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what is physics: The interaction of energy and matter

Updated on January 30, 2012

What is Physics by definition

Physics is defined as:

  1. The branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics, distinguished from...
  2. The physical properties and phenomena of something: "the physics of plasma"

What is physics? Is a tough question it is a natural science which studies matter and the way it moves through space time, it focuses on the interactions between forces, energy and matter.

In a more general sense it is the analysis of nature to determine how the universe behaves. This is a bold statement and physics asks some of the biggest questions posed by man and developped through observation of reality.


How did the universe begin

Is one of the biggest questions posed by physics
Is one of the biggest questions posed by physics | Source

What is Physics: The big questions

Physicists asks some very big questions such as:

  • How did the universe begin?
  • If gravitational waves really exist how can we detect them? what will they tell us about the universe? Will they come from expected sources, or will they surprise us?
  • Are there additional dimensions?
  • Why is there an arrow of time; that is, why is the future so much different from the past?
  • Is the universe really full of "dark energy"? If so, what causes it?
  • Is there really a Higgs boson, as predicted by the Standard Model? If so, what is its mass? If not, what breaks the symmetry between the electromagnetic and weak forces, and gives all the elementary particles their masses?
  • What is behind quantum mechanics

Answering these questions is no easy thing Physicists from different branches are coming together to try answer these and many other questions. Many of these questions will be given theories developed by theoretical physicists which will then be tested in reality and will keep being tested until proven incorrect and therefore need modification. This video gives the top 10 questions put forwards by some of the worlds leading theoretical physicists.

Branches of Physics

A good diagram depicting the relationship of branches of physics with relation to speed and  size.
A good diagram depicting the relationship of branches of physics with relation to speed and size.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

What is physics: Disciplines

The different branches of physics are as follows this list is not exhaustive:

  • Astrophysics - Study of the physics of the universe
  • Atomic Physics - Study of atoms as a system without any outside influence.
  • Biophysics - this is interdisciplinary and uses physical concepts to study biological systems
  • Chemical Physics - this interdisciplinary branch that studies chemical processes from the point of view of physics.
  • Molecular Physics - This is closely associated with atomic physics but is more interested in the physical properties of molecules and chemical bonds.
  • Classical physics - this is quite vague, but is usually physics developed before relativity and quantum mechanics.
  • Acoustics - Is not just sound its the physics of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids.
  • Electromagnetism - this is the study of the behaviour and of the waves of the electromagnetic spectrum and instruments used to detect them.
  • Condensed matter physics - As it says on the tin studies the physical properties of condensed phases of matter
  • Fluid dynamics - The physics of the flow of liquids
  • Geophysics - The physics of the Earth
  • Nuclear Physics - Studies the building blocks and interactions of atomic nuclei
  • Particle Physics - This is the physics of the existence and interactions of particle
  • Quantum Physics - The study of the very small where wave-particle duality rules, a very mathematical based branch.
  • Thermodynamics - Is the study of the transfer of heat and work done on bodies and on radiation in regions of space.
  • Theoretical Physics - This uses mathematical models and abstractions to explain or predict natural occurrences.

As you can see there are a lot of branches of physics and this means that it is a very diverse subject area, so what is physics? It is the study of all those things above.


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    • profile image

      jordan 19 months ago choice

    • dipless profile image

      dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

      haha thank you very much for that :P hope you found it interesting. Thanks for commenting.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a very interesting hub. I am not trying to be funny so please excuse me for this, but I can answer a few questions. Yes the question about time can be answered along with matter. Because the older I am, the more wrinkles I get.