branches of physics



We explain to you which are the branches of physics, their characteristics and the disciplines that arise from their interaction with other sciences.

Physics is divided into numerous branches.

What are the branches of physics?

The physical is a scientific discipline belonging to the so-called natural Sciences or "pure" sciences, whose antecedents date back to classical antiquity. Next to the chemistry and the biology, has profoundly revolutionized the way Humans we understand and deal with the world around us.

While chemistry studies the composition of the matter and biology to living creatures, physics is dedicated to the study and scientific description of the fundamental forces that govern the universe. According to the study of each of these forces, and the points at which the study approaches the field of other Sciences and disciplines, physics is divided into numerous branches or fields, each endowed with its own name and objectives.

However, since physics is one of the oldest sciences, and since other disciplines that exist today have not always existed, it is common to distinguish between the three great moments or the three great perspectives that the study of physics encompasses. . Thus, we must first differentiate between:

  • Classical physics. Whose antecedents come from the Antiquity Classical, especially from Ancient Greece, focuses on the study of the phenomena of the universe that present a speed lower than the one with the light, and whose spatial scales are higher than those of the atom and the molecules. Its principles are based on classical mechanics or Newtonian mechanics, since Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was one of its great thinkers.
  • Modern physics. Whose beginnings date from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, it has revolutionized different concepts of classical physics thanks to the studies of Max Planck (1858-1947) and the theories of Albert Einstein (1879-1955): Theory of relativity special and the Theory of general relativity.
  • Contemporary physics. The most innovative aspect of all, whose beginnings are located at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, is dedicated to non-linear systems, processes outside thermodynamic equilibrium and, in general, the most avant-garde and complex trends with respect to the description of the functioning of the unobservable universe.

Branches of physics

Throughout its three moments, physics has accumulated fields of study, each of which inaugurates or comprises one of the so-called branches of physics:

  • Mechanics classical. Focused on the notion of movement at speeds below that of light and the macroscopic behavior of bodies, is characterized by considering the weather as an invariant notion and the universe as a determined entity. It consists, in general, of vector mechanics, the fruit of the studies of Isaac Newton and his laws of motion, and analytical mechanics, of an abstract and mathematical nature, whose initiator is considered Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716).
  • Thermodynamics. Dedicated to the study of the energy balance of macroscopic systems, as well as their processes of heat transfer and of Energy, the forms of energy and how it can be used to carry out a job.
  • Electromagnetism. It is the branch of physics that studies both the electricity As the magnetism, and it does so in a unified way, that is, through the same and unique theory. This means that he is interested in the phenomena of the electric fields Y magnetic, as well as their correspondences and interactions, among which is contemplated the light. Its beginnings date from the studies of Michel Faraday (1791-1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879).
  • Acoustics. This is the name given to the physics of sound, dedicated to the study of the nature and propagation of waves sound, their behavior in different media and their manipulation possibilities. Its applications are vital to the world of musical instruments, but they go much further in our daily lives.
  • Optics. It is the physics of light, dedicated to understanding the complex nature of electromagnetic spectrum visible (and invisible) and its forms of interaction with matter: different media, reflective materials and prisms. This discipline, arisen in ancient times but revolutionized during the Modern age, allowed the creation of devices never before suspected by the humanity, Like the microscopes, cameras and corrective (medical) optics.
  • Fluid mechanics. It is focused on the study of the movement of fluids and their interactions with the environment. This means that it mainly studies the liquids and the gases, but also other complex forms of matter that are capable of flowing, that is, of becoming continuous media.
  • Quantum mechanics. It is dedicated to the study of nature at very small spatial scales such as atoms and subatomic particles. It analyzes their dynamics and interactions and is the result of advances in physics at the beginning of the 20th century, which moved away from the postulates of classical mechanics to inaugurate a new field of study: that of the subatomic world and its possible manipulations.
  • Chaos theory. Focused on the study of complex and dynamic physical systems, it uses Newton's differential equations and the contributions of physicists such as Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749-1827), Henri de Poincaré (1854-1912) and Edward Lonrenz (1917-2008) , among others.

In addition, there are branches of physics that are born thanks to its interaction with other sciences and disciplines:

  • Geophysics. Fruit of the contact between physics and geology, is dedicated to the study of the inner layers of our planet: his structure, its dynamics and its evolutionary history, taking into account what is known about the fundamental laws of matter: gravity, electromagnetism, radiation, etc.
  • Astrophysics. It is the physics of stars, that is, physics applied to the study of visible or detectable objects in the outer space, What stars, nebulae or black holes. This discipline is born from the hand of astronomy and together with it it contributes immense amounts of information about how outer space works and what conclusions can be drawn from your observation.
  • Physical chemistry. It is the meeting point between the science of forces (physics) and the science of matter (chemistry). It consists of the study of matter using physical concepts.
  • Biophysics. Dedicated to the study of living beings from a physical perspective, especially at the level of molecular dynamics, that is, the exchange and interaction of subatomic particles and energy, between and within living beings.
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