Physics is the systematic study of nature, focusing on discovering patterns in the behaviour of physical objects and phenomena.  The goal in physics is to formulate mathematical models which precisely describe and predict the behaviour of the physical world.  Fundamentally, physics is defined not by its subject matter, but by its approach.  The subject matter of physics is everything in the universe from subatomic particles to the large scale structure of the universe and from crystals to living creatures.  What unites all of these things is that they must obey fundamental and universal physical laws.  The purpose of physics is to uncover these universal laws.

Important sub-disciplines in physics include (this is far from an exhaustive list):

  • Mechanics: the study of the motion of physical objects and the causes of motion
  • Electricity and Magnetism: the study of electrical and magnetic fields, the effects of these fields on matter, and how they are produced by matter
  • Quantum Mechanics: the study of the motion and interactions of very small objects such as atoms and subatomic particles
  • Cosmology: the study of the large scale structure of the universe
  • Statistical Mechanics: the study of how large scale behaviours of a physical system arise from the interactions of the many small constituents of the system
  • Condensed Matter Physics: the study of properties and behaviours of solids and liquids
  • Biophysics: the study of how fundamental physical laws give rise to the phenomenon of life