What is Physics: the basic NCERT concept

In this article, we will be discussing about the first topic of the Class XI Physics syllabus, namely "What is Physics?" The students who want to start their study in Physics may find this article useful. This is also the very first article of my series on Physics concepts named NEPYK (an arbitrary name for NCERT Physics Deeply Explained).

In this context I have tried to make the notes for the readers in the best way possible. By making short headings, my main aim is to easify the learning process. All the given headings contain a vast area of study but we will focus on NCERT text in this article, Let's begin with it.

A)Physical World

Before directly coming on to the topic 'What is Physics', we need to know that What 'Physical World' is. Basically, the world which we can sense and realise is the Physical World. Sanskrit word 'Bhautik Jagat' gives a better idea of the term.

B)Origin of Science

We humans have been very curious to know about the reasons of occurring natural phenomena before us. We try to find the meaningful patterns and continuity in the occurring events which leads us to the origin of Science. For instance the Day -Night cycle which led us to the concepts of Astronomy.

C)'Science' as a Word

Word 'Science' is originated from the Greek word 'Scientia' which means 'to know'. The Sanskrit word 'Vijnan' (not Vigyan') and the Arabic word 'ilm' suggest the same meaning.

D)Antiquity of Science

It's not so recently that we have started researches in Science. Science has been continuing since the birth of human species. It is said that there was a great development of Science in Mahabharat Yug but the war destroyed everything. A library of Peshawar was set fire during English period by Englishmen. This was the destruction of Indian old scientific knowledge. Of course Egypt, China and some other countries also had developed in the field of Science.

E)Origin and Development of Modern Science

The Science we usually study in our textbook had started developing in sixteenth century and onwards and still going on. Science has become International enterprise in mid 20th century. The major progress took place in Europe.
Now, we can come to the definition of Science as we have covered some background.

F)Definition of Science

"Science is a systematic attempt to understand the natural phenomena in as much detail and depth as possible and to use the gained knowledge in predictions and control these phenomena".

G)Scientific Methods

To study Science, we need a proper method to follow, we call the method 'Scientific Method' which includes several interconnected concepts- systematic observations, proper experiments, mathematical modelling and all these type of requirements to study Science. Speculations and conjunctures have some place in Science but to verify the theories we will always need scientific methods.

H)Game between Theory and Observations

Theory and Observations has led to the rapid growth of Science. As soon as more experiments are done, new figures are observed, which takes us to the origin of new theories. Time to time more and more modifications are also done. For instance after new theories and careful observations of Johannes Kepler (collected by Tycho Brahe) led to the modifications in the principal of Nicolas Copernicus(circular orbits to elliptical orbits). Sometimes current theories are not able to explain the new observations. For example: Newtonian Mechanics which gained very much popularity at that time,and wave property of light wasn't able to explain the most basic principles of atomic phenomena and photoelectric effects of light respectively. It gave birth to the new theory named 'Quantum Mechanics'.

It is not necessary in Science that practicals and Observations will give birth to the new theories but a theoretical advance may also suggest what to look for in the experiments. For instance Ernest Rutherford Experiment(1911) gave a new theoretical advance and this advance was used in Niels Bohr atomic model for Hydrogen. And this fact is also noticeable that in 1930 Paul Dirac imagined just theoretically the existence of antiparticle and later it was experimentally proved by Carl Anderson in 1932 by the discovery of Positron (antielectron).

I)Branches of Science

Science is a broad subject which has multiple branches. For example :- Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Political Science, Geography, Mathematics, Agricultural Science, Computer Science, Psychology and many more. We will be talking here about mainly Physics.

J)What is Physics

Physics is a basic discipline in the category of Natural Sciences which also includes Chemistry and Biology. Physics is derived from the Greek word 'Fusis' which means nature. Its equivalent word in Sanskrit is 'Bhautiki' which refers to the study of Physical World.

->Definition - Precise definition of Physics is neither possible nor necessary. Broadly we can describe it as a study of the basic laws of nature and their manifestation in natural phenomena.

K) Basic Thrusts of Physics

Here we will discuss two basic thrusts used in Physics -
(I) Unification- Unification is an attempt to relate many phenomena through one basic concept. For example: Falling ball and motion of planets around the Sun can be described by concept of 'Gravitation'. And Maxwell laws for Electromagnetism describes both Electrical and Magnetic phenomena.

(II)Reductionism- Reductionism is the process to break complex subjects into its smaller parts and then describe the properties of the subjects through the interactions and properties of the smaller parts. For example :- Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory and Statistical Mechanics all are studied through the same quantities- temperature, internal energy and entropy etc.

Hope readers found this article useful. I will cover Scope and Excitement of Physics in my next article.

If you have any doubt related to the topic we studied today "What is Physics" , please post it below.


Author: Lovish Raheja25 Jul 2017 Member Level: Silver   Points : 0

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