Branches of Physics | Definition & Functions

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Major Branches of Physics: Definition, Tools & Functions

Branches of Physics

The branches of physics are the different areas or fields of study of physicsPhysics is the science that is responsible for explaining everything that happens in the Universe, that is why it covers a great diversity of areas such as movement, forces, radiation, energy, among others.

Physics branch Object of study Applications
Acoustics Sound Navigation systems and sound location, ecosonograms.
Astrophysics Large bodies in space. Knowledge of other celestial bodies.
Biophysics Physical laws of biological processes. Cellular energy, nerve impulse transmission, cellular transport.
Cryogenics Materials at very low temperatures Superconductivity, powerful magnets.
Kinematics Moving objects Calculate the trajectory and velocity of objects.
Dynamic Forces acting on objects. Aerodynamics
Static Forces on bodies at rest. Construction, engineering.
Electromagnetism Electricity and magnetism Electrical networks, wireless communication, electronic equipment.
Atomic physics The atom Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology,
Fluid physics Behavior of liquids and gases. Aeronautics, industrial processes, circulatory system.
Solid state physics Matter and the interactions between atoms. Photoresistance, new magnetic and laser materials, superconductors.
Plasma physics Plasma physical properties Treatment for paper recycling.
Physics of condensed matter Properties of solids and liquids. Thermal conductivity, ferromagnetism.
Medical physics Radiation in human health. Radiotherapy and dosimetry.
Nuclear physics Nucleus of the atom. Nuclear reactors, medicine.
Particle physics Particles that make up the atom. Medical diagnosis and treatment, the World Wide Web, sterilization.
Classical mechanics Movement of bodies: includes kinematics, dynamics and statics. Launch of rockets and spaceships.
Quantum mechanics Behavior of subatomic particles. Properties and structure of matter.
Meteorology The atmosphere and its components. Prediction and monitoring of weather conditions.
Optics Light and other electromagnetic waves. Optical fibers, laser.
Thermodynamics Energy, heat and their transfers. Cooling, motors

List of Various Branches of Physics & Definition

1. Acoustics

Acoustics is the branch of classical physics that studies sound as an air disturbance, its way of propagating, the phenomena that produce it, how it is heard and how it is absorbed.

Tools : Pressure diagram, microphones, ultrasound.

Applications : Soundproofing, sound insulation, design of musical instruments and concert halls, navigation systems and sound location.

2. Astrophysics

The branch of physics that studies larger material bodies is called astrophysics.
Astrophysics is the motion of bodies and systems in space, such as stars, quasars, galaxies, and interstellar matter.

Tools : Astronomical observatories, telescopes, radio telescopes, space probes.

Applications : Geopositioning, knowledge of other planets.

3. Biophysics

Biophysicists combine biology and physics to study the physical laws of biological processes, the functioning of the cell membrane, the way nerve impulses operate, and muscle contraction.

Tools : Molecular biology, X-ray diffraction, fluorescence microscopy based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer, electrophysiology.

Applications : Thermodynamic stability of proteins, cellular energy, cellular transport.

4. Cryogenics

Cryogenics (Also called – Low temperature) studies the behavior of matter at extremely low temperatures. Absolute zero (0ºK) indicates the lowest temperature that a body can reach, where the molecules are practically immobile.

Tools : Gas compression and expansion, cryostat.

Applications : Superconductivity and superfluidity, construction of super powerful magnets, power transmission lines with high efficiency.

5. Kinematics

Kinematics is the branch of mechanics that studies objects in motion. To describe the movement, kinematics studies the trajectory of points, lines and other geometric objects, speed, acceleration and displacement are calculated.

Tools : Video cameras, observation, mathematics.

Applications : Calculation of the speed and trajectory of objects, ballistics.

6. Dynamics

Dynamics is the branch of mechanics that studies the relationships between the movement of bodies and their causes. It studies the forces that cause objects and systems to move.

Tools : Newton’s laws, force diagrams.

Applications : Calculations of friction, deformation, resistance, aerodynamics, propulsion.

7. Static

In buildings, static physics has an outstanding application (Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

Statics is the branch of mechanics that studies the balance of bodies. It deals with the analysis of the forces acting on a system at rest.

Tools : Newton’s laws, simple machines.

Applications : Construction of buildings and bridges.

8. Electromagnetism

Electromagnetism is the study of phenomena of electricity and magnetism, the interaction between charged particles in electric and magnetic fields, and the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space.

Tools : Magnets, electrical charges, voltmeters, ammeters.

Applications : Electricity distribution network systems, global communication networks, electronic equipment.

9. Atomic Physics

Atomic physics is responsible for the study of the atom : its structure, electronic configuration and the mechanisms of emission and absorption of energy.

Tools : Radioactivity, spectroscopy, lasers.

Applications : Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology.

10. Physics of Fluids

Fluid physics studies the behavior of liquids, gases, or other fluids at rest and in motion.

Tools : Archimedes principle, surface tension, capillarity.

Applications : Control of compressed air and fuel flow in aircraft, industrial hydraulic process control systems and high temperature processes. Functioning of the circulatory system.

11. Solid State Physics

Solid state physics studies and explores matter and the interaction between atoms in dimensions on a macroscopic scale. Try to explain the chemical properties based on the physical properties of each atom.

Tools : Electron microscope, X-ray diffraction crystallography.

Applications : Laser materials, photoresistors, photocells, fluorescent or phosphorescent materials, new magnetic materials, superconductors, new magnetic materials.

12. Plasma Physics

Plasma physics studies the state of matter of charged particlesPlasma is naturally found in stars and space. In laboratories, plasma is created by heating gases until electrons detach from their atom or molecule.

Tool : High power laser, microwave.

Applications : Treatment of paper for recycling.

13. Physics of Condensed Matter

Condensed matter physics deals with the thermal, electromagnetic and optical properties of solid and liquid substances

Tools : Crystallography, spectrometry.

Applications : Thermal conductivity, semiconductors and insulators, superfluidity, ferromagnetism.

14. Particle Physics

Particle physics comprises the study of the fundamental particles that make up matter. It is also known by the name of “High Energy Physics” due to the high amounts of energy required to create the right conditions for observation.

Tools : Particle accelerators, cosmic rays.

Applications : Magnetic resonance imaging, the World Wide Web, nuclear waste transmutation, maritime container scanning.

15. Medical Physics

Medical physics is a branch of physics that applies the principles, methods, and techniques of physics in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases.

Tools : Imaging, radiological equipment, magnetic resonance.

Applications : Clinical service, radiotherapy, dosimetry.

16. Nuclear Physics

Nuclear physics examines the nucleus of the atom, made up of protons, neutrons, and other particles. The nuclear physicist studies the arrangement of these particles in the nucleus, the forces that hold them together, the way in which nuclei release energy in the form of natural radioactivity or due to fusion or fission reactions.

Tools : Beams of protons or electrons such as projectiles, nuclear reactors, Geiger counters.

Applications : Radioactivity, medicine, power plants.

17. Classical Mechanics

Classical mechanics comprises the entire study of the motion of bodies. Includes kinematics, dynamics, and statics.

Tools : Newton’s laws of motion.

Applications : Rocket and spacecraft launching.

18. Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics studies the laws that govern the behavior of subatomic particles. In the field of extremely small dimensions, bodies follow completely different laws of behavior than in the macroscopic world.

Tool : Blackbody radiation.

Applications : Predicting the behavior of the particles and internal phenomena of the atom, allows to deepen the properties and structure of solid materials, such as semiconductors.

19. Meteorology

Satellite image of Hurricane Catarina in 2004.

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere and its componentsMeteorologists apply physics to examine the flows and movement of air and water on the Earth’s surface.

Tools : Satellite images, radars, weather stations.

Applications : Air flow investigation, weather forecasting, monitoring of weather conditions.

20. Optics

Optics studies light and has many applications in the field of optoelectronics and fiber optics.

Tools : Lenses, mirrors, telescopes and binoculars.

Applications : Study of the behavior of light and other electromagnetic waves, optical fibers.

21. Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is the branch of physics that studies the different forms of energy, as well as the conditions under which one can be transformed into the other.

Tools : Laws of thermodynamics, calorimeters.

Applications : Cooling systems, internal combustion engines, space vehicle propulsion engines.

Theoretical and Experimental Physics

Physics is the study of the matter that constitutes the Universe and the laws that govern it. The work in physics can be approached in two main strategies:

  • Theoretical Physics: They use the laws of physics to refine theories and suggest experiments, as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking did.
  • Experimental Physics: Experimental physicists design and conduct experiments, as do Argentine physicists Gabriela González and Mexican physicist Gerardo Herrera Corral.

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