Relationship between physics and astronomy

What is the relation of physics to astronomy

relationship between physics and astronomy

Although most of the mathematics needed to understand the information acquired through astronomical observation comes from physics, there are .. structure and change and the relationships between these concepts is. Physics is the natural science that studies matter and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main Egyptian astronomers left monuments showing knowledge of the constellations and the. There was an interesting early relationship between physics and biology in .. of astronomy is that the stars are made of atoms of the same kind as those on the.

In the early years most courses will build upon your understanding in core physics areas such as classical mechanics, electric and magnetic fields, optics, waves, thermodynamics, quantum physics and relativity.

relationship between physics and astronomy

Alongside these subjects, the mathematical techniques that underpin the physics are a significant part of all physics and astronomy courses. Typically, the subject-specific aspect of your course, such as astrophysics, cosmology or particle physics, will increase as you proceed through your degree. Meanwhile, the core content will reduce as you spend more of your time focussing on your chosen subjects. Your theoretical understanding is usually reinforced and sometimes challenged!

Most Physics and Astronomy degrees, especially the four-year courses, will include a substantial research project in the last year. This gives you the opportunity to work on a current research topic linked to your chosen degree specialisation over many months, closely supervised by a research supervisor who is an expert in that field.

We do not know how to read it. Certainly no subject or field is making more progress on so many fronts at the present moment, than biology, and if we were to name the most powerful assumption of all, which leads one on and on in an attempt to understand life, it is that all things are made of atoms, and that everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jigglings and wigglings of atoms. Astronomy is older than physics. In fact, it got physics started by showing the beautiful simplicity of the motion of the stars and planets, the understanding of which was the beginning of physics.

But the most remarkable discovery in all of astronomy is that the stars are made of atoms of the same kind as those on the earth. Atoms liberate light which has definite frequencies, something like the timbre of a musical instrument, which has definite pitches or frequencies of sound.

When we are listening to several different tones we can tell them apart, but when we look with our eyes at a mixture of colors we cannot tell the parts from which it was made, because the eye is nowhere near as discerning as the ear in this connection.

However, with a spectroscope we can analyze the frequencies of the light waves and in this way we can see the very tunes of the atoms that are in the different stars. As a matter of fact, two of the chemical elements were discovered on a star before they were discovered on the earth. Helium was discovered on the sun, whence its name, and technetium was discovered in certain cool stars.

This, of course, permits us to make headway in understanding the stars, because they are made of the same kinds of atoms which are on the earth. Now we know a great deal about the atoms, especially concerning their behavior under conditions of high temperature but not very great density, so that we can analyze by statistical mechanics the behavior of the stellar substance.

Even though we cannot reproduce the conditions on the earth, using the basic physical laws we often can tell precisely, or very closely, what will happen. So it is that physics aids astronomy. Strange as it may seem, we understand the distribution of matter in the interior of the sun far better than we understand the interior of the earth. What goes on inside a star is better understood than one might guess from the difficulty of having to look at a little dot of light through a telescope, because we can calculate what the atoms in the stars should do in most circumstances.

One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of the stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girlfriend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. She was not impressed with being out with the only man who, at that moment, knew why stars shine.

Well, it is sad to be alone, but that is the way it is in this world. Furthermore, ultimately, the manufacture of various chemical elements proceeds in the centers of the stars, from hydrogen. How do we know?

relationship between physics and astronomy

Because there is a clue. The proportions are purely the result of nuclear reactions. By looking at the proportions of the isotopes in the cold, dead ember which we are, we can discover what the furnace was like in which the stuff of which we are made was formed. Astronomy is so close to physics that we shall study many astronomical things as we go along. First, meteorology and the weather. Of course the instruments of meteorology are physical instruments, and the development of experimental physics made these instruments possible, as was explained before.

However, the theory of meteorology has never been satisfactorily worked out by the physicist. It turns out to be very sensitive, and even unstable. If you have ever seen water run smoothly over a dam, and then turn into a large number of blobs and drops as it falls, you will understand what I mean by unstable.

You know the condition of the water before it goes over the spillway; it is perfectly smooth; but the moment it begins to fall, where do the drops begin? What determines how big the lumps are going to be and where they will be? That is not known, because the water is unstable. Even a smooth moving mass of air, in going over a mountain turns into complex whirlpools and eddies. In many fields we find this situation of turbulent flow that we cannot analyze today.

Quickly we leave the subject of weather, and discuss geology! The question basic to geology is, what makes the earth the way it is? The most obvious processes are in front of your very eyes, the erosion processes of the rivers, the winds, etc.

It is easy enough to understand these, but for every bit of erosion there is an equal amount of something else going on. Mountains are no lower today, on the average, than they were in the past. There must be mountain-forming processes. You will find, if you study geology, that there are mountain-forming processes and volcanism, which nobody understands but which is half of geology.

The phenomenon of volcanoes is really not understood. What makes an earthquake is, ultimately, not understood. It is understood that if something is pushing something else, it snaps and will slide—that is all right.

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But what pushes, and why? The theory is that there are currents inside the earth—circulating currents, due to the difference in temperature inside and outside—which, in their motion, push the surface slightly.

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Thus if there are two opposite circulations next to each other, the matter will collect in the region where they meet and make belts of mountains which are in unhappy stressed conditions, and so produce volcanoes and earthquakes. What about the inside of the earth? A great deal is known about the speed of earthquake waves through the earth and the density of distribution of the earth. However, physicists have been unable to get a good theory as to how dense a substance should be at the pressures that would be expected at the center of the earth.

In other words, we cannot figure out the properties of matter very well in these circumstances. We do much less well with the earth than we do with the conditions of matter in the stars. The mathematics involved seems a little too difficult, so far, but perhaps it will not be too long before someone realizes that it is an important problem, and really works it out.

The other aspect, of course, is that even if we did know the density, we cannot figure out the circulating currents. Nor can we really work out the properties of rocks at high pressure. Incidentally, psychoanalysis is not a science: The witch doctor has a theory that a disease like malaria is caused by a spirit which comes into the air; it is not cured by shaking a snake over it, but quinine does help malaria. So, if you are sick, I would advise that you go to the witch doctor because he is the man in the tribe who knows the most about the disease; on the other hand, his knowledge is not science.

Psychoanalysis has not been checked carefully by experiment, and there is no way to find a list of the number of cases in which it works, the number of cases in which it does not work, etc.

The other branches of psychology, which involve things like the physiology of sensation—what happens in the eye, and what happens in the brain—are, if you wish, less interesting. But some small but real progress has been made in studying them. One of the most interesting technical problems may or may not be called psychology. The central problem of the mind, if you will, or the nervous system, is this: In what way is it different?

We do not know where to look, or what to look for, when something is memorized. We do not know what it means, or what change there is in the nervous system, when a fact is learned. This is a very important problem which has not been solved at all. Assuming, however, that there is some kind of memory thing, the brain is such an enormous mass of interconnecting wires and nerves that it probably cannot be analyzed in a straightforward manner.

There is an analog of this to computing machines and computing elements, in that they also have a lot of lines, and they have some kind of element, analogous, perhaps, to the synapse, or connection of one nerve to another. This is a very interesting subject which we have not the time to discuss further—the relationship between thinking and computing machines.

It must be appreciated, of course, that this subject will tell us very little about the real complexities of ordinary human behavior. All human beings are so different.

Mathematics/Astronomy

It will be a long time before we get there. We must start much further back. If we could even figure out how a dog works, we would have gone pretty far. Dogs are easier to understand, but nobody yet knows how dogs work. If they tell him what a frog is, that there are so many molecules, there is a nerve here, etc.

If they will tell us, more or less, what the earth or the stars are like, then we can figure it out. In order for physical theory to be of any use, we must know where the atoms are located. In order to understand the chemistry, we must know exactly what atoms are present, for otherwise we cannot analyze it. That is but one limitation, of course.

There is another kind of problem in the sister sciences which does not exist in physics; we might call it, for lack of a better term, the historical question.

How did it get that way? If we understand all about biology, we will want to know how all the things which are on the earth got there. There is the theory of evolution, an important part of biology. In geology, we not only want to know how the mountains are forming, but how the entire earth was formed in the beginning, the origin of the solar system, etc.

That, of course, leads us to want to know what kind of matter there was in the world. How did the stars evolve? What were the initial conditions? That is the problem of astronomical history. A great deal has been found out about the formation of stars, the formation of elements from which we were made, and even a little about the origin of the universe. Technologies based on mathematics, like computation have made computational physics an active area of research.

The distinction between mathematics and physics is clear-cut, but not always obvious, especially in mathematical physics.

relationship between physics and astronomy

Ontology is a prerequisite for physics, but not for mathematics. It means physics is ultimately concerned with descriptions of the real world, while mathematics is concerned with abstract patterns, even beyond the real world. Thus physics statements are synthetic, while mathematical statements are analytic. Mathematics contains hypotheses, while physics contains theories. Mathematics statements have to be only logically true, while predictions of physics statements must match observed and experimental data.

The distinction is clear-cut, but not always obvious. For example, mathematical physics is the application of mathematics in physics. Its methods are mathematical, but its subject is physical. Every mathematical statement used for solving has a hard-to-find physical meaning. The final mathematical solution has an easier-to-find meaning, because it is what the solver is looking for. Physics is also called "the fundamental science" because the subject of study of all branches of natural science like chemistry, astronomy, geology, and biology are constrained by laws of physics, [53] similar to how chemistry is often called the central science because of its role in linking the physical sciences.

For example, chemistry studies properties, structures, and reactions of matter chemistry's focus on the atomic scale distinguishes it from physics. Structures are formed because particles exert electrical forces on each other, properties include physical characteristics of given substances, and reactions are bound by laws of physics, like conservation of energy, mass, and charge.

Physics is applied in industries like engineering and medicine. Application and influence Archimedes' screwa simple machine for lifting The application of physical laws in lifting liquids Applied physics is a general term for physics research which is intended for a particular use.