartohowchemistryis
Physicsisusedin oftencalledthecentralsciencebecauseofitsroleinlinkingthephysicalsciences.Forexample, Thedistinctionbetweenmathematics
chemistryand chemistrystudiesproperties,structures,andreactionsofmatter(chemistry'sfocusontheatomicscale andphysicsisclearcut,butnot
cosmology. distinguishesitfromphysics).Structuresareformedbecauseparticlesexertelectricalforcesoneach alwaysobvious,especiallyin
other,propertiesincludephysicalcharacteristicsofgivensubstances,andreactionsareboundbylaws mathematicalphysics.
ofphysics,likeconservationofenergy,mass,andcharge.

Physicsisappliedinindustrieslikeengineeringandmedicine.

Applicationandinfluence

Appliedphysicsisageneraltermforphysicsresearchwhichisintendedforaparticularuse.Anappliedphysicscurriculumusuallycontainsafewclassesinan
applieddiscipline,likegeologyorelectricalengineering.Itusuallydiffersfromengineeringinthatanappliedphysicistmaynotbedesigningsomethingin
particular,butratherisusingphysicsorconductingphysicsresearchwiththeaimofdevelopingnewtechnologiesorsolvingaproblem.
Theapproachissimilartothatofappliedmathematics.Appliedphysicistsusephysicsinscientificresearch.Forinstance,people
workingonacceleratorphysicsmightseektobuildbetterparticledetectorsforresearchintheoreticalphysics.

Physicsisusedheavilyinengineering.Forexample,statics,asubfieldofmechanics,isusedinthebuildingofbridgesandotherstatic
structures.Theunderstandinganduseofacousticsresultsinsoundcontrolandbetterconcerthallssimilarly,theuseofopticscreates
betteropticaldevices.Anunderstandingofphysicsmakesformorerealisticflightsimulators,videogames,andmovies,andisoften
criticalinforensicinvestigations.
Archimedes'screw,a
Withthestandardconsensusthatthelawsofphysicsareuniversalanddonotchangewithtime,physicscanbeusedtostudythings simplemachinefor
thatwouldordinarilybemiredinuncertainty.Forexample,inthestudyoftheoriginoftheearth,onecanreasonablymodelearth's lifting
mass,temperature,andrateofrotation,asafunctionoftimeallowingonetoextrapolateforwardorbackwardintimeandsopredict
futureorpriorevents.Italsoallowsforsimulationsinengineeringwhichdrasticallyspeedupthedevelopmentofanewtechnology.

Butthereisalsoconsiderableinterdisciplinarityinthephysicist'smethods,somanyotherimportantfieldsareinfluencedbyphysics
(e.g.,thefieldsofeconophysicsandsociophysics).

Research
Scientificmethod

Physicistsusethescientificmethodtotestthevalidityofaphysicaltheory.Byusingamethodicalapproachtocomparethe
implicationsofatheorywiththeconclusionsdrawnfromitsrelatedexperimentsandobservations,physicistsarebetterabletotestthe
validityofatheoryinalogical,unbiased,andrepeatableway.Tothatend,experimentsareperformedandobservationsaremadein Theapplicationof
ordertodeterminethevalidityorinvalidityofthetheory.[48] physicallawsinlifting
liquids
Ascientificlawisaconciseverbalormathematicalstatementofarelationwhichexpressesafundamentalprincipleofsometheory,
suchasNewton'slawofuniversalgravitation.[49]

Theoryandexperiment

Theoristsseektodevelopmathematicalmodelsthatbothagreewithexistingexperimentsandsuccessfullypredictfutureexperimentalresults,while
experimentalistsdeviseandperformexperimentstotesttheoreticalpredictionsandexplorenewphenomena.Althoughtheoryandexperimentaredeveloped
separately,theyarestronglydependentuponeachother.Progressinphysicsfrequentlycomesaboutwhenexperimentalistsmakeadiscoverythatexistingtheories
cannotexplain,orwhennewtheoriesgenerateexperimentallytestablepredictions,whichinspirenewexperiments.[50]
Physicistswhoworkattheinterplayoftheoryandexperimentarecalled
phenomenologists,whostudycomplexphenomenaobservedinexperimentand
worktorelatethemtoafundamentaltheory.[51]

Theoreticalphysicshashistoricallytakeninspirationfromphilosophy
electromagnetismwasunifiedthisway.[d]Beyondtheknownuniverse,thefieldof
theoreticalphysicsalsodealswithhypotheticalissues,[e]suchasparalleluniverses,
amultiverse,andhigherdimensions.Theoristsinvoketheseideasinhopesof
solvingparticularproblemswithexistingtheories.Theythenexplorethe
consequencesoftheseideasandworktowardmakingtestablepredictions.

Lightningisanelectriccurrent Experimentalphysicsexpands,andisexpandedby,engineeringandtechnology.
Experimentalphysicistsinvolvedinbasicresearchdesignandperformexperiments TheastronautandEartharebothin
withequipmentsuchasparticleacceleratorsandlasers,whereasthoseinvolvedin freefall
appliedresearchoftenworkinindustrydevelopingtechnologiessuchasmagneticresonanceimaging(MRI)and
transistors.Feynmanhasnotedthatexperimentalistsmayseekareaswhicharenotwellexploredbytheorists.[52]

Scopeandaims

Physicscoversawiderangeofphenomena,fromelementaryparticles(suchasquarks,neutrinos,andelectrons)tothelargestsuperclustersofgalaxies.Includedin
thesephenomenaarethemostbasicobjectscomposingallotherthings.Therefore,physicsissometimescalledthe"fundamentalscience".[47]Physicsaimsto
describethevariousphenomenathatoccurinnatureintermsofsimplerphenomena.Thus,physicsaimstobothconnectthethingsobservabletohumanstoroot
causes,andthenconnectthesecausestogether.

Forexample,theancientChineseobservedthatcertainrocks(lodestoneandmagnetite)wereattractedtooneanotherbyaninvisibleforce.Thiseffectwaslater
calledmagnetism,whichwasfirstrigorouslystudiedinthe17thcentury.ButevenbeforetheChinesediscoveredmagnetism,theancientGreeksknewofother
objectssuchasamber,thatwhenrubbedwithfurwouldcauseasimilarinvisibleattractionbetweenthetwo.[53]Thiswasalsofirststudiedrigorouslyinthe17th
centuryandcametobecalledelectricity.Thus,physicshadcometounderstandtwoobservationsofnatureintermsofsomerootcause(electricityand
magnetism).However,furtherworkinthe19thcenturyrevealedthatthesetwoforceswerejusttwodifferentaspectsofoneforceelectromagnetism.This
processof"unifying"forcescontinuestoday,andelectromagnetismandtheweaknuclearforcearenowconsideredtobetwoaspectsoftheelectroweak
interaction.Physicshopestofindanultimatereason(TheoryofEverything)forwhynatureisasitis(seesectionCurrentresearchbelowformore
information).[54]

Researchfields
Contemporaryresearchinphysicscanbebroadlydividedintonuclearandparticlephysicscondensedmatterphysics
atomic,molecular,andopticalphysicsastrophysicsandappliedphysics.Somephysicsdepartmentsalsosupportphysics
educationresearchandphysicsoutreach.[55]

Sincethe20thcentury,theindividualfieldsofphysicshavebecomeincreasinglyspecialised,andtodaymostphysicists
workinasinglefieldfortheirentirecareers."Universalists"suchasAlbertEinstein(18791955)andLevLandau(1908
1968),whoworkedinmultiplefieldsofphysics,arenowveryrare.[f]

Themajorfieldsofphysics,alongwiththeirsubfieldsandthetheoriesandconceptstheyemploy,areshowninthe
followingtable.

Physicsinvolvesmodelingthenatural
worldwiththeory,usually
quantitative.Here,thepathofa
particleismodeledwiththe
mathematicsofcalculustoexplainits
behavior:thepurviewofthebranch
ofphysicsknownasmechanics.
Field Subfields Majortheories Concepts
StandardModel,Quantumfieldtheory,Quantum Fundamentalforce(gravitational,electromagnetic,
Nuclearphysics,Nuclear electrodynamics,Quantumchromodynamics, weak,strong),Elementaryparticle,Spin,
Nuclearand
astrophysics,Particlephysics, Electroweaktheory,Effectivefieldtheory,Latticefield Antimatter,Spontaneoussymmetrybreaking,
particle
Particleastrophysics,Particle theory,Latticegaugetheory,Gaugetheory, Neutrinooscillation,Seesawmechanism,Brane,
physics
physicsphenomenology Supersymmetry,Grandunificationtheory,Superstring String,Quantumgravity,Theoryofeverything,
theory,Mtheory Vacuumenergy
Atomic, Atomicphysics,Molecularphysics,
Photon,Atom,Molecule,Diffraction,
molecular, AtomicandMolecularastrophysics, Quantumoptics,Quantumchemistry,Quantum
Electromagneticradiation,Laser,Polarization
andoptical Chemicalphysics,Optics, informationscience
(waves),Spectralline,Casimireffect
physics Photonics
Solidstatephysics,Highpressure
Phases(gas,liquid,solid),BoseEinstein
Condensed physics,Lowtemperaturephysics, BCStheory,Blochwave,Densityfunctionaltheory,
condensate,Electricalconduction,Phonon,
matter SurfacePhysics,Nanoscaleand Fermigas,Fermiliquid,Manybodytheory,Statistical
Magnetism,Selforganization,Semiconductor,
physics Mesoscopicphysics,Polymer Mechanics
superconductor,superfluid,Spin,
physics
Astronomy,Astrometry,
Blackhole,Cosmicbackgroundradiation,Cosmic
Cosmology,Gravitationphysics,
BigBang,Cosmicinflation,Generalrelativity, string,Cosmos,Darkenergy,Darkmatter,Galaxy,
Highenergyastrophysics,Planetary
Astrophysics Newton'slawofuniversalgravitation,LambdaCDM Gravity,Gravitationalradiation,Gravitational
astrophysics,Plasmaphysics,Solar
model,Magnetohydrodynamics singularity,Planet,SolarSystem,Star,Supernova,
physics,Spacephysics,Stellar
Universe
astrophysics
Acceleratorphysics,Acoustics,Agrophysics,Biophysics,ChemicalPhysics,CommunicationPhysics,Econophysics,Engineeringphysics,Fluid
Applied dynamics,Geophysics,LaserPhysics,Materialsphysics,Medicalphysics,Nanotechnology,Optics,Optoelectronics,Photonics,Photovoltaics,
Physics Physicalchemistry,Physicsofcomputation,Plasmaphysics,Solidstatedevices,Quantumchemistry,Quantumelectronics,Quantuminformation
science,Vehicledynamics

Nuclearandparticlephysics

Particlephysicsisthestudyoftheelementaryconstituentsofmatterandenergyandtheinteractionsbetweenthem.[56]Inaddition,particlephysicistsdesignand
developthehighenergyaccelerators,[57]detectors,[58]andcomputerprograms[59]necessaryforthisresearch.Thefieldisalsocalled"highenergyphysics"
becausemanyelementaryparticlesdonotoccurnaturallybutarecreatedonlyduringhighenergycollisionsofotherparticles.[60]
Currently,theinteractionsofelementaryparticlesandfieldsaredescribedbytheStandardModel.[61]Themodelaccounts
forthe12knownparticlesofmatter(quarksandleptons)thatinteractviathestrong,weak,andelectromagnetic
fundamentalforces.[61]Dynamicsaredescribedintermsofmatterparticlesexchanginggaugebosons(gluons,WandZ
bosons,andphotons,respectively).[62]TheStandardModelalsopredictsaparticleknownastheHiggsboson.[61]InJuly
2012CERN,theEuropeanlaboratoryforparticlephysics,announcedthedetectionofaparticleconsistentwiththeHiggs
boson,[63]anintegralpartofaHiggsmechanism.

Nuclearphysicsisthefieldofphysicsthatstudiestheconstituentsandinteractionsofatomicnuclei.Themostcommonly
knownapplicationsofnuclearphysicsarenuclearpowergenerationandnuclearweaponstechnology,buttheresearchhas
providedapplicationinmanyfields,includingthoseinnuclearmedicineandmagneticresonanceimaging,ionimplantation
inmaterialsengineering,andradiocarbondatingingeologyandarchaeology.
AsimulatedeventintheCMS
Atomic,molecular,andopticalphysics detectoroftheLargeHadron
Collider,featuringapossible
Atomic,molecular,andopticalphysics(AMO)isthestudyofmattermatterandlightmatterinteractionsonthescaleof appearanceoftheHiggsboson.
singleatomsandmolecules.Thethreeareasaregroupedtogetherbecauseoftheirinterrelationships,thesimilarityof
methodsused,andthecommonalityoftheirrelevantenergyscales.Allthreeareasincludebothclassical,semiclassicalandquantumtreatmentstheycantreat
theirsubjectfromamicroscopicview(incontrasttoamacroscopicview).

Atomicphysicsstudiestheelectronshellsofatoms.Currentresearchfocusesonactivitiesinquantumcontrol,coolingandtrappingofatomsandions,[64][65][66]
lowtemperaturecollisiondynamicsandtheeffectsofelectroncorrelationonstructureanddynamics.Atomicphysicsisinfluencedbythenucleus(see,e.g.,
hyperfinesplitting),butintranuclearphenomenasuchasfissionandfusionareconsideredpartofnuclearphysics.

Molecularphysicsfocusesonmultiatomicstructuresandtheirinternalandexternalinteractionswithmatterandlight.Opticalphysicsisdistinctfromopticsin
thatittendstofocusnotonthecontrolofclassicallightfieldsbymacroscopicobjectsbutonthefundamentalpropertiesofopticalfieldsandtheirinteractionswith
matterinthemicroscopicrealm.

Condensedmatterphysics

Condensedmatterphysicsisthefieldofphysicsthatdealswiththemacroscopicphysicalpropertiesofmatter.[67]Inparticular,itisconcernedwiththe
"condensed"phasesthatappearwheneverthenumberofparticlesinasystemisextremelylargeandtheinteractionsbetweenthemarestrong.[68]

Themostfamiliarexamplesofcondensedphasesaresolidsandliquids,whicharisefromthebondingbywayoftheelectromagneticforcebetweenatoms.[69]
Moreexoticcondensedphasesincludethesuperfluid[70]andtheBoseEinsteincondensate[71]foundincertainatomicsystemsatverylowtemperature,the
superconductingphaseexhibitedbyconductionelectronsincertainmaterials,[72]andtheferromagneticandantiferromagneticphasesofspinsonatomic
lattices.[73]

Condensedmatterphysicsisthelargestfieldofcontemporaryphysics.Historically,condensedmatter
physicsgrewoutofsolidstatephysics,whichisnowconsideredoneofitsmainsubfields.[74]Theterm
condensedmatterphysicswasapparentlycoinedbyPhilipAndersonwhenherenamedhisresearch
grouppreviouslysolidstatetheoryin1967.[75]In1978,theDivisionofSolidStatePhysicsofthe
AmericanPhysicalSocietywasrenamedastheDivisionofCondensedMatterPhysics.[74]Condensed
matterphysicshasalargeoverlapwithchemistry,materialsscience,nanotechnologyand
engineering.[68]

Astrophysics

Astrophysicsandastronomyaretheapplicationofthetheories Velocitydistributiondataofagasofrubidiumatoms,
andmethodsofphysicstothestudyofstellarstructure,stellar confirmingthediscoveryofanewphaseofmatter,the
evolution,theoriginoftheSolarSystem,andrelatedproblems BoseEinsteincondensate
ofcosmology.Becauseastrophysicsisabroadsubject,
astrophysiciststypicallyapplymanydisciplinesofphysics,
includingmechanics,electromagnetism,statisticalmechanics,thermodynamics,quantummechanics,relativity,nuclearand
particlephysics,andatomicandmolecularphysics.[76]

ThediscoverybyKarlJanskyin1931thatradiosignalswereemittedbycelestialbodiesinitiatedthescienceofradio
astronomy.Mostrecently,thefrontiersofastronomyhavebeenexpandedbyspaceexploration.Perturbationsand
interferencefromtheearth'satmospheremakespacebasedobservationsnecessaryforinfrared,ultraviolet,gammaray,and
Xrayastronomy.
Thedeepestvisiblelightimageofthe
Physicalcosmologyisthestudyoftheformationandevolutionoftheuniverseonitslargestscales.AlbertEinstein'stheory
universe,theHubbleUltraDeepField
ofrelativityplaysacentralroleinallmoderncosmologicaltheories.Intheearly20thcentury,Hubble'sdiscoverythatthe
universeisexpanding,asshownbytheHubblediagram,promptedrivalexplanationsknownasthesteadystateuniverse
andtheBigBang.

TheBigBangwasconfirmedbythesuccessofBigBangnucleosynthesisandthediscoveryofthecosmicmicrowavebackgroundin1964.TheBigBangmodel
restsontwotheoreticalpillars:AlbertEinstein'sgeneralrelativityandthecosmologicalprinciple.CosmologistshaverecentlyestablishedtheCDMmodelofthe
evolutionoftheuniverse,whichincludescosmicinflation,darkenergy,anddarkmatter.
NumerouspossibilitiesanddiscoveriesareanticipatedtoemergefromnewdatafromtheFermiGammaraySpaceTelescopeovertheupcomingdecadeandvastly
reviseorclarifyexistingmodelsoftheuniverse.[77][78]Inparticular,thepotentialforatremendousdiscoverysurroundingdarkmatterispossibleoverthenext
severalyears.[79]Fermiwillsearchforevidencethatdarkmatteriscomposedofweaklyinteractingmassiveparticles,complementingsimilarexperimentswiththe
LargeHadronColliderandotherundergrounddetectors.

IBEXisalreadyyieldingnewastrophysicaldiscoveries:"NooneknowswhatiscreatingtheENA(energeticneutralatoms)ribbon"alongtheterminationshockof
thesolarwind,"buteveryoneagreesthatitmeansthetextbookpictureoftheheliosphereinwhichtheSolarSystem'senvelopingpocketfilledwiththesolar
wind'schargedparticlesisplowingthroughtheonrushing'galacticwind'oftheinterstellarmediumintheshapeofacometiswrong."[80]

Currentresearch
Researchinphysicsiscontinuallyprogressingonalargenumberoffronts.

Incondensedmatterphysics,animportantunsolvedtheoreticalproblemisthatofhightemperaturesuperconductivity.[81]
Manycondensedmatterexperimentsareaimingtofabricateworkablespintronicsandquantumcomputers.[68][82]

Inparticlephysics,thefirstpiecesofexperimentalevidenceforphysicsbeyondtheStandardModelhavebeguntoappear.
Foremostamongtheseareindicationsthatneutrinoshavenonzeromass.Theseexperimentalresultsappeartohavesolved
thelongstandingsolarneutrinoproblem,andthephysicsofmassiveneutrinosremainsanareaofactivetheoreticaland
experimentalresearch.TheLargeHadronColliderhasalreadyfoundtheHiggsBoson,butfutureresearchaimstoproveor
disprovethesupersymmetry,whichextendstheStandardModelofparticlephysics.Researchonthenatureofthemajor FeynmandiagramsignedbyR.P.
mysteriesofdarkmatteranddarkenergyisalsocurrentlyongoing.[83] Feynman.

Theoreticalattemptstounifyquantummechanicsandgeneralrelativityintoasingletheoryofquantumgravity,aprogram
ongoingforoverhalfacentury,havenotyetbeendecisivelyresolved.ThecurrentleadingcandidatesareMtheory,superstringtheoryandloopquantumgravity.

Manyastronomicalandcosmologicalphenomenahaveyettobesatisfactorilyexplained,includingtheoriginofultrahighenergycosmicrays,thebaryon
asymmetry,theaccelerationoftheuniverseandtheanomalousrotationratesofgalaxies.

Althoughmuchprogresshasbeenmadeinhighenergy,quantum,andastronomicalphysics,manyeverydayphenomenainvolvingcomplexity,[84]chaos,[85]or
turbulence[86]arestillpoorlyunderstood.Complexproblemsthatseemliketheycouldbesolvedbyacleverapplicationofdynamicsandmechanicsremain
unsolvedexamplesincludetheformationofsandpiles,nodesintricklingwater,theshapeofwaterdroplets,mechanismsofsurfacetensioncatastrophes,andself
sortinginshakenheterogeneouscollections.[87]
Thesecomplexphenomenahavereceivedgrowingattentionsincethe1970sforseveralreasons,includingtheavailability
ofmodernmathematicalmethodsandcomputers,whichenabledcomplexsystemstobemodeledinnewways.Complex
physicshasbecomepartofincreasinglyinterdisciplinaryresearch,asexemplifiedbythestudyofturbulencein
aerodynamicsandtheobservationofpatternformationinbiologicalsystems.Inthe1932AnnualReviewofFluid
Mechanics,HoraceLambsaid:[88]

Iamanoldmannow,andwhenIdieandgotoheaventherearetwomattersonwhichIhopefor
enlightenment.Oneisquantumelectrodynamics,andtheotheristheturbulentmotionoffluids.Andaboutthe
formerIamratheroptimistic. Atypicaleventdescribedbyphysics:
amagnetlevitatingabovea
superconductordemonstratesthe
Seealso Meissnereffect.

General Relatedfields

Glossaryofclassicalphysics Astronomy
Glossaryofphysics Chemistry
Indexofphysicsarticles Engineering
Listofelementaryphysicsformulae,Elementaryphysicsformulae Mathematics
Listofimportantpublicationsinphysics Cosmology
Listofphysicists
Listofphysicsconceptsinprimaryandsecondaryeducation Interdisciplinaryfieldsincorporating
curricula physics
Outlineofphysics
Physicsoutreach Acoustics
Perfectioninphysicsandchemistry Biophysics
Relationshipbetweenmathematicsandphysics Econophysics
Timelineofdevelopmentsintheoreticalphysics Geophysics
Timelineoffundamentalphysicsdiscoveries Nanotechnology
Neurophysics
Mainbranches Psychophysics

Classicalmechanics
Electromagnetism
Modernphysics
Optics
Thermodynamics
Notes
a.Theterm'universe'isdefinedaseverythingthatphysicallyexists:theentiretyofspaceandtime,allformsofmatter,energyandmomentum,andthephysicallawsand
constantsthatgovernthem.However,theterm'universe'mayalsobeusedinslightlydifferentcontextualsenses,denotingconceptssuchasthecosmosorthephilosophical
world.
b.FrancisBacon's1620NovumOrganumwascriticalinthedevelopmentofscientificmethod.[10]
c.CalculuswasindependentlydevelopedataroundthesametimebyGottfriedWilhelmLeibnizwhileLeibnizwasthefirsttopublishhisworkanddevelopmuchofthenotation
usedforcalculustoday,Newtonwasthefirsttodevelopcalculusandapplyittophysicalproblems.SeealsoLeibnizNewtoncalculuscontroversy
d.See,forexample,theinfluenceofKantandRitteronrsted.
e.Conceptswhicharedenotedhypotheticalcanchangewithtime.Forexample,theatomofnineteenthcenturyphysicswasdenigratedbysome,includingErnstMach'scritique
ofLudwigBoltzmann'sformulationofstatisticalmechanics.BytheendofWorldWarII,theatomwasnolongerdeemedhypothetical.
f.Yet,universalismisencouragedinthecultureofphysics.Forexample,theWorldWideWeb,whichwasinnovatedatCERNbyTimBernersLee,wascreatedinservicetothe
computerinfrastructureofCERN,andwas/isintendedforusebyphysicistsworldwide.ThesamemightbesaidforarXiv.org

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Furtherreading
PeterWoit(January2017).FakePhysics(https://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=9053),

Externallinks
General Lookupphysicsin
Wiktionary,thefree
EncyclopediaofPhysics(http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Encyclopedia_of_physics)atScholarpedia dictionary.
deHaas,Paul,HistoricPapersinPhysics(20thCentury)(https://web.archive.org/web/20090826083339/http://home.t
iscali.nl/physis/HistoricPaper/)attheWaybackMachine(archived26August2009)
PhysicsCentral(http://www.physicscentral.com/)WebportalrunbytheAmericanPhysicalSociety(http://www.ap Wikibookshasabookon
thetopicof:Physics
s.org/)
Physics.org(http://www.physics.org/)WebportalrunbytheInstituteofPhysics(http://www.iop.org/)
TheSkeptic'sGuidetoPhysics(http://musr.physics.ubc.ca/~jess/hr/skept/) Wikibookshasabookon
UsenetPhysicsFAQ(http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/)AFAQcompiledbysci.physicsandotherphysics thetopicof:PhysicsStudy
newsgroups Guide
WebsiteoftheNobelPrizeinphysics(http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/)
WorldofPhysics(http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/)Anonlineencyclopedicdictionaryofphysics Wikibookshasabookon
Nature:Physics(http://www.nature.com/naturephysics) thetopicof:FHSST
Physics
Physics(http://physics.aps.org/)announced17July2008bytheAmericanPhysicalSociety
Physics/Publications(https://dmoztools.net//Science/Physics/Publications/)atDMOZ
Physicsworld.com(http://physicsworld.com/)NewswebsitefromInstituteofPhysicsPublishing(http://publishing. Wikisourcehasoriginal
iop.org/) worksonthetopic:Physics
PhysicsCentral(http://physlib.com/)includesarticlesonastronomy,particlephysics,andmathematics.
Wikiversityhaslearning
TheVegaScienceTrust(http://www.vega.org.uk/)sciencevideos,includingphysics
resourcesabout
Video:Physics"Lightning"TourwithJustinMorgan(https://archive.org/details/JustinMorganPhysicsLightningTour/) Category:Physics
52partvideocourse:TheMechanicalUniverse...andBeyond(http://www.learner.org/resources/series42.html)Note:
alsoavailableat01Introduction(https://web.archive.org/web/20121027101214/http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6774539130229106025)at
GoogleVideos
HyperPhysicswebsite(http://hyperphysics.phyastr.gsu.edu/Hbase/hframe.html)HyperPhysics,aphysicsandastronomymindmapfromGeorgiaState
University

Organizations

AIP.org(http://www.aip.org/index.html)WebsiteoftheAmericanInstituteofPhysics
APS.org(http://www.aps.org/)WebsiteoftheAmericanPhysicalSociety
IOP.org(http://www.iop.org/)WebsiteoftheInstituteofPhysics
PlanetPhysics.org(http://planetphysics.org/)
RoyalSociety(http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/)Althoughnotexclusivelyaphysicsinstitution,ithasastronghistoryofphysics
SPSNational(http://www.spsnational.org/)WebsiteoftheSocietyofPhysicsStudents

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