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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics

 

Physics

The word physics is drawn from the Greek word of physika. Physika means "natural sciences", in which case physics may be understood as a science of natural phenomena. However, in today’s time, such a definition would be considered only as introductory. Natural science has now been broken up into many subdivisions, where physics is only one of them. In essence, people, animals, and plants are considered as part of natural science, although the science which studies it is called biology. Should we therefore say that physics is a science of non-living things in nature? Even this would not be correct in that the elements of nature, such as hydrogen, carbon and so on, are definitely not living things in nature but are defined rather under chemistry.

For this reason it makes sense to consider physics as a science studying the construction of matter and the forces which act on such substances. Physicists look at the world as a formation of matter and forces and try to clarify phenomena in daily life created from such matter and forces. If physicists were to ask the question why do high tides and low tides exist, then they would search for an answer which studies only matter and forces - in this case only the heavenly bodies of the earth and moon and the force of gravity.

Physics is a very varied subject. Physicists contemplate over such issues as the character of empty space. They also search for forces which may be present in such a space and whether any matter may be located in that space. If so, what forces act on it? What would happen if one object were to crash into another. What is heat? What is light? What are waves and how do all these factors interact with one another?

Overall, physics studies the general laws of how matter behaves. With the help of these laws, the behaviour of matter can not only be clarified but also predicted. Physicists have set it on themselves to put together a universal theory describing light. To achieve this, it is necessary to unify four basic forces - gravity, electromagnetic force, and attractive and repulsive forces (the last two of which occur on the level of atoms).

Physics is presently considered as an experimental science. Physicists therefore try to verify their concepts and improve them through experimentation, which is not how it always was. In the beginning, when physics was still a general science about nature, there were only limited ways how to conduct experiments. The first physicists tried to understand the character of nature and the world around them by contemplation alone, for which reason these scientists from ancient times are now viewed rather as natural science philosophers.

Physics started developing as a separate science at the beginning of human history several thousand years ago. The ancient Egyptians, when building their pyramids, were the first to take advantage of the practical knowledge of physics. Although they did not have any theories of nature available to them, they knew how to work with natural elements to attain certain goals. Whoever knows how nature works is able to reform it for its purposes.

But errors can also be made in physics. Although physical theory has developed to abstract and exact levels, some new phenomena may always be discovered which will inevitably lead to changes in some theories.

For this reason, the history of physics is interlaced with a history of errors. However, even though there is always room for improvement in physics, as with any other science, it remains one of the most effective instruments developed by man.

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