Branches of Physics
Graduate school for a physicist proposes additional challenges as budding scientists ponder which branches of physics they wish to pursue for their scientific career. Physics is a sub branch of science which fundamentally applies to all forms of physical science studies. Physics acts as a root to myriad studies in the scientific community as it is provides the knowledge of how matter and energy work which are essential to the fundamental principles of biology and chemistry.
The study of acoustics involves sound, ultrasound, infrasound and vibration waves in all 3 physical states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. Acoustical engineers or acousticians are the titles provided to physicists who specialize in this branch of science. Sounds has been an instrumental tool in the development of human evolution and more recently cultural revolutions of humanity.
Astronomers are fascinated by studying the chemistry, mathematics and physics of celestial bodies as well as events that occur outside Earth’s atmosphere and throughout the universe. Plants, moons, stars, solar systems, galaxies and anomalies such as black holes, super novas, gamma ray bursts and solar radiation are some of the many areas of research explored by this discipline.
A subdivision of astronomy, astrophysics is the study of the physics of how objects interact with each other across the universe. Gravitational force, electromagnetism, particle physics, temperature, density and thermodynamics are all intertwined in how objects behave and interact with each other to allow celestial bodies to form in the complex varieties that exist today.
Atomic physics studies the interaction between electrons and the nucleus of an atom. This differs from nuclear physics which is concerned with only atomic nuclei solely. Atomic models consider atoms in isolation along with how electrons are exchanged with other atoms in proximity. Configuration of the electron shell, binding energy, kinetic energy and ionization are fundamental components of this branch of physics.
Biological systems are bound by the laws of physics like all matter leading to the necessity for biophysicists. By studying the mathematics of living structures and their DNA and RNA makeup allowed research into bioengineering, biotechnology, nanotechnology and biochemistry. The ability to alter living systems by recoding DNA is already underway in some microorganisms.
Choas theory uses mathematics to investigate the dynamics of systems which are highly vulnerable to the introduction of conditions making outcomes seemingly impossible to predict. Commonly known as “the butterfly effect”, making minor changes in initial values produce dramatically different results which can be imagined in terms of alternate realities and the creation of the universe.
Chemical physicists use the fundamental understanding of physics to analyze the complexity of chemical processes. The combination of molecular chemistry and quantum mechanics explain how chemical bonds form, how chemical reactions initiate and how nanoparticles behave. This field of science is an intertwined perspective of the elaborate interactions of physics and chemistry.
Creation of algorithmic logic as a means of problem solving to support quantitative theory is the basis of computational physics. Prediction of the behavior of systems through mathematics and modeling provides insight into the outcome of phenomena that could otherwise be difficult to observe and record. This is a key tool for many other fields of science to conduct preliminary experiments based on predictive mathematics.
Cosmology, astrophysics and astronomy are similar fields of study however cosmologists ponder particularly about the origins and the future of the universe. Dealing with the universe as a whole, phenomena such as the Big Bang, dark matter, black holes, wormholes, expansion of the known universe and a potential multiverse are dominant areas of interest in cosmology.
Also known as low temperature physics and generally pertaining to temperatures below -150°C or -238°F (123 K) and how matter behaves to cold conditions. Cryogenicists tend to avoid using the standard temperature formats of Celsius and Fahrenheit but instead use Kelvin or Rankine scale which are considered to be an absolute scale. Cryobiology, cryosurgery, cryonics, cryogenics and cryoelectronics are are subspecialties of cryophysics.
The study of crystallography explores atoms in their solid state of matter with particular focus in molecular and atomic structure. Previously the study of geometry of crystals in relation to their axises was necessary to shed light within this field however in recent years the development of x-ray diffraction allows a much greater insight into the axes and symmetry of crystals.
There are four fundamental forces of nature which determine the interactions between matter and energy which include strong interaction, weak interaction, gravitational force and electromagnetic force. Scientists that specialize in electromagnetism investigate phenomena such as electrically charged particles, magnetic attraction and electromagnetic fields.
Electrical circuits, diodes, transistors, integrated circuits and vacuum tubs are all areas of interested for a scientists who is fascinated by electronics. The flow of electrons along a predesignated pathway to process information and generate signals in telecommunication have helped advance civilization, culture and knowledge of humanity in the modern era.
The mechanics of motion in fluids in both liquid and gaseous states are investigated in studies of fluid dynamics. The subdisciplines of hydrodynamics, relating to liquid in particular, and aerodynamics, its gas equivalent, are also considered to be natural sciences which help understand the interactions between energy and matter on earth and throughout space.
Studying the Earth’s environment including how interactions such as gravity, magentic fields, volcanism, plate techtonics and hydrological cycles are influenced by each other and by celestial bodies is one of the many areas of expertise of a geophysicist. Observations can be made both in the field of natural sciences as well as by producing computer models to forcast predictions based on computational mathematics.
High Energy Physics
High energy physics is a branch that deals with the fundamental nature of the universe which utilizes particle physics to explain the origin of rare events and anomalies that can be found in space and throughout the universe. Phenomena such as solar fusion, black holes and gamma ray bursts are investigated by physicists in this field to determine how interactions between particles can cause the release of high amounts of energy.
High Pressure Physics
Temperature and pressure often go hand in hand in mathematical calculations and engineering which has led to research in the field of high temperature physics. Scientists investigation the correlation between these forces help to provide models and predictions to answer questions into the nature of how pressure and temperature create energy that is apparent in throughout the known universe.
Photons are a type of particle which behave and react differently to friction than many other known particles. Quantum electronics and optics play a vital role in this branch of science. The first known concept of a laser was developed by Albert Einstein based off of observations taken from Max Planck in his writings about the laws of radiation. The popular formula E=MC2 underlines the belief that light speed is the fastest speed known due to the distinct effect of friction on proton particles.
Mathematics has played an integral role in physics and science since ideas have begun to formulate in the minds of the scientific community. The use of mathematics in its application for problem solving and trouble shooting has led to the need for specialists pursue this branch of physics in order to prove the possibilities of theoretical philosophies and practical applications.
Mechanics pertains to the behavior of physical objects as well as how force applies and displaces objects in their environment. Knowledge of energy and friction are of key importance in this discipline which crosses physical science and engineering. The roots of mechanics came from ancient Greece in philosophies projected by Aristotle and Archimedes which were later elaborated on by Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton.
The origins of meteorology are rooted from ancient India which has evolved into the science of studying the atmosphere. Modern techniques have sprung about in the past three centuries as technology has advanced to give humanity a greater understanding of the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere. Gravity, the Earth’s spin, polarity, wind and temperature all play a crucial role in the investigation of physical and chemical phenomenons in the atmosphere.
This discipline shares many aspects with atomic physics and involves the study of molecules, atoms, chemical bonds and molecular dynamics which encompasses a variety of branches of science including physical and theoretical chemistry. The molecular orbital theory is derived from the atmoic orbital theory used in atomic physics to explain the importance of the electron orbit around a nucleus.
Nanotechnology or nanotech refers to the ability to manipulate properties of matter at the molecular, atomic and subatomic levels. The term nanoparticle is used to classify particle types that are between the size scale of 1 – 100 nanometers. Quantum mechanic theories play an integral role in the investigation of nanotechnology by providing insight into how atomic and subatomic particles interact with each other.
Nuclear physics uses the applications of the physical characteristics of the atomic nuclei to develop research into nuclear power and weapons technology. This branch of physics however is not limited to what one would imaging simply as nuclear technology but also includes a variety of other areas of exploration into magnetic resonance imaging, material engineering, geology (radio carbon dating) and medicine.
Optical sciences is the study of the properties and behavior of light along with the interactions of light, matter and energy. As an electromagnetic wave, light is currently classified by scientists by its wave length frequency in visible, ultraviolet and infrared spectrums. The discovery that light is essentially electromagnetic radition is a theory that came about in the 19th century and has continued to fascinate physicists since then.
Particle physicists have been making great strides in their research with the development of advanced technologies such as the large hadron collider developed by CERN. The ability to analyze detailed information by colliding particles together at high rates of speed has led to the discovery of new types of particles previously theorized by physicists around the world. Research into particle physics has the potential to help scientists better understand the origins of our universe and the complexity of factors that govern the world we know.
Plasma is the fourth state of matter which is characterized by heating gases to the point at which ionization occurs altering the number of electrons in the atoms (releasing electrons from the nucleus). Although we are typically taught that only 3 states of matter exist (solids, liquids and gases) ironically plasma is the fourth and most common state of matter throughout the universe which is most commonly visible in the form of stars.
Quantum electrodynamics is the study of how matter and light interact with each other and is a merge of the theories of quantum mechanics and special relativity. This branch of physics sheds light on how matter and light can interact though electrically charged particles share protons during electromagnetic events. Theories in quantum electrodynamics have revolutionized theories developing and evolving throughout physics and other disciplines of sciences.
Quantum mechanics is also sometimes referred to as quantum theory which investigates how physics applies at a subatomic and microscopic level. This discipline of science explains how energy and matter behave through the use of mathematical formulas which describe particle and wave behavior. Only through understanding of the behavior of microscopic particles is it possible to gain insight into phenomena which occur on a macroscopic scale.
Quantum optics uses the principles of quantum mechanics to describe how light interacts with other forms of matter in the universe. Quantized photons are studied to observe the behavior of light particles in a vacuum which was first hypothesized by Max Planck in 1899. Einstein elaborated on these theories with his observation of photoelectric effects in his writings in 1905.
Quantum gravity has remained an elusive and complex mystery to many physicists who seek to unify theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity in a mathematical formula. Currently quantum gravity is described in the Standard Model and recent evidence through research at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN has helped to shed new light into the Higgs boson particle which reinforces theories previously conceived on the topic.
The theories of special relativity and general relativity first conceived by Albert Einstein encompass the greater theory of relativity in modern physics today. The relationship of velocity, time, space, matter and energy are all explored by physicists in the theory of relativity which is a cross of disciplines in physics and astronomy.
Statistical mechanics is the application of mathematical equations to create a model for molecular properties which can be applied to a larger population. Used for examining properties of thermodynamic behavior such as energy, heat, work and entropy the framework of statistical mechanics explains theories on how gases interact with properties of thermodynamics.
String theory was proposed by theoretical physicists and suggests that the particles known in standard particle physics could be one dimensional string like objects. The properties of observed elements are governed by their quantum states. Although proposed “theory of everything”, there exists a few variations of the fundamental principles of string theory which continues to evolve as new physical evidence is discovered to support areas outlined by theoretical physicists.
Thermodynamics is the study of how heat relates to work and energy. This branch of natural science incorporates principles of chemistry and physics (in addition to statistical mechanics) to explain phenomena such as radiation, temperature, entropy and energy dispersion in both microscopic and macroscopic terms. Four main laws exist in thermodynamics which essentially defines the internal energy of system and how this relates to energy and work in a closed as well as how this translates to temperature and entropy of external systems.