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21 branches of physics: object of study and applications

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

Branch of physics Object of study applications
acoustic the sound Navigation and localization systems by sound, echosonograms.
astrophysics Large bodies in space. Knowledge of other celestial bodies.
biophysics Physical laws of biological processes. Cellular energetics, nerve impulse transmission, cellular transport.
cryogenics Materials at very low temperatures Superconductivity, powerful magnets.
Kinematics Objects in motion Calculate the trajectory and speed of objects.
dynamics 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,
Physics of fluids Behavior of liquids and gases. Aeronautics, industrial processes, circulatory system.
Solid state physics Matter and interactions between atoms. Photoresistance, new magnetic materials and for lasers, superconductors.
Plasma physics Physical properties of plasma Treatment for paper recycling.
Physics of condensed matter Properties of solids and liquids. Thermal conductivity, ferromagnetism.
Medical physics Radiation to human health. Radiotherapy and dosimetry.
Nuclear physics nucleus of the atom Nuclear reactors, medicine.
Particle physics Particles that make up the atom. Treatment and medical diagnosis, the world wide web, sterilization
Classic mechanics Body movement: 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 the components. Prediction and monitoring of weather conditions.
optics Light and other electromagnetic waves. Optical fibers, laser.
thermodynamics Energy, heat and transfers. Refrigeration, engines

1. Acoustics

Acoustics is the branch of classical physics that study the sound as a disturbance of the air, the way it spreads, 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 and localization systems by sound.

2. Astrophysics

The branch of physics that studies material bodies of larger dimensions is astrophysics. It describes 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: positioning, knowledge of other planets.

3. Biophysics

Biophysicists combine biology and physics to study the physical laws of biological processesthe 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.

You may also be interested in seeing Branches of biology.

4. Cryogenics

The physics of low temperatures or cryogenics studies the behavior of the matter at extremely low temperatures. Absolute zero (0ºK) indicates the lowest temperature that a body can reach, where the molecules are practically immobile.

Tools: understanding and expansion of gases, cryostat.

applications: superconductivity and superfluidity, construction of super powerful magnets, lines for energy transmission with high performance.

5. Kinematics

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

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. This studies the forces that make objects and systems move.

Tools: Newton’s laws, force diagrams.

applications: calculations of friction, deformation, resistance, aerodynamics, propulsion.

7. Statics

Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur static branches of physics
In constructions, static physics has a prominent 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 electricity and magnetism phenomena, interaction between charged particles to electric and magnetic fields and the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space.

Tools: magnets, electric charges, voltmeters, ammeters.

applications: electricity distribution network systems, global communication networks, electronic equipment.

9. Atomic physics

Atomic physics deals with the study of the atom: structure, electronic configuration and energy emission and absorption mechanisms.

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, control systems of industrial hydraulic processes and processes at high temperatures. Functioning of the circulatory system.

11. Physics of the solid state

Solid state physics studies and explores matter and the interaction between atoms at macroscopic scale dimensions. Try to explain the chemical properties according to 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. Physics of plasma

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

tool: high power laser, microwave.

applications: paper treatment 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 includes the study of the fundamental particles that constitute matter. It is also known as “High Energy Physics” because of the high amounts of energy required to create the right conditions to observe it.

Tools: particle accelerators, cosmic rays.

applications: magnetic resonance imaging, the World Wide Web, nuclear waste transmutation, maritime container scanner.

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 nuclei release energy in the form of natural radioactivity or due to fusion or fission reactions.

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

applications: radioactivity, medicine, energy plants.

17. Classical mechanics

Classical mechanics includes all the study of the movement of bodies. Includes kinematics, dynamics and statics.

Tools: Newton’s laws of motion.

applications: launching rockets and spaceships.

18. Quantum mechanics

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

tool: blackbody radiation.

applications: predicting the behavior of particles and internal phenomena of the atom, allows to gain insight into the properties and structure of solid materials, such as semiconductors.

19. Meteorology

satellite image cyclone Catarina meteorology branches of physics
Satellite image of Hurricane Catarina in 2004.

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

Tools: satellite images, radars, weather stations.

applications: air flow research, weather forecasting, monitoring of weather conditions.

20. Optics

Optics studies the light and has many applications in the field of optoelectronics and optical fibers.

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 energyas 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 makes up the Universe and the laws that govern it. The work in physics can be approached in two main strategies:

  • the physics theory: they use the laws of physics to refine theories and suggest experiments, as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking worked.
  • the physics experimental: Experimental physicists design and conduct experiments, such as Argentine physicist Gabriela González and Mexican physicist Gerardo Herrera Corral.

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