Top Ten Damn Good Reasons to Study Physics

What is physics? It's the underpinning of the universe; how it came to be, how it continues to function, and its fate. Physics is the mechanism of nature, the study of the sciences to give rise to the other sciences, the application of the universal language of mathematics, and it is ever-changing, with new discoveries and new theories being made in the path of mankind's thirst for knowledge. So hey, who doesn't want to be a part of that?

I study Physics, and I hope this list inspires you to pursue it as well.
The Top Ten
1 Physics is ever-changing

As new discoveries are made in the development of science, the seemingly fundamental concepts of the sciences are constantly being broken down. Models have been scrapped, adapted, replaced, and it happens all the time. There have been major changes to what was previously a global consensus; the imaginative and persistent minds of the physics community being responsible.

For instance, in the 16th Century, Huygens went head-to-head with Newton over the mechanics of light. Newton firmly believed that light was made of particles, Huygens said it was a wave, but few would challenge Newton's influence, having developed the fundamental laws of classical mechanics. But the model turned around completely when Thomas Young diffracted light through a double slit, observing distinct interference patterns that, with the knowledge at the time, could only be explained with waves. Yet, this model was contradicted again in 1901, when Max Planck, working to make the light bulb more energy efficient, pictured light as a stream of energy being transferred in quantised "packets", or quanta, which depended on its frequency. This was later shown in action with demonstration of the photoelectric effect by Albert Einstein. We now observe properties of light in both forms, and there are some properties of EM Radiation which can be explained with one model, but not the other. But if we return to Young's interference with corpuscular light, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle comes into play, as does the Many Worlds Theory, in which the nature of each photon, or light particle, is dependent solely on the mathematics of a wave function. The photon exists in two parallel universes simply from this!

In spite of the theories being proved and disproved, over the course of time, they are reconsidered. It's exciting how our understanding of how the universe works is never complete, as we are always making a difference to how we look at it. Thinking outside the box has enabled us to... more

2 Applications of physics

Without our understanding of Physics, we would have died out as we evolved. Physics is more than just making 3D cinema screens and radiotherapy, it's constantly changing our technologies. Recently, scientists have been working with single nitrogen vacancy impurities in the giant covalent structure of carbon-12 in diamond to make a quantum information system, which improves on the method with cold atoms, as it can be done more efficiently, provided that there is a suitable network of entanglements, connected by oppositely polarised photons. That's an example of how modern innovation is constantly changing. Thinking of the best solution to a proposal can take research from many different fields of science, and it's wonderful how it pieces together.

3 Physics goes further in-depth as you continue studying it

In primary school, you are told that everything is made of particles. This is, in essence, true, but they tell you nothing about the fundamental properties of them, and neither does it distinguish one kind of particle from another. You later get told that everything's made of atoms, and that these are fundamental particles, which cannot be divided. Wrong. Atoms consist of fundamental electrons, which orbit in discrete energy levels around nuclei. The nuclei, in turn, are made from protons and neutrons, and these particles are made of fundamental quarks. And before you call this chemistry, or stamp-collecting, you may ask your teacher why the protons stick together, despite being positively charged and repelling each other? And why does it only hold for certain nuclei? Your teacher will tell you that this is due to the strong interaction, which, unlike electromagnetism, has a finite range, so is only stronger in apparent magnitude at small separations. But why does the strong interaction have a finite range? The gluon, which is the exchange particle for this, has no mass, so why can it only go so far? The gluon does, in fact, have eight different forms of colour charge, which is associated with the types of quarks with which it is mediated. Separating a gluon from a quark thus requires a form of potential energy, such that moving too far produces the energy to create a quark-antiquark pair. That's why pions mediate the interaction at greater distance.

When you scratch the surface of a subject, like you do in school, you miss out on a lot more fascinating information. Where physics is concerned, I can guarantee that you'll stumble upon something unthinkable given the information which you were taught. Something may have been boring before, because it came intuitively, but that completely turns around when you actively study it.

4 Unanswered questions

There's a long list of unanswered physics questions today, as there were hundreds of years ago. When the Ancient Greeks observed the stars, they wondered, what made the stars move the way they do? As they couldn't make the right observations, they assumed they were at the centre of everything. They couldn't explain why the orbits of certain objects, which turned out to be the planets, looped in their paths across the sky. Copernicus later solved this with the idea that the Earth orbited the Sun, but that left us wondering where the Sun was relative to the centre of the universe? And well, it was not until Hubble when we could confirm that the universe has no centre, as space expands in all directions at the same rate. But that leaves the universe in a high entropy state that doesn't comply with the entropy of the Big Bang, by which means the Big Bang may not have been the very beginning of the universe.

Every question answered asks at least one new one. Is that not radical?

5 Research in physics

There's so much out there for you to discover, if you research it. With research, you give yourself a fantastic opportunity to find out something you wish to know more about. Where physics is concerned, research can easily lead to coining something new altogether. I'm currently doing research on dark energy, and how the prospect of there being a fifth fundamental interaction of physics, known as quintessence, being responsible for the evolution of the universe, and it's fascinating because I don't know what I could uncover next. You get to find out more and more about the development of the cosmological constant, and about the hypothetical properties of quintessence, and it often ties in with other fields of science to support your arguments. As physics spans so much, however, I can find that my curious mind wanders and I look into something completely different about chronal spacetime fountains, but I stay on track as well as I can. Research inspires you to make your career in physics, because even the experts won't know for certain what to expect from it. They can come up with something completely revolutionary, which will puzzle everyone for the next fifty years, perhaps longer. Research is just the first step to changing the world.

6 Physics enhances critical thinking

Naturally, a physicist needs good problem solving skills to do his or her work. The ability to think outside the box is crucial to making a strong influence amongst your peers, and to explaining new observations and making new theories. So even if you don't do physics, your IQ goes up as you study it. In fact, there are a number of economists, lawyers and politicians out there who have physics degrees, as they have been trained in critical thinking skills.

7 Application of mathematics

Mathematics is a universal language, and it is the language of physics. Is it not beautiful how we have been able to quantise the properties of nature? We have mathematical formulae, for instance, that relate energy to mass, discharge current to capacitance, probability amplitudes to spacial and temporal wave parameters, and making new mathematical relations between these is simply an application of a mathematical trick. Whether or not the mathematical model is feasible depends on your academic background, which is why there's so much trauma over string theory, but one day, a leading researcher in the field will make a breakthrough, even if a lot of it won't happen in my lifetime.

8 Physics opens many career choices

Physics is one of the most employable subjects there is. You don't necessarily have to be a research scientist (I do, because it's awesome), because you instantly become attractive to a good range of jobs on the market. With that being said, why would you get a mediocre job at an electronics factory when you can conduct your own research into something new?

9 Physics can link to other subjects

This is more than just helping a doctor fix the M.R.I. scanner, it's about developing new technologies and ideas for them! Recent research has gone into developing quantum resonating systems in impurities in diamond, which can hypothetically be used as a simultaneous tracer and nanoscale M.R.I. scanner, with a resolution much greater than a modern M.R.I. machine. Theories have also recently coined quantum biology, in which the energy taken by a plant by photosynthesis is treated using the Uncertainty Principle, to determine how that energy may be used in the plant. Just goes to show its superiority to Biology.

10 Physics changes your social life

Breaking away from the "awkward nerd" stereotype, working as a physicist enables you to work well in a group. This will later bring you onto peer reviews, enhancing your confidence when your research is assessed by other or higher academics.

Physicists are also hot.

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