Outline of physics

Outline of physics

Physics (Greek: physis – φύσις meaning "nature") is a natural science pertaining to the study of matter[1] and its motion through spacetime and all that derives from these, such as energy and force.[2] More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the world and universe behave.[3][4]

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, or perhaps the oldest through its inclusion of astronomy.[5] Over the last two millennia, physics had been considered synonymous with philosophy, chemistry, and certain branches of mathematics and biology, but during the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century, it emerged to become a unique modern science in its own right.[6] However, in some subject areas such as in mathematical physics and quantum chemistry, the boundaries of physics remain difficult to distinguish.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to physics:



Physics started with a philosophical commitment to simplicity. It should not be considered a difficult subject (although it is deep); one can learn classical physics on a playground, which describes the motion of balls, swings, slides and merry-go-rounds.

Note: the Theory column below contains links to articles with infoboxes at the top of their respective pages which list the major concepts.
Theory Major subtopics Concepts
Classical mechanics Newton's laws of motion, Lagrangian mechanics, Hamiltonian mechanics, Kinematics, Statics, Dynamics, Chaos theory, Acoustics, Fluid dynamics, Continuum mechanics Density, Dimension, Gravity, Space, Time, Motion, Length, Position, Velocity, Acceleration, Mass, Momentum, Force, Energy, Angular momentum, Torque, Conservation law, Harmonic oscillator, Wave, Work, Power
Electromagnetism Electrostatics, Electrodynamics, Electricity, Magnetism, Maxwell's equations, Optics Capacitance, Electric charge, Electric current, Electrical conductivity, Electric field, Electric permittivity, Electrical resistance, Electromagnetic field, Electromagnetic induction, Electromagnetic radiation, Gaussian surface, Magnetic field, Magnetic flux, Magnetic monopole, Magnetic permeability
Theory of relativity Special relativity, General relativity, Einstein field equations Covariance, Einstein manifold, Equivalence principle, Four-momentum, Four-vector, General principle of relativity, Geodesic motion, Gravity, Gravitoelectromagnetism, Inertial frame of reference, Invariance, Length contraction, Lorentzian manifold, Lorentz transformation, Metric, Minkowski diagram, Minkowski space, Principle of Relativity, Proper length, Proper time, Reference frame, Rest energy, Rest mass, Relativity of simultaneity, Spacetime, Special principle of relativity, Speed of light, Stress-energy tensor, Time dilation, Twin paradox, World line
Thermodynamics and Statistical mechanics Heat engine, Kinetic theory Boltzmann's constant, Conjugate variables, Enthalpy, Entropy, Equation of state, Equipartition theorem, First Law of Thermodynamics, Free energy, Heat, Ideal gas law, Internal energy, Irreversible process, Partition function, Pressure, Reversible process, Second Law of Thermodynamics, Spontaneous process, State function, Statistical ensemble, Temperature, Thermodynamic equilibrium, Thermodynamic potential, Thermodynamic processes, Thermodynamic state, Thermodynamic system, Third Law of Thermodynamics, Viscosity, Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
Quantum mechanics Path integral formulation, Scattering theory, Schrödinger equation, Quantum field theory, Quantum statistical mechanics Adiabatic approximation, Correspondence principle, Free particle, Hamiltonian, Hilbert space, Identical particles, Matrix Mechanics, Planck's constant, Operators, Quanta, Quantization, Quantum entanglement, Quantum harmonic oscillator, Quantum number, Quantum tunneling, Schrödinger's cat, Dirac equation, Spin, Wavefunction, Wave mechanics, Wave-particle duality, Zero-point energy, Pauli Exclusion Principle, Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle


Field Subfields Major theories Concepts
Astrophysics Cosmology, Gravitation physics, High-energy astrophysics, Planetary astrophysics, Plasma physics, Space physics, Stellar astrophysics Big Bang, Lambda-CDM model, Cosmic inflation, General relativity, Law of universal gravitation Black hole, Cosmic background radiation, Cosmic string, Cosmos, Dark energy, Dark matter, Galaxy, Gravity, Gravitational radiation, Gravitational singularity, Planet, Solar system, Star, Supernova, Universe
Atomic, molecular, and optical physics Atomic physics, Molecular physics, Atomic and Molecular astrophysics, Chemical physics, Optics, Photonics Quantum optics, Quantum chemistry, Quantum information science Atom, Molecule, Diffraction, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Polarization, Spectral line, Casimir effect
Particle physics Accelerator physics, Nuclear physics, Nuclear astrophysics, Particle astrophysics, Particle physics phenomenology Standard Model, Quantum field theory, Quantum chromodynamics, Electroweak theory, Effective field theory, Lattice field theory, Lattice gauge theory, Gauge theory, Supersymmetry, Grand unification theory, Superstring theory, M-theory Fundamental force (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak, strong), Elementary particle, Spin, Antimatter, Spontaneous symmetry breaking, Brane, String, Quantum gravity, Theory of everything, Vacuum energy
Condensed matter physics Solid state physics, High pressure physics, Low-temperature physics, Nanoscale and mesoscopic physics, Polymer physics BCS theory, Bloch wave, Fermi gas, Fermi liquid, Many-body theory Phases (gas, liquid, solid, Bose-Einstein condensate, superconductor, superfluid), Electrical conduction, Magnetism, Self-organization, Spin, Spontaneous symmetry breaking


General concepts

  • General concepts
Gravity — LightPhysical system — Physical observation — Physical quantityPhysical state — Physical unit — Physical theory — Physical experiment —
  • Theoretical concepts
Mass-energy equivalence — Particle — Physical field — Physical interaction — Physical law — Fundamental force — Physical constantWave
  • Basic quantities
SpaceLengthTimeMassElectric chargeEnergyMatterPotential [disambiguation needed ] — Force — MomentumVelocityAccelerationEntropyTemperature
  • Subfields
AcousticsAerodynamicsClassical mechanicsCondensed matter physicsCosmologyDynamicsElectromagnetism — Hydrodynamics — KinematicsMathematical physicsMechanicsOptics — plasma physics — Quantum mechanicsRelativityStaticsThermodynamics

Famous physicists


See also


  1. ^ R. P. Feynman, R. B. Leighton, M. Sands (1963), The Feynman Lectures on Physics, ISBN 0-201-02116-1 Hard-cover. p.1-1 Feynman begins with the atomic hypothesis, as his most compact statement of all scientific knowledge: "If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations ..., what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is ... that all things are made up of atoms – little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. ..." vol. I p. I–2
  2. ^ James Clerk Maxwell (1878), Matter and Motion. New York: D. Van Nostrand. p.1: "Nature of Physical Science – Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature." | accessdate=2008-11-04
  3. ^ H.D. Young & R.A. Freedman, University Physics with Modern Physics: 11th Edition: International Edition (2004), Addison Wesley. Chapter 1, section 1.1, page 2 has this to say: "Physics is an experimental science. Physicists observe the phenomena of nature and try to find patterns and principles that relate these phenomena. These patterns are called physical theories or, when they are very well established and of broad use, physical laws or principles."
    Steve Holzner, Physics for Dummies (2006), Wiley. Chapter 1, page 7 says: "Physics is the study of your world and the world and universe around you." See Amazon Online Reader: Physics For Dummies (For Dummies(Math & Science)), retrieved 24 Nov 2006
  4. ^ Note: The term 'universe' is defined as everything that physically exists: the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter, energy and momentum, and the physical laws and constants that govern them. However, the term 'universe' may also be used in slightly different contextual senses, denoting concepts such as the cosmos or the philosophical world.
  5. ^ Evidence exists that the earliest civilizations dating back to beyond 3000BC, such as the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, and the Indus Valley Civilization, all had a predictive knowledge and a very basic understanding of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars.
  6. ^ Francis Bacon's 1620 Novum Organum was critical in the development of scientific method.
  7. ^ Eminent scientists, Published by scholastic India pvt. Ltd.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Topic outline of physics — For a more comprehensive list, see the List of physics topics. This list of basic physics topics covers much of physics, the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the fundamental laws which govern matter, energy, space, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of geophysics — Seismic velocities and boundaries in the interior of the Earth sampled by seismic waves. The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to geophysics: Geophysics – the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of chemistry — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to chemistry: Chemistry – science of atomic matter (matter that is composed of chemical elements), especially its chemical reactions, but also including its properties,… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of science — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to science: Science – in the broadest sense refers to any system of objective knowledge. In a more restricted sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of astronomy — Mauna Kea in Hawaii is one of the world s premier observatory sites. Pictured is the W. M. Keck Observatory, an optical interferometer. The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy: Astronomy – studies the… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of energy — See also: Index of energy articles In physics, energy (from the Greek ἐνέργεια – energeia, activity, operation , from ἐνεργός – energos, active, working [1]) is a scalar physical quantity that describes the amount of work that can be performed by …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of manufacturing — See also: Outline of production The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to manufacturing: Manufacturing – use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. Includes a range of human activity, from… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of history — History articles Alphabetical index: 0 9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Outline  |  Portal  |  Timelines  |  Category The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of biophysics — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to biophysics: Biophysics – interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems.[1] Contents 1 Nature of biophysics 1.1 Biophysics… …   Wikipedia

  • Outline of education — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to education: Education – in the general sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual. In its… …   Wikipedia