Why Study Physics?

There are hundreds of possible college majors and minors. So why should you study physics?

Physics is interesting.

Physics helps us to understand how the world around us works, from can openers, light bulbs and cell phones to muscles, lungs and brains; from paints, piccolos and pirouettes to cameras, cars and cathedrals; from earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes to quarks, DNA and black holes. From the prosaic . . . to the profound . . . to the poetic. . .

Physics helps us to organize the universe. It deals with fundamentals, and helps us to see the connections between seemly disparate phenomena.

Physics gives us powerful tools to help us to express our creativity, to see the world in new ways and then to change it.

Physics is useful.

Physics provides quantitative and analytic skills needed for analyzing data and solving problems in the sciences, engineering and medicine, as well as in economics, finance, management, law and public policy.

Physics is the basis for most modern technology, and for the tools and instruments used in scientific, engineering and medical research and development. Manufacturing is dominated by physics-based technology.

Physics helps you to help others. Doctors that don’t understand physics can be dangerous. Medicine without physics technology would be barbaric. Schools without qualified physics teachers cut their students off from a host of well-respected, well paying careers.

Students who study physics do better on SAT, MCAT and GRE tests. Physics majors do better on MCATs than bio or chem majors.

Majoring in physics provides excellent preparation for graduate study not just in physics, but in all engineering and information/computer science disciplines; in the life sciences including molecular biology, genetics and neurobiology; in earth, atmospheric and ocean science; in finance and economics; and in public policy and journalism.

Physics opens the door to many career options.

More options, in fact, than almost any other college subject. Conversely,not taking physics closes the door to more career options. You can’t become an engineer or a doctor without physics; you’re far less likely to get a job in teaching; your video games will be boring and your animated movies won’t look realistic; and your policy judgments on global warming will be less compelling.

College and corporate recruiters recognize the value of physics training.

Although the number of job ads specifically asking for physicists is smaller than, e.g., for engineers, the job market for those with skills in physics is more diverse and is always strong.

Because physics encourages quantitative, analytical and “big picture” thinking, physicists are more likely to end up in top management and policy positions than other technical professionals. Of the three top science-related positions in the U.S. government, two – Energy Secretary and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – are currently held by physicists.

Physics is challenging.

This is one aspect that scares off many students. But it is precisely one of the most important reasons why you should study physics!

All of us – including professional physicists – find college physics courses challenging, because they require us to master the many concepts and skills that make training in physics so valuable in such a wide range of careers.

This also means that physics is much harder to learn after college (on your own or on the job) than other subjects like history or psychology or computer programming. You’ll get the most bang for your college buck if you take physics and other hard-to-learn subjects in your undergraduate years. You don’t need to earn As or even Bs. You just need to learn enough to have a basis for future learning and professional growth.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICS TO MAN AND THE SOCIETY.

INTRODUCTION:

Physics – the study of matter, energy and their interactions – is an international enterprise, which plays a key role in the future progress of humankind. The support of physics education and research in all countries is important because: physics is and exciting intellectual adventure that inspires young people and expands the frontiers of our knowledge about nature.

Physics is the most basic of the physical sciences. From chemistry and geology through to biology and cosmology, we understand science in terms of the concepts developed in physics. Not only this, but many of the tools on which the advances of science and technology depend are direct product of physics.

The interests and concerns of physicists have always formed the basis of future technology.

In medicine we use X-rays, radioisotope and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, laser, electron microscopes, synchrotron radiation, and electronics all depend on advances made in physics.

Where would our modern western economies be without computers?—we could not build the electronics that modern computers rely on without a knowledge of quantum mechanics. Our modern world is much more connected than in previous historical times. These days we travel far, communicate easily and quickly, and conduct business around the world effortlessly. In fact almost no place on earth has been excluded from the modern interconnected world.

We are not only connected with physics through modern technology we are connected at a much more basic level through mother nature. The tsunami in Sumatra Indonesia is a prime example. Not only was it catastrophic for the local area the laws of physics saw this tsunami travel across the Indian Ocean killing over 300,000 in Southeast Asia, and traveling through more than 30 other countries resulting in more than 500 deaths. This was the law of physics in action.

But as much proof as there is that physics has played an important role in the connectivity of all parts of the planet the world is still a much divided place. In developed countries you see an almost 100% literacy rate and a $30,000 mean capital income, and a life expectancy of 80. While in developing nations you see a literacy rate lower than 50% and a mean capital income that’s around $2000, and a life expectancy of 40. There is much more for physics, the scientific world, and governments to do to create equality with that interactivity.

Kofi Anna the UN Secretary General has been quick to point out the ongoing tragedies throughout the developing world that are directly tied to disease, poverty, and the degradation of the environment. He is also quick to point out that the lack of access to physics and other sciences as well as technology has attributed to many of these problems. Sadly the scientific community spends most of it’s time working on solutions for the developed world yet most of the population on earth can be found in nations that are developing.
Physics has the capability of playing a major role in finding solutions to many of the problems facing the human race. Of course it does not have all the answers but the science is developed enough to have created nuclear weapons which remain a global threat, then surely it can be used for the betterment of all people around the globe.

Of course politics, socio-economic factors, and acceptance by the people all play a role in the development of a nation. But physics, engineering, and other technological and scientific feats can transform a developing nation to a developed nation. Just look at what the role of physics has accomplished in just the past 200 years.
Physics can play an important role in developing strategies to combat climate change, in the development of cleaner energies, and in the development of technological advancements. Then why is it that developing nations spend such a small portion of the GDP on research and development in these areas? Is it because the benefits of science and physics specifically are not fully recognized in industrialized and developing nations? Is it that they really do not want to face the idea that our world is in desperate need of change to ensure we do not destroy ourselves?
Physics and technology must work together to resolve the need for new technologies that will decrease the damage to our planet, for strategies to ensure that the people of developing countries have the tools to progress, the need for solutions to deadly diseases that remain a threat, and the need for solutions to the increasing demands we place on our resources before they are depleted.
The role of physics in our modern world is more important than in any other time in history.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICS TO SOCIETY

Physics generates fundamental knowledge needed for the future technological advances that will continue to drive the economic engines of the world.

Physics contributes to the technological infrastructure and provides trained personnel needed to take advantage of scientific advances and discoveries.

Physics is an important element in the education of chemists, engineers and computer scientists, as well as practitioners of the other physical and biomedical sciences.

Physics extends and enhances our understanding of other disciplines, such as the earth, agricultural, chemical, biological, and environmental sciences, plus astrophysics and cosmology – subjects of substantial importance to all peoples of the world.

Physics improves our quality of life by providing the basic understanding necessary for developing new instrumentation and techniques for medical applications, such as computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, ultrasonic imaging, and laser surgery.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICS TO MAN

Physics is important to man’s life because it is used in

Cooking food
Cleaning clothes
Watching TV
Heating your hose
Playing sports
Everything else in your life

Physics plays an important role in health
Economic development
Education
Energy and
The environment.

Physics has had an increasingly important impact on the average person’s daily life. For example, Physicists played an essential role in the development of:

The Transistor-: The basis of all modern electronics, including radio, television, computers, and telecommunications.

The Laser And Laser Diodes: Now used widely in CD players, grocerybar code scanners medical treatment, and telecommunications.

The Digital Computer–much of the early development (and some of the most recent) have been motivated by basic research.

Fiber Optics: Now finding widespread application in high-speed data and voice transmission networks.

The Global Positioning System: Uses satellites and precise timing to allow positions to be allocated to within a few feet anywhere on the surface of the earth.

The Hologram: Uses on credit card, driver’s licenses, and other documents to prevent fraud.

The World Wide Web (W.W.W)–originally designed by physicist for one to be able to access the world.

Medical Imaging Techniques: Such as the sonogram, the CAT scan, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs).

Medical Treatment Techniques: Using radiation and charged particle accelerators.

New Micro-Sensors: For “smart machines” and “smart buildings,” faster and smaller computers, computer disks that can store information in a smaller space, improved chemical processing to help the environment and reduce energy use, faster and cheaper telecommunications.

THE FOLLOWING ARE THE VARIOUS IMPORTANCES OF PHYSICS TO MAN AND THE SOCIETY.

Physics Improves Health;

In medical technology, positron emission tomography (PET) Lets neurologists see how energy flows inside the brain to see where problems could be occurring.

Physics Connects the World;

The telecommunications industry, including the development of the internet, has benefited from physics research in telecommunications from radio waves to fiber optic cable.

Physics Improves Technology;

The computing industry depends on physics research in semiconductors and magnetism in order to build processors and disk ever smaller and denser.

Physics Drives Progress;

Physics research benefits the transportation industry in everything from what materials to build cars of to how to build efficient engines to navigating using the global positioning system.

Physics Clears the Air;

Physics is used in environmental science to both detect problems and to build systems that are better for the environment with technologies such as solar power and plasma physics.

Physics Fills the Home;

Many consumer goods developed from physics research. CDs are possible because of refinements in laser technology. Many household gadgets have microprocessors such as microwaves and phones.

Physics Designs the Future;

Research in materials physics has led to many innovations in the substances from which products are made. One now-common material is Teflon®. Other substances are now used to make many items from sports equipment to earthquake-resistant buildings.

PHYSICS LUNCHES NEW BUSINESS;

The defense department started the Global Positioning System (GPS), which uses 24 satellites. GPS was possible because of the atomic clock. Now GPS technology has many uses from being in road maps in cars to perceiving shifts in the tectonic plates.

PHYSICS IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL OF THE SCIENCES;

It is concerned with the most basic building blocks of all things – from ants to antennas, from quarks to quasars. The study of physics means trying to find out what the universe is made of, and how these things move and interact with each other. So in one sense, all the other sciences are built on the knowledge gained through the study of physics.

PHYSICS IS BEAUTIFUL;

Physicists love simplicity. They are constantly striving to find the most fundamental ideas that can be used to describe even the most complex of phenomena. For example Newton found that only a very small number of

concepts could be used to describe just about all of the mechanical world – from steam engines to the motion of the planets. Not only is this beautiful, it’s downright amazing!

PHYSICS TEACHES YOU TO THINK;

This might seem like a strange statement. The study of all subjects teach you to think. But because physics deals with the most basic concepts, the application of such techniques as “Separation of Variables” and “The Scientific Method” are never more clear than they are in the study of physics. Once mastered you will find that these methods can be applied to all subjects, including the business world and just coping with everyday life.

PHYSICS GIVES YOU A NEW APPRECIATION OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU;

You can look a rainbow and say “Wow, pretty colors!”, or you can marvel at the amazing interactions between photons and electrons that come together in that particular way when light from the sun strikes spherical water droplets in the sky, and that you perceive as a multicolored arc suspended in the air. Now that’s awe!

PHYSICS IS FUN;

Lastly, studying physics gives you the opportunity of playing with a lot of really cool toys!

IN ADDICTION:

Many pioneers in molecular biology were trained as physicists e.g. Francis Crick, one of the two discoverers of

DNA.

A large number of astronomers were also trained as physicist.

Without physics, cars wouldn’t have being developed to take us to our various destinations.

TV’s, Light will not have been invented.

We would not have known about space,

Computer Games,

How water boils,

Model financial Market,

Shape futuristic buildings and structures.

SUMMARY & CONCLUSION

Physics is a creative subject,

The concepts of physics don’t come easily. Someone has to come up with a theory to begin with. This is just as much a creative process as composing music. But where physics, and science in general, differ from the Arts is that no one will accept your theory unless you have some way of testing its validity. Experimental physicists sometimes have to be enormously creative in coming up with methods of testing theories and measuring things in the world around them. For example, how do you tell that there is a planet orbiting a star that is so far away that it appears as nothing more than a spec of light in even the most powerful telescopes?

In summary, for all these reasons, physics is an essential part of the educational system and of an advanced society. We therefore urge all governments to seek advice from physicists and other scientists on matters of science policy, and to be supportive of the science of Physics.

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