What is Physics???

Discussion in 'Physics' started by samuelsun, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. samuelsun

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Hi to all ... I have general knowledge about physics .physics is really a nice subject.. I would like to know proper definition of physics ??? Have you any Basic phenomena about physics?? Name of the fonder of the physics?? Where the physics is going to began??? Purpose of the beginning of physics??? Please share your golden knowledge with us??? Thanks
  2. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
  3. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Before there was physics as a formal discipline, there were natural philosophers. This was before the age of science, where thought experiments were put on par with physical experiments, so natural laws were considered philosophy. I hate philosophy, the practitioners try to consider it a formal discipline, while I think of it (mostly) as a form of sexual mental exercise, and worth about as much.
  4. tyblu

    Active Member

    Nov 29, 2010
    You should take a peek at philosophy again. It is important to appreciate that those writing these texts were very intelligent, and to give their thoughts full merit, as only after understanding exactly what they are saying can one start to argue against them. Not to say that all of what the old philosophers claimed was right -- modern philosophy has progressed from them just as modern science has -- but much of what they said was right, applies today, and is fundamental towards functioning as a modern human being. As you are from the US you may be interested in John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty", which talks about the fine line between freedom and security, and society's involvement in it.
  5. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    No, don't think so. Most would be philosophers argue in circles. We've had more than one person try to argue using philosophy about science, or electronics. The scientific method is much better. Pardon my lousy french spelling, but ja na qua (it does not follow)?

    Philosophy has its place, but not in science. As a subject it interests me not at all. It doesn't help that most of the people I've met over time that want to argue it are idiots, and can't distinguish between facts, theories, or even reality.

    Many natural philosophers in the day would have made fine scientists. They were asking important questions, but they didn't have the tools to pursue the answers in a coherent manner.
  6. BillO

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maybe "Il ne suit pas".

    However, I think it requires a philosophical mind to truly appreciate, work with and understand physics. Sometimes you have to stray really far from the beaten path to see (as in understand) something truly new. There is not much in the scientific method that helps with 'wild ideas' and it does not lend much to original thought. It's great once a hypothesis has been fully developed, but the journey there requires more of philosophy than of scientific method.
  7. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
    Einstein and Archimedes, among many others, come to mind as philosophers who were pretty good scientists. We still call the highest degree, Doctor of Philosophy in many schools.

    The, "how long is a piece of string," and, "if a tree falls and no one is around, does it make a sound," discussions bore me too.

  8. tyblu

    Active Member

    Nov 29, 2010
    You're right -- most armchair philosophers, as like the rest of the rabble, are only interested in appearances. There are many genuine thinkers, though it is difficult to give the benefit of the doubt -- I mean, have you read some of the comments on YouTube lately? The scientific method has been the tool and advent of philosophers for ages. Great intellectuals of the past, scientists, have had no choice but be philosophers as well, going all the way back to The Socratic Method and Aristotle. Today we grapple with theoretical physics, mixing mathematics with imagination in a logical framework, set in place by great thinkers of the past; we also go over age-old questions of morality and freedom, oblivious to centuries of prior debate and progress. We all seek the truth, whether is be "will this trace geometry pick up too much noise from the environment?"; or "does our government have the right to record my phone call?"

    It's a dense subject. There is a lot of content, written in alien language. Kant is a pain in the arse to read, but a genius. I still haven't made it through a single one of his texts. The danger is to become one of the armchair assholes -- one must always be vigilant! Some day, when the 'rat race' no longer exists, we will be able to study at our leisure and it will not appear to be so daunting. In the meantime, I just assume that I'm pretty retarded and don't know enough to know anything for sure. ;)

    <edit> Pretty sure this is OT, now! No apologies, though, as the question deserved nothing more than JFGI.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  9. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    Not really off topic. Philosophy exists, like it or not. It is a framework we use to place the world in. Every different philosophy forces us to see relationships between parts of the world in different ways.

    Expressed philosophy arises from the zeitgeist. As our understanding of the world changes over time, so do the philosophies.

    Philosophers do tend to have bad cases of OCB. Keeping Kant as the paradigm of the over-the-top philosopher, we can see how utterly important it is for them to make everybody see the world through the same glasses. Some of the members here have have vast stakes in forcing their view of electronics (or some portion thereof) on the general membership.

    As a general note, being a PIA does not mean that you have no contribution to make, but that extra bit of understanding can get lost in the noise generated by rants.
  10. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    I can understand why Bill gets annoyed with philosophy. I do also, at times. It's not that there is anything wrong with the discipline. It is a subject that is just as rigorous as any science. Logic is critical to clear thinking in philosophy. I think the main divergence between science and philosophy is that science deals with experimental evidence as a testing ground for starting assumptions. In philosophy the starting assumptions are either arbitrary or tied to unverifiable deep-rooted human values (either from religion or conscience). The reason why we still need philosophy is that not all questions of human concern can be dealt with scientifically.

    In one sense Bill is being unfair because we see just as many crack-pot scientists as we do crack-pot philosophers. Still, he is not being that unfair because I've seen many qualified philosophers that are not able to see their own biases, and without an objective outside test, nothing forces them to see that their deeply held assumptions are unprovable. While it's interesting to figure out logical conclusions from given assumptions, it's annoying to have someone insist that assumptions are true without proof. Of course, a good philosopher should not do the latter.

    As and example of this latter point, I had a college philosophy teacher that could not separate his deeply held christian beliefs from his philosophy teaching. He actually believed that he could prove that abortion, at any point after conception, was wrong using philosophical arguments and without reference to religious doctrines. When a student pointed out that the conclusion is only valid if we accept his unprovable starting assumptions, he would talk in circles until everyone was lost enough to just shut up.

    Science forces scientists to be more objective. For example, the scientist Kepler (arguably the first real theorectical physicist) had to abandon his "platonic solids" structure of the solar system when it did not agree with astronomical observations. He eventually figured out his Kepler's three laws and determined that planets orbit the sun in ellipses with the sun at one focus. Only experimental data led him to these results. This then set the stage for Newton to unify nonrelativistic mechanics under a universal theory. Newton was convinced that light was particles, but was later disproved by Maxwell who proved it is waves. Now we have quantum mechnics telling us that it is both a wave and a particle. Maxwell also believed light traveled in the ether, but Einstein disproved that. Einstein would not accept the uncertainty of Quantum Mechanics, but could never dispove it. etc. etc.

    There are many more examples of famous scientists being wrong and eventually abandoning their deeply held ideas in the face of experimental evidence. Anyway, the discipline of philosophy is just as fine as that of science, but it is a very rare person who is objective enough to do philosophy without bias, and there is no outside standard to keep a biased person on track. The guidance must come from within, but given that humans are so flawed, how do we objectively know when a person is unbiased and well-guided? A scientist can be biased and flawed, and yet produce amazing work. Why? Because there is an outside guiding stardard to keep him on track. (EDIT: Of course, the philosopher may point out that the outside experimental standard is an illusion, and then we're really screwed!)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  11. tyblu

    Active Member

    Nov 29, 2010
    I think the idea that philosophers do not have concrete evidence is caused by those aforementioned arm-chair philosophers, interested only in their agenda (politics, prestige, money) and appearances. Our reaction to and understanding of philosophical debate has been poisoned by a class of know-it-all <snip>, an infectious disease spread over the internet! I doubt this is much different from the past, though. Great thinkers of the past started their arguments very carefully. It is very difficult to reject their bases. Today, their arguments are sometimes twisted into circular diatribe; this is difficult to argue against without full understanding of the original document, despite the obvious feeling that the opponent is wrong. And even if you do raise a valid point, your voice may not be heard. Best to deliver a series of devastating dropkicks to the head.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2010