I remember back in middle school, learnt physics in a few large categories:

1) force (kinetics) 2) heat 3) optical 4) electrics 5) atom physics

is it still valid or is it categorized by different rule now?

cause by this categorization:

all the computer, networking, software programming, even firmware can be part of electric physics

all the mechanical devices can be explained using appropriate kinetic physics theories

optical physics is relatively obvious (but now we have electric optics which I think is the combination of optical physics and quantum physics)

at the end of the day, everything we explained so far can be explained with physics + mathematics + chemistry (I would like roughly refer to biology here as well).

from this sense fully understanding code fundamentals of physics will help us master any of the professions that we are in now. Is it okay to interpret physics that way?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Dvij Mankad, Thomas Fritsch, M. Enns, Qmechanic Jun 15 at 3:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are no rules for how physics gets categorized. Various organizations and journals have their own way of doing it. Your list leaves out condensed matter physics, plasma physics, nuclear physics, particle physics, gravitational physics, cosmology, and probably lots of other things. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Jun 14 at 22:05

I personally never learnt such a division of subjects.

When we took our PhD exams we had 5 main categories of physics.

  1. Classical Mechanics (rigid body dynamics, and fluid mechanics, elasticity)

  2. Classical Electrodynamics (Electricity, Magnetism, Electromagnetic waves or light, circuits and electrical devices)

  3. Thermal and Statistical Mechanics (Heat, Ideal and real Gas laws, Engines, heat flow and conductivity, Kinetic theory of gasses)

  4. Quantum Mechanics (Foundation of modern physics. Basic theoretical understanding of Schrodinger's equation)

  5. Modern Physics (Relativity which is really modern mechanics, Applications of QM, Atomic and Molecular structures, Particle physics, Solid State Physics)

Optics has often been thought of as a separate field of study but is really part of Electrodynamics and in modern physics it's part of QFT, or QED more specifically. Clearly there are overlaps. For example, fluid mechanics involves classical mechanics analysis and statistical methods. The first 4 topics represent (in my opinion) fairly closed theoretical disciples that can be applied to ideal systems. The 5th topic was a mix of many different applications of the theoretical methods to understand modern phenomenon. When trying to understand real world systems we often need to apply multiple theoretical methods from each discipline to understand what's going on.

I would include General Relativity but this is really a replacement of Newtonian Mechanics. And Quantum Field Theory (QFT) is an extension of QM to relativistic field equations and gives rise to the standard model of force and matter interactions, for example the photon is a quantum state of the EM field.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your thorough explanation. I think you covered it all. $\endgroup$ – Dil Azat Jun 14 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ Just out of curiosity are you studying physics? $\endgroup$ – ggcg Jun 14 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ yes. I have some questions that maybe I should have had when I was much younger. however, it seems like now I got the opportunity and platform to ask some of my questions. if it seemed to simple or narrated in a bit complicated way, my sincere apologies. $\endgroup$ – Dil Azat Jun 26 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Not at all...... $\endgroup$ – ggcg Jun 26 at 17:55

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