Branches & Sub-Branches Of Physics

Physics is a branch of science that deals with the natural forces in our universe. It is a highly complex field with many branches each dealing with a select aspect of the physical world.

Physics as we know it today is split into five main branches. These branches of physics are Classical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. 

All of these branches and their sub-branches of physics are explored in this article.

Classical Mechanics

Classical Mechanics is a branch of physics that deals with motion and the forces that act upon it. It is one of the oldest and largest branches of physics, and is the basis of mechanistic physics and engineering. The most prominent sub-branches of Classical Mechanics are Statics, Kinematics, Dynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Material Mechanics.

Statics

Statics is a sub-branch of physics that deals with the analysis of rigid bodies when they are in static equilibrium situations. It involves the determination of the magnitude and direction of the forces acting upon them, as well as their equilibrium conditions. Statics is used to study structures such as bridges, buildings and frameworks.

Kinematics

Kinematics deals with the study of the motion of objects without performing any calculations on the forces that cause the motion. This branch uses equations of motion to study the movement of particles and rigid bodies. It is often used to design machines, such as robots and turbines

Dynamics

Dynamics is the study of the forces and their effects on the motion of objects. It is used to analyze and predict the motion of a mechanical system given an applied force or load. The equation of motion, which combines fundamental laws of motion and Newton’s law of universal gravitation, is used to calculate the motion of objects such as satellites and comets in space.

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Fluid Mechanics

Fluid Mechanics is a sub-branch of physics which deals with the study of fluids and their properties. This branch is often used to calculate behaviors such as pressure, velocity and other flow variables of gases and liquids. It also helps to develop tools such as engineering tools and associated software.

Material Mechanics

Material Mechanics is the analysis and study of the mechanical behavior of materials. It is used to determine the strength, hardness, durability and other mechanical properties of materials. This branch also plays an important role in the aerospace industry as it is responsible for the analysis and design of airframes.

Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is one of the oldest branches of physics and deals with the study of heat and its properties. This branch is used to analyze the energy output from machines, and helps engineers to design the best machines using available resources. The most notable sub-branches of Thermodynamics are Heat Transfer and Statistical Thermodynamics.

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer is the mechanism through which heat energy is exchanged from one object to another. This branch studies the different modes of heat transfer, such as conduction, convection and radiation, as well as their application in industrial processes. This helps engineers to design devices and systems which can efficiently use this heat energy and reduce wastage.

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Statistical Thermodynamics

Statistical Thermodynamics is the study of the behavior of systems at the molecular level. This branch uses the laws of probability to study the behavior of atoms and molecules, and to predict the physical properties of matter and its phase changes. This field of physics is used in the design of many nanotechnological devices.

Electromagnetism

Electromagnetism is a branch of physics that deals with the interaction between electrical and magnetic fields. It is often used to study the behavior of charged particles in electromagnetic fields and in various engineering applications. There are several sub-branches in Electromagnetism, such as Electrodynamics, Optics, Acoustics and Plasma Physics.

Electrodynamics

Electrodynamics is the study of the behavior of charged particles in electromagnetic fields. This branch is used to predict and analyze the behavior of electric and magnetic fields in a variety of engineering applications, such as electric motors and antennas. Electrodynamics is also used to study the behavior of light and other forms of radiation.

Optics

Optics is the study of the behavior of light and its interaction with matter. This branch is often used in the design of optical systems, such as cameras and telescopes, and to analyze the properties of light such as refraction, interference, diffraction and polarization.

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Acoustics

Acoustics is the study of sound and how it travels, reflects and interacts with physical objects. This branch is used to design devices and systems, such as loudspeakers and microphones. It is also used to analyze behaviors such as reverberation and sound absorption in concert halls and other enclosed spaces.

Plasma Physics

Plasma Physics is a sub-branch of physics which deals with the study of ionized gases, known as plasmas. This branch is used to study the behavior of plasmas in response to electric and magnetic fields, and to develop methods for controlling and using these plasmas in many engineering applications.

Quantum Mechanics

Quantum Mechanics is a branch of physics which deals with the behavior of matter and energy at the subatomic level. It uses the principles of quantum theory to analyze and predict the behavior of microscopic particles, as well as their interactions with each other and with light. This branch is often used in the development of medical and computing technologies.

Relativity

Relativity is a branch of physics that deals with the properties of space and time. It is used to analyze and predict the behavior of objects in extreme conditions such as near the speed of light. This branch is also used to study the behavior of objects in the presence of gravity and their effects on space-