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Studying Physics Prof. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148 106

Every subject of education has its own importance and preference by the student pursuing it. However, after independence when portals of higher education became realistic to even common people of the country, studying physics in India has seen a golden period in 70s and 80s. Students from very moderate (rural & urban) as well as from even illiterate parents got the opportunity to pursue higher education and without any big expectations towards life many of them opted physics as a course in their higher education taking up all challenges of its hard work. Physics was the most popular subject at that time and most of the toppers of class used to opt for pursuing Physics as a higher learning course. That was the input that India today has a very strong force of physicists in their 50s and many of them have achieved great highest in their career. But situation changed with the liberalization and vocationalization of education and students ran away from hard nut courses like Physics to opt for easy going vocational courses and there have been created a void of people studying physics. With the growing unemployability of the engineering graduates and other vocational trainees, there is a hope that students will start studying physics not only for the sake of their employability but also for the benefits which studying of physics bestow on them as compared to other courses. In this article author has tried to highlight the importance of studying physics with a hope that it will challenge and motivate students to think to go for physics in their higher education courses. Past & present view: Physics was the prize area which Alfred Nobel mentioned first in his will. At that time, in the end of the nineteenth century, many people viewed physics as the foremost of the sciences, and perhaps Nobel saw it this way as well. His own research was also closely tied to physics. In 1901 the very first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Wilhelm Röntgen for his discovery of Xrays. In more recent years, the Physics Prize has been awarded for both pioneering discoveries and ground breaking inventions. The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. Asked what made him (Prof Ashoke Sen, Harish-Chandra Research Institute,Allahabad), the recipient of Fundamental Physics Prize (US$ 3million) set up by Yuri Milner, a Russian Internet entrepreneur, and some call it the “Russian Nobel Prize”, to pursue a career in physics, he says: “There were several factors. My father was a physics teacher and when I was growing up, physics was the most popular subject. In my batch, five of the top 10 scorers in the examination studied physics with me at Presidency College, Kolkata. I got motivated to work in string theory after a discovery by Michael Green and John Schwarz in 1984.” What is Physics? Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science. Physics challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and string theory, and it leads to great discoveries, like computers and lasers, that lead to technologies which change our lives—from healing joints, to curing cancer, to developing sustainable energy solutions. Physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. Moreover, it’s the basis of


many other sciences, including chemistry, oceanography, seismology, and astronomy (and can be applied to biology or medical science). All are easily accessible with a bachelor’s degree in physics. If you have a passion for understanding how things work and enjoy scientific experiments and mathematics, then you should study physics. Physics is the foundation of modern science and has fascinated men and women of every age. Physics is the study of the mechanical universe. It is the basic science that underlies all the natural sciences. It is a search for the basic rules of the behavior of matter and energy on every scale: from the interaction of subatomic particles, to the motion of everyday objects, to the evolution of galaxies. Physics consists of many sub-fields, including particle and nuclear physics, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, optics, solid state physics, biological and medical physics, computational physics, acoustics, astrophysics and cosmology. Discoveries by physicists, like quantum phenomena and the theory of the Big Bang, have literally transformed our view of the natural world. Inventions like the transistor and the laser have fueled the modern technological revolution. We can look forward to even more exhilarating breakthroughs in the future - a future that holds exciting opportunities for the physics students of today. Qualities of Physics Physics is challenging and this is one aspect that scares off many students but it is precisely one of the most important reasons why you should study physics. All of us - including professional physicists - find college physics courses challenging, because they require us to master the many concepts and skills that make training in physics so valuable in such a wide range of careers. This also means that physics is much harder to learn after college than other subjects like history or psychology or computer programming. Physics helps us to understand how the world around us works, from can openers, light bulbs and cell phones to muscles, lungs and brains; from paints, piccolos and pirouettes to cameras, cars and cathedrals; from earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes to quarks, DNA and black holes. Physics helps us to organize the universe. It deals with fundamentals, and helps us to see the connections between seemly disparate phenomena. Physics gives us powerful tools to help us to express our creativity, to see the world in new ways and then to change it. Physics provides quantitative and analytic skills needed for analyzing data and solving problems in the sciences, engineering and medicine, as well as in economics, finance, management, law and public policy. Physics is the basis for most modern technology, and for the tools and instruments used in scientific, engineering and medical research and development. Manufacturing is dominated by physics-based technology. Physics helps us to help others. Doctors that don’t understand physics can be dangerous. Medicine without physics technology would be barbaric. Schools without qualified physics teachers cut their students off from a host of well-respected, well paying careers. Studying Physics It is a fair assumption that the majority of physics students, both past and present, would agree that physics is one of the more difficult subjects studied in senior school. Indeed many students find it difficult to even define physics, let alone grasp the subtleties of all the formulas made up of strange looking symbols. Physics is the science that attempts to describe how nature works using the language of mathematics. It is often considered the most fundamental of all the natural sciences and its theories attempt to describe the behavior of the smallest building blocks of matter, light, the Universe and everything in between. Perhaps it is the general lack of understanding of what physics is, combined with the subject’s inherent difficulty and reliance on


mathematics, which tends to discourage a student from studying physics. If a student doesn’t understand what physics is they are unlikely to grasp the relevance of physics to society, and more importantly the relevance of physics to them. It is clearly important that students need to know why physics is important and what careers or other benefits may stem from studying physics. The importance of physics to society today is most easily represented by our reliance on technology. Many of the technologies that that are continually transforming the world we live in can be directly traced back to important physics research. There are countless examples of research in physics leading to the development of important technologies. It is hoped that today’s research on nanostructures (structures a billion times smaller than a meter), quantum information or photonics (basically electronics with light) will lead to the next generation of technologies including faster and more robust computers and communication systems. On a less tangible level physical theories have allowed us to obtain a greater grasp of the Universe we live in. It is the theories of physics that provide us with some of our deepest notions of Space, Time, Matter and Energy. Physical theories allow us to conceptualize the workings of the building blocks of all matter. These are things we would never be able to experience in everyday life. At the other extreme the theories of cosmology tell us how the Universe began and how it could possibly end. The study of physics in schools and universities is undoubtedly relevant to society today. However an individual deciding whether to study physics in senior school has to decide whether physics is relevant to them. We are living in a technologically advanced age in which the average person relies on technology without understanding how that technology works. Perhaps the greatest skill a physics student develops is a sense of wonder about how things work. A physics student usually possesses excellent analytical, quantitative and problem solving skills. They have the ability to synthesize and analyze large quantities of data and present their analysis in an easily understandable form. When faced with a particular problem they are taught to systematically identify all factors contributing to the problem and work out how those factors interact in order to solve the problem. These are valuable skills that can be applied in a range of careers. More importantly an increasing number of employers are starting to realize this fact and are looking to hire physics graduates. Job opportunities Although the number of job ads specifically asking for physicists is smaller than, e.g., for engineers, the job market for those with skills in physics is more diverse and is always strong. Because physics encourages quantitative, analytical and “big picture” thinking, physicists are more likely to end up in top management and policy positions than other technical professionals. Physicists work in a wide variety of professions in science, technology, and education. Physicists can conduct basic research at a university or a national laboratory, or applied research in an industrial or commercial setting. Experimental physicists usually work in a lab and seek to test hypotheses and theories, to make discoveries of new phenomena, or to develop new applications of ideas. Theoretical physicists use mathematics to develop explanations of experimental data, formulate new theories, and make new predictions hypotheses. Recently, a third branch of physics has emerged, computational physics, in which high-performance computers are used to do calculations which cannot be done analytically, or to simulate experiments that are difficult or impossible to perform in a laboratory. Physicists also communicate their ideas, either by presenting scientific papers, writing patents, developing software, or by teaching at the university and high school levels. Even when the job market is slow, physicists get job offers—well paying


jobs. Employers know that a physicist brings additional skills with expertise and pay accordingly. That's why physics graduates can expect career salaries similar to those of computer science and engineering majors. Physics brings a broad perspective to any problem. Because they learn how to consider any problem they are not bound by context. This inventive thinking makes physicists desirable in any field. A bachelor’s degree in physics is a great foundation for careers in many disciplines like: Journalism, Law, Finance, Medicine, Engineering, Computer Science, Astronomy and Biology etc. Physicists are also playing a significant role in medical instrumentation and health care delivery. They are needed to operate a multitude of clinical equipment found in hospitals, or to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients using nuclear radiation, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound techniques. Acknowledgement: The use of information retrieved through various references/sources of internet in this article is highly acknowledged.


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