What is Physics?

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Physics is the truly universal science. It is the rational development of experiments, observations and theories to explain the fundamental structure of all we perceive. From the smallest subatomic particle to the entire Universe, Physics uncovers a picture of the world that is continually changing.

For many students and scientists, Physics is an immensely satisfying intellectual pursuit. In some areas it is a difficult subject, in others easy, but always it is self consistent and able to explain many aspects of nature. The force of gravity that can be demonstrated in the lecture room is the same force that holds the planets in orbit around the sun and that creates black holes, among the most intriguing objects in the Universe.

Physics deals with fundamentals — the nature of space and time, matter and energy, simplicity and complexity. Physics underpins all sciences. Many major developments in chemistry, biology, geology and even medicine have been made by physicists. Physics is also the foundation of much modern technology.

The quantum theory, which underpins much of modern chemistry, was developed by physicists in the 1920's. X-Ray diffraction and radioactive tracers, used to explore the structure of DNA and to reveal biochemical processes, were developed by physicists. Many of the most exciting advances in the new science of "Chaos" have been made by physicists. The School of Physics constructed and operated one of the very first computers in Australia and subsequently the Basser Department of Computer Science emerged from the School. The School continues this maturing of new diciplines through its contacts with the University's Visualization Laboratory, the Australian Center for Microscopy and Microanalysis, as well as the National Optical and Radio Astronomy Observatories, and the fundamental particle physics program at CERN in Geneva.

Want to know more?

Do Physics First — a personal view by Karl Kruszelnicki

One Physicist's perspective on Physics, research and innovation in the Universities

An Opportunity for Physics where a 'lapsed' Physicist describes his view of the value of a Physics training.