Classification of Physics
In the course of time, physics as a science underwent great changes. From a subdivision of philosophy it gradually turned into an applied science and then, in the 20th century, into an extremely complicated, greatly specialized and somewhat closed science. For the majority of this time physics has been rather ambiguously limited, describing the movements of celestial bodies and other material objects that stand behind the construction of many mechanisms and so on. To be a physicist was to know something about all these fields. But in the 20th century and, especially, after the works of Albert Einstein, everything changed. Physics split into a number of very narrow and very specialized fields, sometimes with little connection between each other. The majority of scientists work in one and the same field their entire lives.
The most important modern spheres of physics are as follows:
- Atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics deals with interactions between light and matter at a scale of single atoms or constructions consisting of only several atoms. They approach their subject matter both from the point of view of quantum and classical attitude and generally tend to study things on microscopic level.
- Condensed matter physics, on the contrary, deals with matter and its properties on macroscopic level. Nowadays it is the largest and most well-developed field of physics, and no wonder – in fact, for the most of its existence physics was constituted primarily by these studies. The modern condensed matter physics has evolved from solid-state physics, which in turn became one of its subfields.
- Particle or high energy physics studies the properties of elementary components of energy and matter. Very often it studies phenomena that do not exist naturally, but can only be created artificially by means of causing different elementary particles to collide. This field of physics was recently made a part of popular culture due to the scandal concerning the Big Hadron Collider and the end of the world it was supposed to cause.
The rest is interdisciplinary sciences, such as astrophysics, geophysics and biophysics. They study physical properties of subject matters belonging to other natural sciences. There are a number of less orthodox connections, but they are less well-formed.