Study Material

Main Branches of Physics with Definitions, Topics and Examples

We explain the main branches of physics. The physics is used to explain all the reasons why the world works this way and not otherwise, is one of pure science that studies the properties of time, space, matter and energy, as well as the interaction between themselves and other forces. Being the matter the spatial reality and perceptible through the senses and the energy the capacity to carry out work. Below we reveal all the details about the branches of physics , their characteristics and the most outstanding examples.Physics as a science has a very wide scope of study , since we are talking about the study of everything that exists in our reality. So making classifications of the branches of physics accurately is very difficult.Chronologically speaking, physics is divided into three branches: classical physics , which comes from ages before ancient Greece; modern physics , whose study begins at the beginning of the 20th century; and contemporary physics , the study of which began in the late 20th century.main branches of physics

Importance of physics In daily life

The first step of all Science consists in the application of a meticulous Observation of a certain object of study, having for this a great variety of fields where to bring the proposal of a Scientific Technique that will later be applied with a Scientific Method , which with the help respecting the proposed working conditions and guaranteeing the repetition of the tests, will lead to the arrival of a Conclusion and the enunciation of what will be a Law or Principle that will be applicable to a particular case or a large number of cases.

In the case of Physics , the object of study is precisely in Matter , analyzing its different qualities and properties as well as all the factors that can generate a modification without it losing its Material Essence (that is, it remains the same object but with other conditions)

In addition to analyzing these properties, it also has as an object of study Energy and all the exchanges that different materials carry out with each other or send towards the environment, as well as the analysis of Time in conjunction with Space , the Path that describes a specific object as also other operations derived from the combination of different concepts.

The use of Physics in everyday life may go unnoticed, but the truth is that we use it very often, counting for example on the measurement of a Speed when we use a vehicle, when we take Body Weight using a scale (or when we buy Fruits and Vegetables or any food that is sold by the kilo) or everything related to Electric Power applied to Electronic Devices .

It is also applied not only in Industry but also in Architecture and Engineering , without which we could not have homes or place large structures without the risk of their collapse or flaws in their design and conformation.

What are the branches of physics?

The word ” physics ” has its origin in the Greek term physis , which is understood as nature or reality. This type of exact or pure science can be defined with each of the branches of physics , whose function is to investigate various aspects of reality or nature.

Characteristics of the branches of physics

One of the characteristics of the branches of physics is that they are represented by means of the language of mathematics.

In addition, the different types of physics apply other specialties or sciences such as biology, chemistry, engineering or geochemistry to shape their explanations.

Through the branches of physics , reality is studied by applying various scientific methods, verified by experts in the field with hypotheses and results.

Like chemistry or biology, physics is divided into several disciplines in order to cover the entire field of study it has.

Examples from the branches of physics

Before knowing the more concrete examples we must point out that physics is grouped into three different branches to define the concrete sectors of reality chronologically speaking: classical, modern and contemporary physics.

  • Classical physics : this is responsible for studying objects and shapes based on the speed of light and whose spatial scales are much greater than the size of atoms and molecules. This focuses on describing the theories developed before 1900. Within this branch of physics we can find another subdivision:
  1. Acoustics
  2. Electricity and magnetism:
  3. Mechanics
  4. Fluid mechanics
  5. Optics
  6. Thermodynamics
  • Modern physics : on the other hand, this branch of physics focuses on explaining events after the year 1900 and its object of study tries to explain those phenomena that occur at speeds close to the speed of light. In turn we can find various types of physics within modern physics:
  1. Cosmology
  2. Quantum mechanics
  3. Relativity
  • Contemporary physics : this is the most recent type of branch, it begins at the end of the 20th century, and in most cases it studies the most complex processes of nature, which are non-linear and are out of thermodynamic equilibrium. Within the field of contemporary physics are:
  1. Thermodynamics out of equilibrium
  2. Nonlinear dynamics
  3. Complex systems

And finally, we can talk about another classification of the branches of physics other than the chronological one that groups the different realities that explain how the world works:

  • Cosmology
  • Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Biophysics
  • Atomic physics
  • Nuclear physics
  • Photonic

main branches of physics
Branches of physics list with table

Physics branch Object of study Applications
Acoustics Sound Navigation systems and sound location, ecosonograms.
Astrophysics Large bodies in space. Knowledge of other celestial bodies.
Biophysics Physical laws of biological processes. Cellular energy, nerve impulse transmission, cellular transport.
Cryogenics Materials at very low temperatures Superconductivity, powerful magnets.
Kinematics Moving objects Calculate the trajectory and velocity of objects.
Dynamic Forces acting on objects. Aerodynamics
Static Forces on bodies at rest. Construction, engineering.
Electromagnetism Electricity and magnetism Electrical networks, wireless communication, electronic equipment.
Atomic physics The atom Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology,
Fluid physics Behavior of liquids and gases. Aeronautics, industrial processes, circulatory system.
Solid state physics Matter and the interactions between atoms. Photoresistance, new magnetic and laser materials, superconductors.
Plasma physics Physical properties of plasma Treatment for recycling paper.
Physics of condensed matter Properties of solids and liquids. Thermal conductivity, ferromagnetism.
Medical physics Radiation in human health. Radiotherapy and dosimetry.
Nuclear physics Nucleus of the atom. Nuclear reactors, medicine.
Particle physics Particles that make up the atom. Medical diagnosis and treatment, the World Wide Web, sterilization.
Classical mechanics Movement of bodies: includes kinematics, dynamics and statics. Launch of rockets and spaceships.
Quantum mechanics Behavior of subatomic particles. Properties and structure of matter.
Meteorology The atmosphere and its components. Prediction and monitoring of weather conditions.
Optics Light and other electromagnetic waves. Optical fibers, lasers.
Thermodynamics Energy, heat and their transfers. Cooling, motors

Branches of physics and their definition

1. Acoustics

Acoustics is the branch of classical physics that studies sound as an air disturbance, its way of propagating, the phenomena that produce it, how it is heard and how it is absorbed.

Tools : pressure diagram, microphones, ultrasound.

Applications : soundproofing, sound insulation, design of musical instruments and concert halls, navigation systems and sound location.

2. Astrophysics

The branch of physics that studies larger material bodies is astrophysics. Describe the motion of bodies and systems in space, such as stars, quasars, galaxies, and interstellar matter.

Tools : astronomical observatories, telescopes, radio telescopes, space probes.

Applications : geopositioning, knowledge of other planets.

3. Biophysics

Biophysicists combine biology and physics to study the physical laws of biological processes , the functioning of the cell membrane, the way nerve impulses operate, and muscle contraction.

Tools : molecular biology, X-ray diffraction, fluorescence microscopy based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer, electrophysiology.

Applications : thermodynamic stability of proteins, cellular energy, cellular transport.

4. Cryogenics

Low-temperature physics or cryogenics studies the behavior of matter at extremely low temperatures . Absolute zero (0ºK) indicates the lowest temperature that a body can reach, where the molecules are practically immobile.

Tools : gas compression and expansion, cryostat.

Applications : superconductivity and superfluidity, construction of super powerful magnets, power transmission lines with high efficiency.

5. Kinematics

Kinematics is the branch of mechanics that studies objects in motion . To describe the movement, kinematics studies the trajectory of points, lines and other geometric objects, speed, acceleration, displacement are calculated.

Tools : video cameras, observation, mathematics.

Applications : calculation of the speed and trajectory of objects, ballistics.

6. Dynamics

Dynamics is the branch of mechanics that studies the relationships between the movement of bodies and their causes . It studies the forces that cause objects and systems to move.

Applications : calculations of friction, deformation, resistance, aerodynamics, propulsion.

7. Static

Statics is the branch of mechanics that studies the balance of bodies. It deals with the analysis of the forces acting on a system at rest. In construction, static physics has an outstanding application

Tools : Newton’s laws, simple machines.

Applications : construction of buildings and bridges.

8. Electromagnetism

Electromagnetism is the study of phenomena of electricity and magnetism, the interaction between charged particles in electric and magnetic fields, and the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space.

Tools : magnets, electrical charges, voltmeters, ammeters.

Applications : electricity distribution network systems, global communication networks, electronic equipment.

9. Atomic physics

Atomic physics is responsible for the study of the atom : its structure, electronic configuration and the mechanisms of emission and absorption of energy.

Tools : radioactivity, spectroscopy, lasers.

Applications : quantum mechanics, nanotechnology.

10. Physics of fluids

Fluid physics studies the behavior of liquids, gases, or other fluids at rest and in motion. main branches of physics

Tools : Archimedes principle, surface tension, capillarity.

Applications : control of compressed air and fuel flow in aircraft, industrial hydraulic process control systems and high temperature processes. Functioning of the circulatory system.

11. Solid state physics

Solid state physics studies and explores matter and the interaction between atoms in dimensions on a macroscopic scale. Try to explain chemical properties based on the physical properties of each atom. main branches of physics

Tools : Electron microscope, X-ray diffraction crystallography.

Applications : laser materials, photoresistors, photocells, fluorescent or phosphorescent materials, new magnetic materials, superconductors, new magnetic materials.

12. Plasma physics

Plasma physics studies the state of matter of charged particles . Plasma is naturally found in stars and space. In laboratories, plasma is created by heating gases until electrons detach from their atom or molecule.

Applications : treatment of paper for recycling.

13. Physics of condensed matter

Condensed matter physics deals with the thermal, electromagnetic and optical properties of solid and liquid substances main branches of physics

Tools : crystallography, spectrometry.

Applications : thermal conductivity, semiconductors and insulators, superfluidity, ferromagnetism.

14. Particle physics main branches of physics

Particle physics comprises the study of the fundamental particles that make up matter. It is also known by the name of “High Energy Physics” due to the high amounts of energy required to create the right conditions for observation.

Tools : particle accelerators, cosmic rays.

Applications : magnetic resonance imaging, the World Wide Web, nuclear waste transmutation, maritime container scanning.

15. Medical physics main branches of physics

Medical physics is a branch of physics that applies the principles, methods, and techniques of physics in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases. main branches of physics

Tools : imaging, radiological equipment, magnetic resonance.

Applications : clinical service, radiotherapy, dosimetry.

16. Nuclear physics main branches of physics

Nuclear physics examines the nucleus of the atom , made up of protons, neutrons, and other particles. The nuclear physicist studies the arrangement of these particles in the nucleus, the forces that hold them together, the way in which nuclei release energy in the form of natural radioactivity or due to fusion or fission reactions. main branches of physics

Tools : beams of protons or electrons such as projectiles, nuclear reactors, Geiger counters.

Applications : radioactivity, medicine, power plants.

17. Classical mechanics main branches of physics

Classical mechanics comprises the entire study of the motion of bodies. Includes kinematics, dynamics, and statics.

Tools : Newton’s laws of motion.

Applications : rocket and spacecraft launch.

18. Quantum mechanics main branches of physics

Quantum mechanics studies the laws that govern the behavior of subatomic particles. In the field of extremely small dimensions, bodies follow completely different laws of behavior from those of the macroscopic world. main branches of physics

Applications : predicting the behavior of the particles and internal phenomena of the atom, allows to delve into the properties and structure of solid materials, such as semiconductors. main branches of physics

19. Meteorology main branches of physics

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere and its components . Meteorologists apply physics to examine the flows and movement of air and water on the Earth’s surface.

Tools : satellite images, radars, weather stations.

Applications : air flow investigation, weather forecasting, monitoring of weather conditions.

20. Optics main branches of physics

Optics studies light and has many applications in the field of optoelectronics and fiber optics.

Tools : lenses, mirrors, telescopes and binoculars.

Applications : study of the behavior of light and other electromagnetic waves, optical fibers. main branches of physics

21. Thermodynamics main branches of physics

Thermodynamics is the branch of physics that studies the different forms of energy , as well as the conditions under which one can be transformed into the other.

Tools : laws of thermodynamics, calorimeters.

Applications : cooling systems, internal combustion engines, space vehicle propulsion engines. main branches of physics

Theoretical and experimental physics

Physics is the study of the matter that constitutes the Universe and the laws that govern it. The work in physics can be approached in two main strategies:

  • theoretical physics : they use the laws of physics to refine theories and suggest experiments, as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking did. main branches of physics
  • Experimental physics : Experimental physicists design and conduct experiments, as do Argentine physicists Gabriela González and Mexican physicist Gerardo Herrera Corral.

5 laws of physics that intervene in your daily life

Physics, no matter how distant that word may sound, intervenes in our daily lives much more often than we imagine. For example, the operation of a refrigerator or a fan, the speed of the car or why an egg breaks when it falls to the ground.

Did you think that what you learned in school had no practical application? Here we show you 5 everyday examples in which physics is put into action. You are sure to be surprised!

1. The forces of the action-reaction principle

Newton’s third law says that when a body A exerts a force on another body B, A performs another equal force but in the opposite direction. This explains why when we push someone to fall into the pool, our body tends to do the same movement but in the opposite direction. Or when we jump up, our body uses the ground to propel us. main branches of physics

2. The balls never stop rolling, even in a straight line

The law of inertia states that if no force acts on a body, it will remain, indefinitely, moving in a straight line with constant speed. We could relate that to a ball that keeps rolling in a straight line until someone stops it. Now you understand what happens when in a basketball game, the ball goes and you run after it without stopping. main branches of physics

3. You may be a dreamer, but your feet will always be touching the ground

We could say that gravity represents the weight of a body and the physical force exerted by the mass of the bodies on the ground is due to gravity. This variable slows down objects that are thrown up and accelerates those that are moving down. It also affects movement because it slows or sets objects in motion. And this falls into our day to day, such as when you decide to cook scrambled eggs and they open early when they fall to the ground. main branches of physics

4. Your food stays cold in the refrigerator with heat

The passage of heat from a cold body to a hot one does not occur spontaneously; this is specified by the second principle of thermodynamics (branch of physics that studies the interaction between heat and other manifestations of energy), but the statement of Clausius added a change: “the passage of heat from a cold body to a warm one is not possible without the consumption of work.” For this reason, refrigerators use electrical energy to create heat and in turn transfer it to keep our products fresh through thermodynamic transformations. Did you imagine that your favorite ice cream received heat? Contradictory, right?

5. The relationship between what you spend on traffic tickets and acceleration

The accelerator is the lever that drives us to increase the speed of the car even though we know that we should not. We experience this theory often and it is easy to understand. If you drive at a speed of 50 km / h and after about 2.5 seconds the speedometer changes to 120 km / h, it can be said that the speed changed 70 km / h in the blink of an eye. This is the change in speed in the elapsed time, that is, the acceleration, but which you generally calculate in dollars when you get a fine.

Now you know that physics , like other exact sciences, is very close to our day to day, and we don’t even realize it! main branches of physics

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