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Everyone has heard the story of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree as he discovered gravity when a falling apple hit him on the head. Physics is just like the fallen apple, it will connect with you and open a world of understanding that you never before imagined.
The journey to understanding physics begins with a realm of the world that most people don’t think about consciously. Sometimes visible and other times invisible forces are acting upon the objects around us.
Of course, people understand classical physics in the practical sense of Newton’s laws of motion and force when we see a ball rolling down a hill or play pool at a bar. But, physics is really the study of matter and energy. Matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having a volume. Energy is a measurable property that is transferred to an object to perform work or to heat such an object.
Ancient Greek physics drew mainly from other fields of study such as astronomy, mechanics, and what could be humanly experienced. Its focus at the time was to explain nature and all the way up to the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries, physics involved a lot of supernatural qualities and theistic reasoning for the occurrences of everyday events.
Nicolaus Copernicus was one of the first physicists to break through these old conceptions of theistic, celestial physics. His argument for the earth orbiting the sun was, at the time, heretical and most people believed the opposite.
There are some amazing online courses from which you can get a solid understanding of classical and foundational physics such as at the MIT OpenCourseWare Physics class. Here they will discuss the historical beginnings and move on to electricity, magnetism, relativity, and other aspects of more modern physics.
University of California - Irvine (UCI) also has a great program with the mathematical aspects of physics as a focus. Learning about how human understanding of physics and the physical world has evolved over time is a fascinating focus of study that people have dedicated their whole lives to. By reading this you are taking the first steps on this enlightening physics journey.
To understand physics better, it helps to understand some of the people that helped establish many of the important theories we still use today.
Niels Bohr left a huge mark on the field by growing our understanding of the atomic structure. Known as the Bohr Model, he developed a system containing a small and dense nucleus surrounded by orbiting electrons which allows us to visualize the atomic particles and how they move within the orbitals. This was a formative discovery for the field of physics.
Another field changing physicist was Max Planck. Known for his mathematical constant, Planck developed a way of calculating a photon’s energy by multiplying the constant he developed with a photon’s frequency.
Werner Heisenberg on the other hand made a big contribution to the field of physics through his uncertainty principle. It asserts that there is a lack of predictability in knowing the quantities and locations of certain pairs of particles based on their beginning conditions.
The few physicists mentioned are some of the founders of the field. Their insights and trials have become the standard theories for all those who learn and use physics.
Physics as a field of study is broken into many different subcategories such as Newtonian, Quantum, Thermodynamics, Particle, and Electrical to name a few. Newton was one of the founding fathers of Physics due to his formulation of the three laws of motion. These three laws describe the relationship between motion and the objects it affects. He is also credited with the law of universal gravitation which suggests that all bodies exert some gravitational force against other bodies.
Thermodynamics is another subset of Physics that establishes a measurable connection between heat and mechanical energy. In 1849 through a series of experiments, James Prescott Joule published results showing that heat is a form of energy. This discovery turned out to be incredibly important to the development of steam engines. He later expanded upon his discovery to the interchangeability of mechanical, chemical, thermal, and electrical forms of work. These few subtopics of Physics can be expanded into entire careers of study and research.
Most universities will have a Physics program where you can learn about these subsets and broaden your understanding of this formative and insightful field. These are just some of the options you can choose from when you begin your studies. Luckily, there are tutors on the platform SuperProf that offer private lessons on these very subjects and more.
Physics is an incredibly challenging subject but incredibly gratifying. The intricacies and many subcategories of study can make it difficult to choose just one focus. But since all physics subsets and categories are all interconnected, there is no time lost by learning one over the other first.
The great aspect is that the complex theories trying to make sense of a world both known and unknown can awaken new interests and curiosities that you didn’t know you had. Keep in mind these focuses are not exclusive of each other. They can be learned in conjunction and fit together into the broader map of the world in which we live.
As you learn more and more the puzzle pieces of these different subjects will come together. You might need a tutor or two to help with missing pieces.
Superprof's tutors have been where you are and can pinpoint exactly what the missing links to your study are. They now teach because they enjoy the subject and like seeing others learn about it too. As we progress so does our understanding of the world. We build upon the discoveries of others and grow because others help us along the way as well. The tutors of SuperProf want to walk you through this vast subject of study and help you start making discoveries of your own. Find your own personal Superprof tutor for any physics category including space and time, relativity and or electromagnetism.
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