We can get some idea of the scope of physics by looking at its various sub-disciplines. Basically, there are two domains of interest: macroscopic and microscopic. The macroscopic domain includes phenomena at the laboratory, terrestrial and astronomical scales. The microscopic domain includes atomic, molecular and nuclear phenomena. Classical Physics deals mainly with macroscopic phenomena and includes subjects like Mechanics. Electrodynamics, Optics and Thermodynamics. Mechanics founded on Newton’s laws of motion and the law of gravitation is concerned with the motion (or equilibrium) of particles, rigid and deformable bodies, and general systems of particles. The propulsion of a rocket by a jet of ejecting gases, propagation of water waves or sound waves in air, the equilibrium of a bent rod under a load, etc., are problems of mechanics. Electrodynamics deals with electric and magnetic phenomena associated with charged and magnetic bodies. Its basic laws were given by Coulomb, Oersted, Ampere and Faraday, and encapsulated by Maxwell in his famous set of equations. The motion of a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field, the response of a circuit to an ac voltage (signal), the working of an antenna, the propagation of radio waves in the ionosphere, etc., are problems of electrodynamics. Optics deals with the phenomena involving light. The working of telescopes and microscopes, colours exhibited by thin films, etc., are topics in optics. Thermodynamics, in contrast to mechanics, does not deal with the motion of bodies as a whole. Rather, it deals with systems in macroscopic equilibrium and is concerned with changes in internal energy, temperature, entropy, etc., of the system through external work and transfer of heat. The efficiency of heat engines and refrigerators, the direction of a physical or chemical process, etc., are problems of interest in thermodynamics.

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Physics XI | 1.1 WHAT IS PHYSICS ?


Humans have always been curious about the world around them. The night sky with Its bright celestial objects has fascinated humans since time Immemorial. The regular repetitions of the day and night, the annual cycle of seasons, the eclipses, the tides, the volcanoes, the rainbow have always been a source of wonder. The world has an astonishing variety of materials and a bewildering diversity of life and behaviour. The Inquiring and Imaginative human mind has responded to the wonder and awe of nature In different ways. One kind of response from the earliest times has been to observe the physical environment carefully, look for any meaningful patterns and relations In natural phenomena, and build and use new tools to Interact with nature. This human endeavour led. In course of time, to modern science and technology.

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