map of all things related to physics

[Image above] Credit: Dominic Walliman; Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

The study of physics likely comes easy for many scientists. For the rest of us, it takes something like a Dominic Walliman video to make it easy to understand basic scientific concepts.

In one of his recent videos, Walliman breaks physics down into three parts:

1. Classical physics

He describes Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion, with a nod to calculus—what he terms the “language of physics.”

Other fields falling under the classical physics category include:

  • Optics, including reflection, refraction, and diffraction.
  • Electromagnetism, which is about electric and magnetic fields.
  • Classical mechanics—the “properties and motion of solid objects.”
  • Fluid mechanics—the flows of liquids and gases.
  • Thermodynamics—how energy passes from one form to another, including the concept of entropy.

Energy, states Walliman, is a fundamental property to physics, and it belongs in all areas of physics.

2. Relativity

Walliman also describes Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity in the video.

3. Quantum physics

This last category includes atomic theory, condensed matter physics (atoms in close proximity), nuclear physics (radiation, fission, and fusion), and particle physics.

The giant chasm of ignorance

Walliman explains that physicists are still studying how to join together quantum physics and the general theory of relativity. In the future, he suggests, scientists will close the chasm and come up with an all-encompassing theory, called quantum gravity. Researchers have already experimented with string theory and loop quantum gravity—but there is more work to do.

Other science mysteries include dark energy and dark matter—and Walliman says there is still much left to discover. He ends the video by musing on a few philosophical questions:

  • What is the fundamental nature of reality?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Why does the universe exist?
  • How do we know that physics research gets to the fundamental truths of the universe?
  • And the big “why”—Why is all of physics like the way it is?

We don’t have all the answers, but perhaps someday we will. As Walliman says, “After all, physicists are not quitters.”

Credit: Domain of Science; YouTube