What is it?
Physics is the science concerned with the discovery and characterization of universal laws which govern matter, energy, space, and time.
Since antiquity, natural philosophers have sought to explain physical phenomena such as the movement of the planets and the nature of matter, and this pursuit was formerly the study known as "physics" (once spelled physike, in imitation of Aristotle). The emergence of modern physics as a science distinct from natural philosophy began with the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries and continued through the dawn of modern physics in the early 20th century. The field has continued to expand, with a growing body of research leading to discoveries such as the Standard Model of fundamental particles and a detailed history of the universe, along with revolutionary new technologies like nuclear weapons and semiconductors. Research today progresses on a vast array of topics, including high-temperature superconductivity, quantum computing, the Higgs boson, and the attempt to develop a theory of quantum gravity. Firmly grounded in observations and experiments, with a rich set of theories expressed in elegant mathematics, physics has made a multitude of contributions to philosophy, science, and technology.
Discoveries in physics resonate throughout the natural sciences, and physics has been described as the "fundamental science" because other fields such as chemistry and biology investigate systems whose properties are based upon the laws of physics. Chemistry, for example, is the science of substances formed by atoms and molecules in bulk, but the properties of chemical compounds are determined by the physical properties of their underlying molecules.
Experimental physics is closely related to engineering and technology. Physicists involved in basic research design and perform experiments with equipment such as particle accelerators and lasers, whereas physicists involved in applied research invent technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and transistors.
Theoretical physics is closely related to mathematics, which provides the language of physical theories, and physicists often rely on numerical analysis and computer simulations. The fields of mathematical and computational physics are active areas of research. Theoretical physics often relates to philosophy and metaphysics when it deals with speculative ideas like multidimensional spaces and parallel universes.
By: jwspackerfan - 2007-05-25 13:55:03