Science History

History of Physics

Two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional analogy of spacetime curvature

Modern science includes a variety of fields and branches to conduct a more thorough study of a specific subject. One of the main fields of science is physics, which most of us probably already know.

Physics sparks interest to many people because it provides scientific explanations to the different phenomena we see every day. Various things in our world may catch our interest, such as gravity and other natural occurrences present here on Earth. Furthermore, this point of curiosity is not limited in our world, but also in other planets and any other things present in the outer space. Thankfully, physics had already developed in a way that could provide us enough scientific knowledge to satisfy our curiosity.

In this article, we are going to look into the properties of physics, and mainly – what is its history?

What is Physics?

Many of us may already have a brief knowledge about physics since it was a part of our education, wherein our science teachers taught us its fundamental principles.

Moreover, physics is a part of natural science devoted to the study of matter, its motion, and behavior through space and time. It also conducts studies about other terminologies, such as energy and force. As mentioned earlier, physics is one of the main fields of science, which holds fundamental scientific disciplines that help understand the behavior of our universe.

Different Branches of Physics

Deepest visible-light image of the universe.

Interestingly, physics has different branches that focus on specific studies about our universe. Each branch shows a distinct explanation of individual subjects related to the fundamentals of physics.

  • Acoustics – Acoustics focuses on the study of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids, which includes vibration and sound.
  • Aeronautics –Aeronautics devotes to the study of aircraft design, construction, and navigation.
  • Astronomy –Astronomy is probably the most significant branch of physics since it focuses on the study of outer space.
  • Mechanics –Mechanics is a branch of physics that focuses on the design, construction, and use of machinery or mechanical structures.
  • Optics –Apparent to its name, optics is the study of light and vision.
  • Robotics –this is one of the modern forms of physics, which focuses on the study of technology in the design, fabrication, and application of robots.

What is the origin of physics?

Portrait of Galileo Galilei

Among all the branches of science, experts often consider physics as the oldest. We can trace back the earliest accounts of knowledge related to physics to 3000 BC in Sumer, ancient Egpyt, and Indus Valley Civilisation. These ancient civilizations built knowledge about the basic understanding of physics, particularly about the motion of the Sun, Moon, and stars.

However, unlike our modern knowledge of physics, ancient civilizations described the stars and planets as representations of gods. Early studies of physics are far from our modern world, and it does not meet the scientific explanation that we have today. Despite the lack of scientific reasoning, this ancient study of stars and planets became the foundation of astronomy, which sparked the interest to several philosophers.

Sometime during the Archaic period, the observation of physics gradually shifted into a more realistic point of view. It was when ancient philosophers, such as the Greek astronomer Thales, proposed that every event occurred due to a natural cause. This speculation of the natural world led to a broader knowledge of physics; it influenced later philosophers and scientists to reject non-naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. Instead, they promoted the practice of observation and reasoning to reach a conclusion.

Fast-forward to the 16th century when physics made a breakthrough from the works of various scientists, such as Galileo Galilei. Galileo was a famous Italian astronomer and physicist who made several contributions to the advancement of physics, which made a significant impact on the scientific world. Some of his notable works are his discoveries of the four massive moons of Jupiter using a telescope. His works influenced future scientists, which is also the reason why he is often regarded as the ‘father of observational astronomy,’ the ‘father of modern physics,’ the ‘father of the scientific method,’ and the ‘father of modern science.’

During the 17th century, physics reached another milestone. The English physicist and astronomer, Sir Isaac Newton, made his contributions to the advancement of science. His work was one of the most influential and famous up to our modern world. It was primarily due to the Universal Law of Gravitation and Newton’s Law of Motion. These scientific advances made by Newton became a scientific standard for other scientists all over the globe, which we still use until today.

Moreover, the 20th century had its remarkable share of scientific advancement. The German physicist Albert Einstein theorized the theory of relativity, which consists of the “world’s most famous equation.” Aside from the theory of relativity, Einstein is well-known all around the globe for his various works in the field of physics, which made him one of the two pillars of modern physics. He is undoubtedly the most influential physicist of the 20th century and is often regarded as the greatest scientist of all time. His works made a huge impact not just in the scientific world, but also in our pop culture.

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