What is physics?

By Marcus Wilson 04/10/2013 3


One of the many good education-focused talks at the NZ Institute of Physics conference last week was by Kerry Parker of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu and the University of Otago. She described her own and  her students' experiences of attending the International Young Physicists' Tournament. The tournament stretches students far beyond the confines of the secondary school curriculum by using really open-ended questions (so open-ended that the 'right' answer is actually still a matter of debate and research.) Kerry showed a few film snippets of the tournament and interviews with students, both during and after it. One student quote I wrote down since it explained beautifully what physics is about:

Physics is not a set of laws inscribed in stone but rather a means to explore and understand the world around us.

I would challenge anyone to put it more succinctly than that. 


3 Responses to “What is physics?”

  • Thanks for that quote it’s beautiful, my interepretation of this is that maybe the laws of physics haven’t been completed and revised yet.
    Maybe one day we will know…

  • One might argue that the laws of physics will never be completed – one can always ask ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ at finer and finer levels.

  • And, if you look at the list of things that are investigated at IYPT, there’s a whole truckload of fairly mundane looking phenomena that so far remain mysterious as far as science is concerned – and it’s likely that this list will continue to grow.