Physics is one of the oldest disciplines of Science that deals with the laws associated with nature. But some students perceive physics as a complex subject. Physics is a rather exciting subject requiring a lot of imagination and mathematical skills.
Physics is not a rather tricky subject to learn if taught in the right way. Physics Education can be fun, engaging, and creative, especially in practical physics. Let us look at how Physics came to be developed to understand the challenges faced by a Physics student.
How did Physics come up to be as it is now?
The history of physics begins in 200 B.C Archimedes of Syracuse’s famous Archimedes principle, and 16th century Galileo introduced the concept of Inertia. One of the important physicists in the row is Sir Issac Newton, who propounded the three fundamental laws of motion of a macroscopic object; up to Newton, the physics laws were basic; even an everyday person who knows fundamental mathematical operation can able understand the physics.
After Newton’s introduction of calculus to describe the moving object, the elementary stage of mathematics is not enough to understand; it also requires some techniques using Differentiation and Integration.
By using the method of calculus, many physicists like Michel Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell introduced many theories to explain the relation between electricity and magnetism; up to the 19th century calculus played a vital role in physics of its wide range of applications.
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What changes happened to Physics in the 20th Century?
The next critical stage in the chronology of physics is the 20th century Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and General Theory of Relativity. The general theory of relativity explains the space-time curvature bending due to gravitation is explained using Tensors(Higher dimension vectors). Another branch of physics took birth to describe microscopic particles(subatomic particles).
That is called Quantum mechanics due to the failure of classical mechanics to explain the photoelectric effect and the problem of Black body radiation; after the introduction of quantum mechanics, the scope of higher-end mathematical tools like Linear vector space, matrices, Dirac notation was introduced, this is also a period in which many prominent Mathematicians became physicist some of them are Paul Dirac, Jules Henri Poincare, David Hilbert, etc.
In the 20th century, if a physics student wants to contribute to physics through his research, then he should be capable of handling all the mathematical tools like Tensors, Groups, Linear algebra, complex algebra, multivariable calculus, Differential equation, partial Differential equation, vector space, Numerical Analysis, etc. effectively to explain the natural phenomenon, if a physics student doesn’t know how to handle the mathematical tool then he cont produce quality research in this field.
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Now the question is, why do some students struggle with this subject?
20th-century physics requires mathematics and fundamental physics is enough to develop new theories. The 21st century added one more branch of computer science, along with Mathematics and Basic physics.
The introduction of computer science enables to solve many humanly impossible problems, among them were the Recent discovery of Gravitational waves by colliding of black holes by LIGO(Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory), the discovery of the Higgs boson in the Large Hadron Collider, Taking the first picture of the Black hole of the Galaxy M87 by using Event Horizon telescope(collection of Radio telescopes) in all these cases per day terabyte data is obtained from those instruments, and a specific algorithm should be developed, and programming that algorithm and get the result.
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These processes require some programming techniques for a physics student. Among many programming languages, some of the programming languages commonly used are Python, FORTRAN, C++, etc.; along with this, The physics student is also capable of using some software like Gaussian, COMSOL MULTIPHYSICS, GROMACS, etc.
This software helps in simulation and as well in higher mathematical calculations. The physics student who wishes to work in some interdisciplinary fields like Biophysics, Geophysics, Chemical physics, Econophysics, and Health physics should also be capable of understanding other branches of Science.
Thus from 200 BC to the 21st century, the evolution of the physics subject tremendously changed. To be the best in Physics and learn it effectively and fast, the student should be taught basics correctly and develop strong mathematical skills and logical thinking.
Present physics should be capable of generalizing and solving the problem by introducing all the mathematical tools and advanced programming concepts. The student interested In interdisciplinary should also know the other branch of Science to correlate physics with other branches of Science. Of all the branches of Physics, Quantum Mechanics is considered to be the hardest.
Hence it can be concluded that the notion that Physics is a complicated subject only to be studied by high-IQ people is a rather misconception. It is in the teachers’ hands to arouse interest in Physics among the students and make them apply their logic and skills in learning Physics through student-centered teaching.
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