How Does Physics Connect Diverse Scientific Fields?

In summary: Excellent article, thanks Zz. I just started working w/ a condensed matter theorist and one of his major research areas is BECs. These last few weeks I have learned just how rich this field is. Unfortunately, when I was a freshman (I'm a junior now) I subscribed to the Gell-Mann school that HEP was "real" physics and everything else was substandard. How wrong I was! I'm glad I've come to my senses, due in a large part to the informative posts of ZapperZ and others here at PF.Thanks for that, Zz!Excellent article, thanks Zz. I just started working w/ a condensed matter theorist and one of his major research areas is BEC
  • #1
ZapperZ
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I will make this very clear: http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-12/p51.html"

In fact, I strongly recommend you print this out, and give it to people who are not aware of physics, what it does, how it works, and how it permeates through their lives.

This article emphasized so many of the points that I have been trying to get across to many people (and even to crackpots).

1. It illustrates the interconnectedness of various branches of physics. You just simply cannot study quantum mechanics alone without understanding classical mechanics and E&M. In many physical phenomena, it crosses many boundaries of the field of study, such as the one mentioned in the article:

Consider the case of Bose–Einstein condensates (figure 2), existing at the intersection of atomic, condensed matter, and statistical physics, belonging to all those fields and to none of them alone. In addition, BECs could not have been produced, let alone studied, without the tools of optical physics, without manipulating electric and magnetic fields, without understanding gas and fluid dynamics, or without innovations in low-temperature physics. The experts will no doubt tell me what else I failed to mention. The point is that BEC research depends critically on the synergistic entanglement of all these sometimes separate fields of study. Take the contributions of one away and the program to make BECs collapses. It's more than interdisciplinary physics coming together to solve a problem. It's a deep entanglement of fields that gives rise to something qualitatively different, the emergence of an entirely new field.

2. Many people who are physicists, work in areas and are given titles in which the physics and their physics background are obscure. This leads to people not being aware that physics is at work, and physicists are the ones doing the work.

On one side of me at dinner sat a fellow whose job is to optimize the use of equipment and machinery for the manufacture of polymer-based diapers; he works to achieve high throughput without tearing, melting, or otherwise damaging the product, while minimizing waste. His employer is a large corporation well known to American householders; his background is physics. Sitting on my other side was the director of research and development for a company in upstate New York that makes electromagnetic sensors of all kinds. One of his favorites measures the dielectric properties of asphalt to determine when it is optimally compressed to make the best possible road surface. His background, too, is physics.

Curiously, the two physicists see themselves as engineers. The software company sees everyone as engineers. Its product incorporates sophisticated algorithms to solve a dizzying variety of physics-related partial differential equations and even has "physics" in its name. Yet the physics and the physicists with whom the software company deals are so thoroughly entangled, both with the set of problems to be solved and with the companies and other entities working on solutions, that they have become invisible. The pervasiveness of physics, indeed its very existence, is not always apparent even to those who work with it every day.

There are many gems in this article. If you do not get Physics Today, then READ THIS ARTICLE!

Zz.
 
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  • #2
Excellent article, thanks Zz. I just started working w/ a condensed matter theorist and one of his major research areas is BECs. These last few weeks I have learned just how rich this field is. Unfortunately, when I was a freshman (I'm a junior now) I subscribed to the Gell-Mann school that HEP was "real" physics and everything else was substandard. How wrong I was! I'm glad I've come to my senses, due in a large part to the informative posts of ZapperZ and others here at PF.
 
  • #3
Thanks for that, Zz!
 
  • #4
unit_circle said:
Excellent article, thanks Zz. I just started working w/ a condensed matter theorist and one of his major research areas is BECs. These last few weeks I have learned just how rich this field is. Unfortunately, when I was a freshman (I'm a junior now) I subscribed to the Gell-Mann school that HEP was "real" physics and everything else was substandard. How wrong I was! I'm glad I've come to my senses, due in a large part to the informative posts of ZapperZ and others here at PF.

I saved a soul! You just made my day!

:biggrin:

Zz.
 

Related to How Does Physics Connect Diverse Scientific Fields?

1. What is the concept of "entanglement" in physics?

Entanglement in physics is the phenomenon where two or more particles become connected in such a way that the state of one particle is dependent on the state of the other, even when separated by large distances. This concept is a fundamental principle in quantum mechanics and has been confirmed through various experiments.

2. How does entanglement affect our understanding of the universe?

Entanglement has challenged our traditional understanding of the universe by showing that particles can be intrinsically connected and influenced by each other, regardless of distance. This has led to new theories and technologies, such as quantum computing, that have the potential to greatly impact our world.

3. Can entanglement be used for practical applications?

Yes, entanglement has potential practical applications in areas such as quantum cryptography, where it can be used to create secure communication channels. It is also being studied for use in quantum computing, which has the potential to greatly increase computing power.

4. Is it possible for entanglement to occur between more than two particles?

Yes, entanglement can occur between multiple particles, known as multipartite entanglement. This has been observed in various experiments and is an important area of study in quantum information and computation.

5. How is entanglement related to the concept of superposition?

Entanglement is closely related to the concept of superposition, where a particle can exist in multiple states at once. In entanglement, the states of multiple particles are linked, and the measurement of one particle's state affects the probabilities of the other particles' states. This connection is a key aspect of quantum mechanics and has been confirmed through experiments.

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