As I understand it (and of course, I may be wrong!)....

In classical mechanics, all objects are basically the same in the sense that

  1. They are composed of atoms bunched together.
  2. These atoms occupy some measurable volume.
  3. The group together has some definable shape at a given point in time (even if it changes later).

So for the purposes of classical mechanics, all objects have these characteristics. This is a uniform description that adequately describes all classical objects.

My Confusion

Once I started studying beyond the Newtonian world, I got very confused what the "fundamental" objects are exactly. As I understand it, QFT is the accepted view for the E&M, weak, and strong and GR for gravity though we've acknowledged it's incomplete. So one could say that, the fundamental objects are the ones we use in those areas.

But obviously from a pragmatic point of view, we still use models that have flawed definitions of the objects of study but are still useful models. For instance, point charges in electrostatics. We know particles aren't localized. So how can a point charge exist at a point? It can't. But it's still a useful way to think about the world.

What I Want

I want a list of the basic fundamental "objects" assumed in different models. Example in random order: point charges, photon fields, electromagnetic field, sources, etc. That way I can familiarize myself with the different ways we think about different phenomena. Ideally this list would also provide a short statement (even bullet pointed) of why the model is inadequate and which one replaced it.

My Question

Does anyone know of a book or a resources that presents a typology for different areas of physics of the fundamental objects being described? If typology is the wrong word, then I want _____ (NOUN that matches what I described in the previous section).


Typology -- study and classification of objects according to their structural features

  • $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/41676/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Mar 3 '15 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that you can even get physicists to agree what the fundamental objects are (actually, I'm quite certain you can't), so asking for a typology of fundamental objects is...not all that useful. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 3 '15 at 17:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.