Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Since I am personally more interested in science than in many other subjects, I'm going to shift to the other end of the subjects from history.

I consider physics to be the study of the laws or regularities of nature in general. As part of my studies in the past, I've devoted some hours to finding a uniform approach to it, and I have several categories:

1) Mechanics. This includes laws of motion, force, and energy. Subtopics include gravitation, relativistic mechanics, and quantum mechanics. The first two are most applicable to other people than scientists.

2) Electromagnetism. This includes electricity, magnetism, and optics, including light. These are less visible, but are regularly employed in our society.

3) Thermodynamics. This includes the study of temperature, heat and related quantities.

4) Structure of matter. This includes the study of subatomic particles, atomic and nuclear physics, molecular physics, and the forms of matter: solids, liquids, and gases, that we usually deal with.

These are fundamenal and more basic than the other sciences, although there is some overlap with chemistry. One of my own projects involves identifying particular prominent physicists, and societies of physicists.
I've recently taken a look at the classification schedules in the Library of Congress to reorganize the subjects of books according to my own preferences, and there is a great deal of popular literature that attempts to discuss very advanced concepts of physics without the use of mathematics. I find this situation very unsatisfactory: I like the mathematics, and there are some areas I would very much like to know about but still lack enough mathematical background. Physics depends heavily on measurement, as well as other areas of applied science. I have something of a distaste for philosophy of physics, although there may be a few useful ideas. One of my pet peeves is the way that physics has become such a specialized occupation and that it requires so much advanced training to even understand the ideas that are being discussed. Physics is generally considered difficult and serious, and there isn't very much that is recreational or fun, although a few creative educators have found some. I don't have any of the apparatus and equipment needed to do research in physics, although some of it is accessible.
I am interested in physics education and improving it, more than in commercial research, and I would prefer that the government not be the primary source of funding. Physics and religion deal with different subjects. To oversimplify, physics concentrates on what can be seen and observed by anyone, while religion deals with what is unseen, at least by most.
Physics is primarily a product of western civilization, but it is hard to get more specific without dealing more with its history. Although it has roots in ancient history, its recognized ancestry comes largely from Greek philosophers in the early classical period, and most of its development since the 16th century.

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