What are the major areas of physics?

In summary, the conversation revolves around the major foundations or genres of physics and recommendations for further learning. The major areas of physics are listed as atomic, biophysics, chemical, classical mechanics, condensed matter, cosmology, electrodynamics, mathematical, nonlinear dynamics, nuclear, optics, particle, phenomenology, plasma, quantum, relativistic, space, and statistical mechanics. These areas may vary between different universities. The conversation also mentions the distinction between physics and engineering, and the possibility of additional areas such as archeological physics, geophysics, and atmospheric science.
  • #1
LogicalAtheist
Hey all, as I just posted in my introductory post, I have completed by physics two semester non-calculus series. I have a rule for myself that I don't buy books on a given science subject until I've completed the introductory courses of that given type of science. Since I have, I have a question for you.

What are the major foundations, or genres of physics. I want to continue to learn about physics, but would like to know what are considered the major fundamental areas. Thank you!
 
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  • #2
Lucky for you, the first ~3 years of undergrad study in physics is pretty much identical for everyone! Courses in waves, statistical mechanics, special relativity (Taylor&Wheeler is a canonical text), classical mechanics (Goldstein), E&M (Jackson), and quantum mechanics are all important for pretty much any field.

The modern major fields of research are high-energy (aka HEP or particle physics), condensed matter, plasma (eg fusion research), cosmology/astrophysics, nuclear, atomic/molecular, mathematical (foundations), quantum information/optics. [Did I miss any big ones?] But you really need courses in the older, mostly 'finished' subfields above before you can start working on any of these. :)
 
  • #3
Well. I'm a neuroscience major so my physics requirements are done.

Thus I'm going to choose areas of physics that interest me. Particular quantum and astronomical physics.

I picked up the latest SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, there's an article in there about parallel universes and explains how they've been proven to exist, so simply i might add it's freakin amazing. And some neat concepts based on this truth.

Thanks for your info!
 
  • #4
In my opinion, the major areas of physics are:

Atomic
Biophysics
Chemical
Classical Mechanics (includes Acoustics)
Condensed Matter
Cosmology
Electrodynamics
Mathematical
Nonlinear Dynamics
Nuclear
Optics
Particle
Phenomenology
Plasma
Quantum
Relativistic
Space
Statistical Mechanics

Of coures some people will tell you that applied fields such as biophysics and optics don't belong on this list. They might consider applied physics to be branches of engineering. They might be right. Physics is a science, and science is a study of nature; whereas, engineering is the study of technology.

Also, there are some people who will tell you that Nonlinear Dynamics isn't a real branch of physics on its own.

Anyway, I have chosen these major areas based on the areas that various physics departments in America have distinguished. I believe that the University of Nebraska includes the area of Archeological Physics in their department. I believe there are some schools that consider Geophysics and Atmospheric Science to be branches of physics as well. So, put these on your list if you so desire.

eNtRopY
 
  • #5
Thank you much. I will consider both your inputs when looking for more physics books on amazon.com and will consult with you guys on good books for the area of physics I choose.
 
  • #6
And don't forget Experimental and Theoretical <fill in blank>.
 

Related to What are the major areas of physics?

What are the major areas of Physics?

The major areas of Physics are Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism, Optics, and Quantum Mechanics. These areas cover the study of motion, heat and energy, electricity and magnetism, light and its properties, and the behavior of matter and particles at a subatomic level.

What is the difference between Classical and Modern Physics?

Classical Physics is based on the laws of motion and gravity developed by Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century. It deals with macroscopic objects and their interactions. On the other hand, Modern Physics, which emerged in the 20th century, deals with the study of phenomena at a subatomic level and incorporates theories such as Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.

What is the role of Mathematics in Physics?

Mathematics is an essential tool in Physics, as it provides a precise language to describe and analyze physical phenomena. The laws and theories of Physics are expressed using mathematical equations and models, which allow for accurate predictions and explanations of natural phenomena.

What are some real-world applications of Physics?

Physics has numerous real-world applications, including the development of technology such as electricity, computers, and telecommunications. It also plays a crucial role in fields such as engineering, medicine, and environmental science, helping us understand and improve the world around us.

What are some famous experiments in Physics?

Some famous experiments in Physics include the double-slit experiment, which demonstrated the wave-particle duality of light, the Cavendish experiment, which measured the gravitational constant, and the Millikan oil drop experiment, which determined the charge of an electron. These experiments have been instrumental in shaping our understanding of the physical world.

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