Physics » The Nature of Physics » Physics: An Introduction

Summary and Main Ideas

Summary of lessons so far

The following are the main ideas from the past few lessons:

  • Science seeks to discover and describe the underlying order and simplicity in nature.
  • Physics is the most basic of the sciences, concerning itself with energy, matter, space and time, and their interactions.
  • Scientific laws and theories express the general truths of nature and the body of knowledge they encompass. These laws of nature are rules that all natural processes appear to follow.

Glossary of words

Classical physics

physics that was developed from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century


the science concerned with describing the interactions of energy, matter, space, and time; it is especially interested in what fundamental mechanisms underlie every phenomenon


representation of something that is often too difficult (or impossible) to display directly


an explanation for patterns in nature that is supported by scientific evidence and verified multiple times by various groups of researchers


a description, using concise language or a mathematical formula, a generalized pattern in nature that is supported by scientific evidence and repeated experiments

Scientific method

a method that typically begins with an observation and question that the scientist will research; next, the scientist typically performs some research about the topic and then devises a hypothesis; then, the scientist will test the hypothesis by performing an experiment; finally, the scientist analyzes the results of the experiment and draws a conclusion

Modern physics

the study of relativity, quantum mechanics, or both


the study of objects moving at speeds greater than about 1% of the speed of light, or of objects being affected by a strong gravitational field

Quantum mechanics

the study of objects smaller than can be seen with a microscope

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