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How the Enormous Field of Physics All Fits Together

Image: Dominic Walliman/YouTube
Image: Dominic Walliman/YouTube

Physics has a bit of an image problem. To some, it’s a fascinating and diverse field of study. To others, it’s a trigger word for math anxiety, or an instant soporific.

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If you fall into the latter category, chances are you’ve had a bad physics teacher, one who didn’t bother to put the science in context before throwing Maxwell’s equations at you. That’s unfortunate, because while math is the language of physics, physics is about much more than math. It’s about a world made of particles and waves, where objects warp space and time, filled with unseeable matter and strange forces that may or may not form the backbone of reality.

Physics, in short, is a rich tapestry of knowledge, accumulated over many generations and still growing. A new animation by physicist Dominic Walliman maps this entire tapestry out for us, right to the bleeding edge where scientists are trying to peer inside black holes and reconcile gravity with quantum mechanics. Impressively, Walliman does all of this in less than ten minutes.

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So, if you got bogged down in the math and missed the big picture, enjoy this elegant distillation of everything physics has taught us, everything we’ve yet to discover, and how all that knowledge and ignorance fits together.

[YouTube via Vox]

Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.

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DISCUSSION

Sigh. And medical physics is once again forgotten by the wayside.

(outside the 8000 of us currently at the RSNA summit, ofc! my first real conference, I’m super-stoked to be a physicist for the first time in god knows how long)