The Science of Physics

What is Physics ?

Physics is the Science that studies all physical phenomena. This definition complies also with the currently obsolete term “Physical Philosophy” that was in use until the 18th century. The goal of Physics is the study of the components of matter and their interactions. This study is made via observations of the corresponding phenomena and their repetition under proper conditions, i.e., by performing experiments.

Observation is the careful and critical examination of a phenomenon that allows to identify and analyze its control parameters. There is a vast diversity of conditions under which the different physical phenomena can take place. There exist phenomena which occur under very special conditions and therefore their observation and analysis is a very difficult procedure. Thereby experiment is necessary.

Experiment is the quantitative observation of a phenomenon under controlled conditions. The scientist modifies these conditions in the laboratory and evaluates their impact on the phenomenon under study. The experiment is not the sole tool of the physicist.  Based on the current knowledge and abstraction a physicist can formulate mathematical models of physical phenomena. A physical model can lead to the prediction of new phenomena or to the discovery of relationships between various known processes. The knowledge is acquired by theoretical research. This is in turn used by other scientists in new experiments which confirm or refute, fully or partially, a proposed model. The theoretical physicist is able to reconsider his/her model in order to achieve full agreement with the experiment or even to reject it. Modern Physics is advancing via the collaboration and the interaction between theory and experiment.  Moreover, it is stressed that progress in Physics is mainly achieved via team work. The problems in question are so complex that large teams of both theoretical and experimental physicists are required for their solution. Collaborations between physicists do not necessarily require the physical presence of collaborators at the same place in all times. There are nowadays numerous research programmes involving physicists from many different countries.

Physics holds a special position among sciences not only for historical reasons but mainly because it supplies the conceptual and theoretical foundations of other sciences.   Moreover, from the practical point of view there is no science which is not using techniques of Physics. Let us note here that the thinking and methodology of a physicist continues to be the organization model of every rational function of modern Man.