Since antiquity, people have tried to understand the behavior of the natural world. One great mystery was the predictable behavior of celestial objects such as the Sun and the Moon. Several theories were proposed, the majority of which were disproved.
The philosopher Thales (ca. 624–546 BC) first refused to accept various supernatural, religious or mythological explanations for natural phenomena, proclaiming that every event had a natural cause. Early physical theories were largely couched in philosophical terms, and never verified by systematic experimental testing as is popular today. Many of the commonly accepted works of Ptolemy and Aristotle are not always found to match everyday observations. Even so, many ancient philosophers and astronomers gave correct descriptions in atomism and astronomy.
The Middle Ages saw the emergence of an experimental physics taking shape among medieval Muslim physicists, the most famous being Alhazen, followed by modern physics largely taking shape among early modern European physicists, the most famous being Isaac Newton, who built on the works of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler. In the 20th century, the work of Albert Einstein marked a new direction in physics that continues to the present day.
It includes study of the most basic objects from which all other things are composed, and therefore physics is sometimes called the “fundamental science”. Physics aims to describe the various phenomenon that occur in nature in terms of simpler phenomena. Thus, physics aims to both connect the things observable to humans to root causes, and then to try to connect these causes together.
For example, the ancient Chinese observed that certain rocks.(lodestone) were attracted to one another by some invisible force. This effect was later called magnetism, and was first rigorously studied in the 17th century. A little earlier than the Chinese, the ancient Greeks knew of other objects such as amber, that when rubbed with fur would cause a similar invisible attraction between the two. This was also first studied rigorously in the 17th century, and came to be called electricity. Thus, physics had come to understand two observations of nature in terms of some root cause (electricity and magnetism). However, further work in the 19th century revealed that these two forces were just two different aspects of one force – electromagnetism. This process of “unifying” forces continues today, and electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force are now considered to be two aspects of the electroweak interaction. Physics hopes to find an ultimate reason (Theory of Everything) for why nature is as it is (see section Current research below for more information).
Physics as a Career
Physics offers challenging, exciting, and productive careers. As a career, physics covers many specialized fields — from acoustics, astronomy, and astrophysics to medical physics, geophysics, and vacuum science.
Physics offers a variety of work activities-lab supervisor, researcher, technician, teacher, manager. Physics opens doors to employment opportunities throughout the world in government, industry, schools, and private organizations.
- Emphasis on basic conceptual understanding of content.
- Promoting process-skills, problem-solving abilities and applications of Physics concepts/content, useful in real-life situations for making Physics learning more relevant, meaningful and interesting.
- Emphasis on use of SI Units, Symbols, nomenclature of physical quantities and formulations as per international standards.
- Emphasis on Physics-related technological/industrial aspects to cope up with changing demand of society committed to the use of Physics, technology and informatics.
- Providing logical sequencing of the ‘Units’ of the subject matter and proper placement of concepts with their linkages for better learning and matching the concepts/content with comprehension level of the learners.
- Reducing the curriculum load by eliminating overlapping of concepts/content within the discipline of Physics or with other disciplines; reducing the descriptive portion and providing suitable formulation/depth of treatment appropriate to the comprehension level of learners, making room for contemporary core – topics and emerging curricular areas in Physics.
The higher secondary stage is crucial and challenging stage of school education as it is a transition from general science to discipline-based curriculum. Physics is being offered as an elective subject at the higher secondary stage of school education. At this stage, the students take up Physics, as a discipline, with a purpose of pursuing their future careers in basic sciences or professional courses like medicine, engineering, technology and studying courses in applied areas of science and technology at tertiary level. There is a need to provide the learners with sufficient conceptual background of Physics which would eventually make them competent to meet the challenges of academic and professional courses after the higher secondary stage.
Key points for developing subject matter :
- Strengthen the concepts developed at the secondary stage to provide firm ground work and foundation for further learning Physics at the tertiary level more effectively and learning the relationship with daily-life situations.
- Develop conceptual competence in the learners and make them realize and appreciate the interface of Physics with other disciplines.
- Expose the learners to different processes used in Physics-related industrial and technological applications.
- Develop process-skills and experimental, observational, manipulative, decision-making and investigatory skills in the learners.
- Promote problem-solving abilities and creative thinking to develop interest in the learners in the study of Physics as a discipline.
- Understand the relationship between nature and matter on scientific basis, develop positive scientific attitude, and appreciate the contribution of Physics towards the improvement of quality of life and human welfare.
- Physics teaching-learning at the higher secondary stage enables the learners to comprehend the contemporary knowledge and develop aesthetic sensibilities and process skills. The experimental skills and process-skills developed together with conceptual Physics knowledge prepare the learners for more meaningful learning experiences and contribute to the significant improvement of quality of life. The learners would also appreciate the role and impact of Physics and technology, and their linkages with overall national development.