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Classical Physics

Classical physics is a general term for areas of study that were around before roughly the 1900’s. It deals with the physics of everyday things - ice cubes, tennis balls, glue, bicycles... even tea! Classical physics can be divided into three main areas; kinematics, the physics of fields and waves, and thermodynamics.

Kinematics is the physics of moving things. Physical laws of this kind explain things like angular momentum and ballistics and have many applications. As well as being used in engineering, the laws of kinematics can be applied to many other areas of physics, such as astrophysics and geology.

The physics of fields and waves describes how energy is transferred by different kinds of vibrations. Classical descriptions of optical phenomena such as reflection, refraction and diffraction are explained by this field, as well as the physics of sound. Scientists working in this area develop more accurate theories to explain these things, and improve technologies such as sonar and ultrasound.

Thermodynamics is a broad area of physics that deals with temperature. As well as describing the nature of hot and cold, and how things get from one temperature to another, the laws of thermodynamics also tell us lots of information about the nature of gases. The idea of entropy, a very important physical concept which came about through thermodynamics, is not yet fully understood. Whilst thermodynamics can be approached classically, many of the laws can also be explained from a statistical or quantum point of view, making thermodynamics a fundamental aspect of physics.

There are many other aspects of classical physics that don’t fit directly into one of these categories, but rather somewhere in between. Fluid dynamics, for example, is the physics of how liquids and gases move. It covers things like viscosity and pressure. Newtonian gravity is also an important area, covering early theories concerning the nature of space-time and black holes.

Articles about classical physics

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The Theory of Gravity describes one of the most famous laws of physics, but surprisingly there are still many Things We Don't Know.
Delve deeper into gravity

The ultimate fuel of science fiction, antimatter annihilates normal matter on contact and releases immense amounts of energy in the process, making it a somewhat tricky substance to study in a lab.
Delve deeper into antimatter

Thermodynamics is very successful at describing the way energy interacts with itself and matter – but every now and then a paradox will pop up, or someone will spot an event which no one has an explanation for yet.
Delve deeper into thermodynamics

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