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Field Sophistication

  1. Dec 15, 2011 #1
    I don't intend to step on anyone's toes with this... so I'll tread lightly and say that no offense is intended.

    I've been thinking that there are various levels of sophistication within the different fields and subfields of physics. There would be many reasons for this... for instance, perhaps quantum mechanics has been around longer than say, biophysics... or a particular field simply has a tendency to attract more people within a smaller timeframe, or the people that are attracted to a field tend to be far more obsessive on average about understanding their subject. Whatever the reason, the net effect would be that a particular field could be years, decades, (unlikely, but... centuries?) ahead of the other branches of physics.

    Which fields within physics would be the most sophisticated?

    When I say sophisticated, I'm using an operational definition of sophistication where there are two criterion that need to be filled for something to be considered sophisticated:

    A: The field must use ***highly*** abstract constructs.
    B: These constructs must produce ***highly*** accurate predictions of some form.

    I'll offer my suggestion, which is merely based upon my perception (which is inherently shaky, so please don't be offended):

    (1) Electrodynamics (Most of our modern technology is predicated on this, but much of the sophistication in this comes from engineers, not physicists... [and yes; I realize that the transistor came from a group of physicists])
    (2) Quantum Mechanics (Most of the impetus came from the Manhattan Project; it also ties into chemistry, pharmacy, the study of materials.)
    [a] Quantum Field Theory is exceptionally advanced mathematically, and produces
    extremely accurate predictions for subparticle scale interactions.
    (3) Astrophysics (People have been studying the night sky ever since they've had eyes with which to see, and brains with which to ponder)
    [a] The techniques of General Relativity are also extremely advanced mathematically.

    Please don't interpret this selection to mean that Electrodynamicists or Quantum Mechanics are superior to any other form of physicist...

    I'm curious to hear other people's thoughts on this...
  2. jcsd
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