The Influence Of Physics On Society

Simple mechanical devices such as pulleys and levers, as well as complex modern machines like quantum computers and nuclear reactors, would be impossible to create without the use of physics.

Physics lies at the root of many inventions that have had an enormous impact on the everyday life of the average person. There are numerous ordinary objects that people use regularly that rely on the science of physics to function, including semiconductors, lasers, X-rays, GPS devices, radio transmitters and bar code scanners.

Transportation vehicles such as automobiles, airplanes and space shuttles could not be constructed without the help of physics experts. Physics is also useful for military purposes, informing the design of weapons. Many of the scientists responsible for inventing the atomic bomb were physicists, and today physicists are involved in the creation of nuclear weapons.

Physics is integral for space travel, so some astronauts have a credential in this field. This academic discipline is also necessary for explaining and investigating the origins and mechanics of the universe, so it should come as no surprise that legendary space scientists Stephen Hawking, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson all studied physics.

Famous physics degree recipients include legendary innovators such as two-time Nobel Prize laureate Marie Curie – who discovered radioactive elements along with her Nobel-winning husband Pierre Curie and contributed enormously to scientific understanding of radioactivity – and Nobel Prize recipient Albert Einstein, creator of the theory of relativity. Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate who transformed the way the world understands light, was also a physics scholar.

There are also influential living individuals who have physics degrees, such as serial entrepreneur Elon Musk – founder of the SpaceX aerospace company and co-founder of the Tesla electric automobile firm – and Lene Hau, an applied physicist who pioneered how to slow down and even stop the movement of light.

The field of physics has increased human understanding of sound, light and heat, and it has enhanced knowledge about electricity, gravity, magnetism and mechanical forces. Physicists can focus on topics ranging from tiny objects like atoms and subatomic particles to enormous things like planets and galaxies. It is a complicated academic discipline that addresses scientific inquiries ranging from the quest to discover the most minuscule particles within atoms to investigations into the behavior of black holes.

The field also encompasses debates about the nature of dark matter and controversies about the nature of time. Broadly, the three areas of physics are theory, computation, and experiment, Effrosyni Seitaridou, an associate professor of physics at Emory University's Oxford College in Georgia, explained in an email. Each subfield of physics contains these three areas.

Seitaridou notes that some interdisciplinary subfields of physics integrate natural science with social science, such as psychophysics. Psychophysics focuses on the influence of physical events on a person's perceptions and thought processes.

According to a PowerPoint presentation about physics careers published by Crystal Bailey, career programs manager at the nonprofit American Physical Society, physics degree-holders wind up in a wide range of jobs, many outside of academia. Physics grads often work in the private sector and sometimes at government laboratories.