22 Dec What Do You Learn From Physics?
Physics, along with chemistry and biology, is one of the 3 science subjects you can take upon reaching secondary 3. It is hugely popular amongst students who opt to pursue studies in science. Yet, is physics a subject that would interest and benefit you in terms of your future education, career and interests? Additionally, how useful is it as a subject?
In this article, we explore what physics is, sample its concepts and explain how it is applied. We look to give you a digestible introduction of physics and aid you in deciding whether or not to pursue this subject.
What is Physics
As alluded to earlier, physics is a branch of science that explores matter, forces and their effects. In doing so, we come to understand how things move in space and time, while comprehending how the universe functions.
Physics has been instrumental in the invention of many commonplace technologies today such as airplanes, televisions and automobiles. A common theme behind all of these innovations is the use of energy and the forces that act on these objects.
When discussing physics, we focus on the use and behaviour of energy in relation to natural forces that are exerted on matter. Examples of such natural forces include that of gravitation and electromagnetic forces.
Learning About the World Through Physics
Physics can be found in the world around us, silently at work in our surroundings. Similar to the apocryphal story of how Isaac Newton formulated his theory of gravity by observing an apple fall; we too can learn about the world through physics. Understanding various physics concepts allows us to make sense of how and why many events occur around us. In this article, we will be looking at 4 important branches of physics.
Acoustics is simply put, the study of sound. From the tiny longitudinal vibrations of particles to the large scale behaviour of the sound wave as a whole, acoustics attempts to explain how sound works. With further understanding of acoustics, we have been able to apply it in areas such as:
- Architecture and interior design. Sound movement, feedback and echo planning are important aspects in all interiors. This is particularly evident in performance spaces such as concert halls, yet also in offices where excess sound generation needs to be kept down.
- Sonar technology and systems. A less witnessed application of acoustics lies in sonar technologies which use sound waves to detect objects. For example, when attempting to find a ship wreckage under the sea, sonar sound waves can be applied to detect its location.
- Ultrasound scanning in the medical field. In hospitals and clinics around the world, ultrasound is used as an imagery method to produce images of structures within your body. In turn, this helps to inform your doctors about various conditions and even guide certain surgical procedures.
Astronomy is a classic field of physics that studies celestial objects and phenomena that occur outside of Earth. As you might envision, the movement, behaviour and characteristics of the planets, stars, galaxies, black holes and more are studied under astronomy. While it may sound highly theoretical in nature, there are actually plenty of real-life applications of astronomy:
- Navigation in the past was highly dependent on celestial objects. By understanding the position of constellations and other heavenly bodies, travellers were able to orientate themselves during the night.
- The creation of calendars was also a result of early astronomy knowledge. By observing the periodic movement of bodies in the night sky, civilisations have been able to create calendars to reliably predict seasons and harvests.
- Tidal forces are a direct result of the moon and Sun’s gravitational pull on Earth’s oceans and seas. The position of the Earth relative to both the moon and the Sun give rise to different tidal forces which in turn affect the timing of the tides.
Nanotechnology & Nanophysics
As alluded to in its name, nanophysics is a field of physics that develops extremely small objects. These nanotechnology objects can only be directly observed with specialised equipment and provide unique properties that natural materials may not possess. Various applications have been made as a result of advances in nanophysics:
- Nanomedicine has been incorporated within the medical sector to deliver drugs to specific cells. This form of targeted drug delivery reduces the typical dosage required as well as improves the efficiency of the drug.
- Nanoelectronics have been widely applied within the electronics industry. For example, nano-transistors have been packed into a single chip thereby allowing for higher electron mobility.
- Nanotechnology has also found applications within the green and sustainability industry. For instance, it has been used in solar cells to improve both efficiency and performance.
Optics is a field of physics that studies the properties, actions and interactions of light. This informs our understanding of sight as well as the behaviour of visible, ultraviolet and infrared light. Common applications of optics include:
- When our eyes’ cornea is distorted, light entering the eye gets bend in different directions, resulting in blurry images being projected. Spectacles take our understanding of light behaviour and applies it to a glass that counters the known bending of light. Subsequently, the projected image becomes clear.
- Ultraviolet light is used in many industrial, dental and medical practices due to their strong ionising properties. Examples of which include for killing bacteria and curing resins.
- The everyday camera is a great example of an application of optics. By utilising a lens to focus all light rays towards a single point, a sharp image can be created. From there chemical materials or digital sensors help to collect the image.
Skills picked up
In addition to knowledge and concepts, studying physics also helps you to develop many skills. These are widely applicable in other fields and provide value in your daily activities. Some of which include:
- Learning how to collect, organize, analyse and interpret data
- Determining relationships between multiple variables
- Development of both logical and critical thinking
- Problem solving
How TSA can help you Ace O Level Physics
The Science Academy’s approach to O level physics tuition has helped countless students not only improve their performance, but also strengthen their passion for the subject. With over 20 years of combined experience, our science tutors are committed to helping our students get the most out of their science education, and instil a lifelong love of science.