Physics is the science that seeks to understand physical phenomena in the world, namely, how matter and energy interact. It is fascinating to learn about Physics because it helps us to understand how things happen. A good grasp of Physics has also proven to be useful as it has contributed to the invention of countless technologies that revolutionise the way humans live.
If you want to learn more about Physics, it will be helpful to know about the different branches of Physics. Some of the branches, like mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, and electricity, may sound familiar if you are a secondary school student. These are topics covered in the O level syllabus, and included in physics tuition for Sec 3 and Sec 4 students.
You may have learnt about these topics without giving a second thought to the classification of the different branches. Hence, here is an overview of some of the more popular branches of Physics.
Mechanics is the study of how things move. Most commonly, Physics students learn about Newton’s laws of motions, which explains movements and how they change in different situations. Within this branch of study, principles such as mass, density, forces, pressure, energy, work, and power also come into play. More recently, Physicists have also started to explore quantum mechanics, which is the mechanics of subatomic particles such as electrons, neutrons, and protons.
Thermodynamics covers the concept of heat, including the effect of heat, transfer of heat, and its relation to energy and work. This branch of Physics stems from the work of Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot and is based on the four laws of thermodynamics. Knowing the behaviour of heat has contributed to the development of technology like the refrigerator and air conditioner.
Acoustics is concerned with how sound waves are produced, transmitted, controlled, and received. It also explores how sound behaves in different mediums, that is, in liquids, solids, and gases. Understanding acoustics has great implications on how we design performance spaces like concert halls, and for developing scanning devices like ultrasounds and sonars.
Nuclear physics deals with the study of the nucleus in atoms, and the interactions of its constituents. Mainly, a large part of nuclear physics today is geared towards harvesting energy from nuclear reactions, as this is thought to be a clean and limitless form of energy that could replace electricity.
Optics is a branch of Physics that looks at electromagnetic radiation, namely, light. It explores the behaviours of light and how it interacts with matter. Principles of optics have been widely used in all aspects of life, including the invention of the telescope, spectacles, cameras, and fibre optics.
Biophysics is the investigation of biological phenomena using physics concepts. For example, it looks at how molecules in the body move and interact. Most notably, the discovery of the DNA structure by James Watson and Francis Crick is one of the most groundbreaking achievements in the field of biophysics. Today, biophysics continues to be used to develop sophisticated imaging techniques like the MRI, CT scan, X-ray, and so on.
Astrophysics is the exploration of things of the universe using physics principles and techniques. Physics theories about light can be used to learn about the characteristics of celestial bodies such as stars and planets.
As Physics is such a broad and fascinating subject, there is bound to be something that interests everyone. If you want to learn more about the various branches of Physics, it’s time to pay attention in your Physics tuition class.