While reading a textbook, I came across this statement:

"A precise definition of physics is neither possible nor necessary."

I was curious why it is not possible but the textbook never explained why it is not possible. The question is silly but I am just curious.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Physics is the fundamental science, from which all other sciences can be derived. Chemistry is derived from the nature of the electron, described in physics. $\endgroup$
    – Jimmy360
    May 30, 2015 at 16:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What textbook was it and how old is it? This is an opinion question, so it may not fit in here $\endgroup$
    – user81619
    May 30, 2015 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ This is true for any science. $\endgroup$
    – Shep
    May 30, 2015 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ Mathematics sits at the tops, with physics as a subset $\endgroup$
    – user56903
    May 30, 2015 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Jimmy360 "Physics is the fundamental science, from which all other sciences can be derived" - contentious, to say the least $\endgroup$
    – innisfree
    May 30, 2015 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


One reason is the lack of clear boundaries between physics and other disciplines: for example applied mathematics; quantum chemistry; biophysics.


This is going to be the case in any field of research. It's not possible because new areas of research appear constantly at the intersection of fields and you may define it differently based on which side you're on.

It's not necessary because no one actually works on "physics", they do particle physics, or biophysics, medical imaging, solid state physics, or quantum computing, cosmology... the list goes on.

I guess someone could come up with a list of all the current experiments and theories that are officially part of the "physics" canon, but it's not clear how that would help anyone, and in the mean time we have real problems to solve.


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