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Various examples of physical phenomena

Physics (from Ancient Greek: φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), romanizedphysikḗ (epistḗmē), lit. 'knowledge of nature', from φύσις phýsis 'nature') is the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and, through its inclusion of astronomy, perhaps the oldest. Over much of the past two millennia, physics, chemistry, biology, and certain branches of mathematics were a part of natural philosophy, but during the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century these natural sciences emerged as unique research endeavors in their own right. Physics intersects with many interdisciplinary areas of research, such as biophysics and quantum chemistry, and the boundaries of physics are not rigidly defined. New ideas in physics often explain the fundamental mechanisms studied by other sciences and suggest new avenues of research in academic disciplines such as mathematics and philosophy.

Advances in physics often enable advances in new technologies. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism, solid-state physics, and nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products that have dramatically transformed modern-day society, such as television, computers, domestic appliances, and nuclear weapons; advances in thermodynamics led to the development of industrialization; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.

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The Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is an online database of over eight million astronomy and physics papers from both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources. Abstracts are available free online for almost all articles, and full scanned articles are available in Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) and Portable Document Format (PDF) for older articles. It was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and is managed by the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

ADS is a powerful research tool and has had a significant impact on the efficiency of astronomical research since it was launched in 1992. Literature searches that previously would have taken days or weeks can now be carried out in seconds via the ADS search engine, which is custom-built for astronomical needs. Studies have found that the benefit to astronomy of the ADS is equivalent to several hundred million US dollars annually, and the system is estimated to have tripled the readership of astronomical journals. Read more...
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  • ... that nuclear fusion reactions are probably occurring at or above the sun's photosphere; it is a process called solar surface fusion.
  • ... that a touch flash releases about a billion photons a second far less than produced in a particle accelerator?

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Jupiter as seen by Voyager 1 probe with a blue filter

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Stanisław Marcin Ulam ([sta'ɲiswaf 'mart͡ɕin 'ulam]; 3 April 1909 – 13 May 1984) was a Polish-American scientist in the fields of mathematics and nuclear physics. He participated in the Manhattan Project, originated the Teller–Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons, discovered the concept of the cellular automaton, invented the Monte Carlo method of computation, and suggested nuclear pulse propulsion. In pure and applied mathematics, he proved some theorems and proposed several conjectures.

Born into a wealthy Polish Jewish family, Ulam studied mathematics at the Lwów Polytechnic Institute, where he earned his PhD in 1933 under the supervision of Kazimierz Kuratowski. In 1935, John von Neumann, whom Ulam had met in Warsaw, invited him to come to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, for a few months. From 1936 to 1939, he spent summers in Poland and academic years at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he worked to establish important results regarding ergodic theory. On 20 August 1939, he sailed for the United States for the last time with his 17-year-old brother Adam Ulam. He became an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1940, and a United States citizen in 1941. Read more...

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Fundamentals: Concepts in physics | Constants | Physical quantities | Units of measure | Mass | Length | Time | Space | Energy | Matter | Force | Gravity | Electricity | Magnetism | Waves

Basic physics: Mechanics | Electromagnetism | Statistical mechanics | Thermodynamics | Quantum mechanics | Theory of relativity | Optics | Acoustics

Specific fields: Acoustics | Astrophysics | Atomic physics | Molecular physics | Optical physics | Computational physics | Condensed matter physics | Nuclear physics | Particle physics | Plasma physics

Tools: Detectors | Interferometry | Measurement | Radiometry | Spectroscopy | Transducers

Background: Physicists | History of physics | Philosophy of physics | Physics education | Physics journals | Physics organizations

Other: Physics in fiction | Pseudophysics | Physics lists | Physics software | Physics stubs

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Physics topics

Classical physics traditionally includes the fields of mechanics, optics, electricity, magnetism, acoustics and thermodynamics. The term Modern physics is normally used for fields which rely heavily on quantum theory, including quantum mechanics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, particle physics and condensed matter physics. General and special relativity are usually considered to be part of modern physics as well.

Fundamental Concepts Classical Physics Modern Physics Cross Discipline Topics
Continuum Solid Mechanics Fluid Mechanics Geophysics
Motion Classical Mechanics Analytical mechanics Mathematical Physics
Kinetics Kinematics Kinematic chain Robotics
Matter Classical states Modern states Nanotechnology
Energy Chemical Physics Plasma Physics Materials Science
Cold Cryophysics Cryogenics Superconductivity
Heat Heat transfer Transport Phenomena Combustion
Entropy Thermodynamics Statistical mechanics Phase transitions
Particle Particulates Particle physics Particle accelerator
Antiparticle Antimatter Annihilation physics Gamma ray
Waves Oscillation Quantum oscillation Vibration
Gravity Gravitation Gravitational wave Celestial mechanics
Vacuum Pressure physics Vacuum state physics Quantum fluctuation
Random Statistics Stochastic process Brownian motion
Spacetime Special Relativity General Relativity Black holes
Quanta Quantum mechanics Quantum field theory Quantum computing
Radiation Radioactivity Radioactive decay Cosmic ray
Light Optics Quantum optics Photonics
Electrons Solid State Condensed Matter Symmetry breaking
Electricity Electrical circuit Electronics Integrated circuit
Electromagnetism Electrodynamics Quantum Electrodynamics Chemical Bonds
Strong interaction Nuclear Physics Quantum Chromodynamics Quark model
Weak interaction Atomic Physics Electroweak theory Radioactivity
Standard Model Fundamental interaction Grand Unified Theory Higgs boson
Information Information science Quantum information Holographic principle
Life Biophysics Quantum Biology Astrobiology
Conscience Neurophysics Quantum mind Quantum brain dynamics
Cosmos Astrophysics Cosmology Observable universe
Cosmogony Big Bang Mathematical universe Multiverse
Chaos Chaos theory Quantum chaos Perturbation theory
Complexity Dynamical system Complex system Emergence
Quantization Canonical quantization Loop quantum gravity Spin foam
Unification Quantum gravity String theory Theory of Everything

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