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50 Essential Facts About Physics

The 50 facts that you MUST know on your way to becoming an expert physicist!

Everything remains at rest unless a force is applied to itMechanics
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
Energy cannot be created nor destroyed but it can change forms
The pull of gravity between 2 objects depends on their mass and distance
If we know an object's mass / acceleration we can work out the forces on it
Heat cannot travel to an area that is warmer than its current oneThermodynamics
It is impossible to reach a temperature of absolute zero
An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is its R-Value
Thermodynamics is the study of how heat relates to other forms of energy
Temperature is actually a measure of kinetic energy (movement)
Electromagnetism is the study of the link between electricity and magnetismElectromagnetism
Electric currents create magnetic fields
Similarly, magnetic fields can create voltages
Knowing this has allowed us to develop electromagnets
And transformers, which transfer power between two circuits
Nothing can travel faster than lightRelativity
The faster you travel, the slower time goes for you
Time also goes more slowly if gravity is stronger
In theory, if you could travel faster than light, time would go backwards
Only space can travel faster than light - but it is not matter or energy
Everything that exists is actually a waveQuantum Theory
For subatomic particles time is meaningless
Subatomic particles can be in many places at once - until we look at them
It is impossible to predict quantum events. Instead we use probability
Schrödinger's cat is a famous illustration of quantum theory
Optics is the study of light's behaviour, qualities and interactions with matterOptics
There are invisible kinds of light, like X-rays, radio waves and ultra violet
Some materials slow light down. Glass reduces its speed by about 25%
Everything we can see either produces light (like the Sun) or reflects it
Some materials bend light (think of lenses). We call this refraction
Nuclear physics is the study of atoms' nucleiNuclear
Elements are created and stars shine all because of nuclear fusion
Heavier elements are not made by stars but by collisions of neutron stars
Nuclear fission splits atoms, releasing vast amounts of energy
One downside of nuclear power is radioactive waste
Cosmology studies the beginning and development of the universeCosmology
The Big Bang is the best model we have for the beginning of the universe
What happened before the Big Bang is unknown. Time may have begun then
Since then the universe has been constantly expanding
Dark Matter is a mystery. We know it exists but cannot detect it
Condensed matter physics studies the macroscopic properties of matterMatter
Most studies are concerned with solids, the densest kinds of matter
It has helped us to understand how metals "work"
And this has brought us transistors, solar cells and other technologies
However, it is seen as "boring" by many and few physicists study it
Galileo’s Tower of Pisa experiment changed our understanding of gravityHistory
And Copernicus proved that the Earth orbits the Sun
Sir Isaac Newton changed physics more than anybody else
Although Einstein is more famous because of his E=MC² equation
The ultimate aim of physics is a "Theory of Everything"

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