<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The models, theories, and laws we devise sometimes imply the existence of objects or phenomena that are as yet unobserved. These predictions are remarkable triumphs and tributes to the power of science. It is the underlying order in the universe that enables scientists to make such spectacular predictions. However, if experimentation does not verify our predictions, then the theory or law is wrong, no matter how elegant or convenient it is. Laws can never be known with absolute certainty because it is impossible to perform every imaginable experiment to confirm a law for every possible scenario. Physicists operate under the assumption that all scientific laws and theories are valid until a counterexample is observed. If a good-quality, verifiable experiment contradicts a well-established law or theory, then the law or theory must be modified or overthrown completely.

The study of science in general, and physics in particular, is an adventure much like the exploration of an uncharted ocean. Discoveries are made; models, theories, and laws are formulated; and the beauty of the physical universe is made more sublime for the insights gained.

Summary

  • Physics is about trying to find the simple laws that describe all natural phenomena.
  • Physics operates on a vast range of scales of length, mass, and time. Scientists use the concept of the order of magnitude of a number to track which phenomena occur on which scales. They also use orders of magnitude to compare the various scales.
  • Scientists attempt to describe the world by formulating models, theories, and laws.

Conceptual questions

What is physics?

Physics is the science concerned with describing the interactions of energy, matter, space, and time to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that underlie every phenomenon.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Some have described physics as a “search for simplicity.” Explain why this might be an appropriate description.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

If two different theories describe experimental observations equally well, can one be said to be more valid than the other (assuming both use accepted rules of logic)?

No, neither of these two theories is more valid than the other. Experimentation is the ultimate decider. If experimental evidence does not suggest one theory over the other, then both are equally valid. A given physicist might prefer one theory over another on the grounds that one seems more simple, more natural, or more beautiful than the other, but that physicist would quickly acknowledge that he or she cannot say the other theory is invalid. Rather, he or she would be honest about the fact that more experimental evidence is needed to determine which theory is a better description of nature.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

What determines the validity of a theory?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Certain criteria must be satisfied if a measurement or observation is to be believed. Will the criteria necessarily be as strict for an expected result as for an unexpected result?

Probably not. As the saying goes, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Can the validity of a model be limited or must it be universally valid? How does this compare with the required validity of a theory or a law?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Problems

Find the order of magnitude of the following physical quantities. (a) The mass of Earth’s atmosphere: 5.1 × 10 18 kg; (b) The mass of the Moon’s atmosphere: 25,000 kg; (c) The mass of Earth’s hydrosphere: 1.4 × 10 21 kg; (d) The mass of Earth: 5.97 × 10 24 kg; (e) The mass of the Moon: 7.34 × 10 22 kg; (f) The Earth–Moon distance (semimajor axis): 3.84 × 10 8 m; (g) The mean Earth–Sun distance: 1.5 × 10 11 m; (h) The equatorial radius of Earth: 6.38 × 10 6 m; (i) The mass of an electron: 9.11 × 10 −31 kg; (j) The mass of a proton: 1.67 × 10 −27 kg; (k) The mass of the Sun: 1.99 × 10 30 kg.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Use the orders of magnitude you found in the previous problem to answer the following questions to within an order of magnitude. (a) How many electrons would it take to equal the mass of a proton? (b) How many Earths would it take to equal the mass of the Sun? (c) How many Earth–Moon distances would it take to cover the distance from Earth to the Sun? (d) How many Moon atmospheres would it take to equal the mass of Earth’s atmosphere? (e) How many moons would it take to equal the mass of Earth? (f) How many protons would it take to equal the mass of the Sun?

a. 10 3 ; b. 10 5 ; c. 10 2 ; d. 10 15 ; e. 10 2 ; f. 10 57

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

For the remaining questions, you need to use [link] to obtain the necessary orders of magnitude of lengths, masses, and times.

Roughly how many heartbeats are there in a lifetime?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A generation is about one-third of a lifetime. Approximately how many generations have passed since the year 0 AD?

10 2 generations

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Roughly how many times longer than the mean life of an extremely unstable atomic nucleus is the lifetime of a human?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Calculate the approximate number of atoms in a bacterium. Assume the average mass of an atom in the bacterium is 10 times the mass of a proton.

10 11 atoms

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

(a) Calculate the number of cells in a hummingbird assuming the mass of an average cell is 10 times the mass of a bacterium. (b) Making the same assumption, how many cells are there in a human?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Assuming one nerve impulse must end before another can begin, what is the maximum firing rate of a nerve in impulses per second?

10 3 nerve impulses/s

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

About how many floating-point operations can a supercomputer perform each year?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Roughly how many floating-point operations can a supercomputer perform in a human lifetime?

10 26 floating-point operations per human lifetime

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

how can I convert mile to meter per hour
Folorunsho Reply
1 mile * 1609m
Boon
hey can someone show me how to solve the - "Hanging from the ceiling over a baby bed ...." question
Shrushti Reply
i wanted to know the steps
Shrushti
sorry shrushti..
Rashid
which question please write it briefly
Asutosh
Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest volcano in the solar system, at a height of 25 km and with a radius of 312 km. If you are standing on the summit, with what initial velocity would you have to fire a projectile from a cannon horizontally to clear the volcano and land on the surface of Mars? Note that Mars has an acceleration of gravity of 3.7 m/s2 .
Eloisa Reply
what is summit
Asutosh
highest point on earth
Ngeh
पृथवी को इसके अक्ष पर कितने कोणीय चाल से घूमाऐ कि भूमधय पे आदमी का भार इसके वासतविक भार से 3/5अधिक हो
Vasudev Reply
best
Murari
At a post office, a parcel that is a 20.0-kg box slides down a ramp inclined at 30.0° 30.0° with the horizontal. The coefficient of kinetic friction between the box and plane is 0.0300. (a) Find the acceleration of the box. (b) Find the velocity of the box as it reaches the end of the plane, if the length of the plane is 2 m and the box starts at rest.
Kaitlin Reply
As an IT student must I take physics seriously?
Akaare Reply
yh
Bernice
hii
Raja
IT came from physics and maths so I don't see why you wouldn't
Brad
conditions for pure rolling
Md
the time period of jupiter is 11.6 yrs. how far is jupiter from the sun. distance of earth from rhe sun is 1.5*10 to the power 11 meter.
Abu Reply
lists 5 drawing instruments and their uses
Micahlolo Reply
that is a question you can find on Google, anyway of top of my head, compass, ruler, protractor, try square, triangles.
Rongfang
A force F is needed to break a copper wire having radius R. The force needed to break a copper wire of radius 2R will be
Lalit Reply
2F
Jacob
it will be doubled
kelvin
double
Devesh
The difference between vector and scaler quantity
Yakubu Reply
vector has both magnitude & direction but scalar has only magnitude
Manash
my marunong ba dto mag prove ng geometry
ron
how do I find resultant of four forces at a point
Inusah
use the socatoa rule
kingsley
draw force diagram, then work out the direction of force.
Rongfang
In a closed system of forces... Summation of forces in any direction or plane is zero... Resolve if there is a need to then add forces in a particular plane or direction.. Say the x direction... Equate it tk zero
Jacob
define moment of inertia
Manoj Reply
it is the tendency for a body to continue in motion if is or continue to be at rest if it is.
prince
what is Euler s theorem
Manoj Reply
what is thermocouple?
Manoj Reply
joining of two wire of different material forming two junctions. If one is hot and another is cold the it will produce emf...
Badri
joining of two metal of different materials to form a junction in one is hot & another is cold
Manash
define dimensional analysis
Dennis Reply
mathematical derivation?
Hira
explain what Newtonian mechanics is.
Elizabeth Reply
a system of mechanics based of Newton laws motion this is easy difenation of mean...
Arzoodan
what is the meaning of single term,mechanics?
jyotirmayee
mechanics is the science related to the behavior of physical bodies when some external force is applied to them
Lalita
SO ASK What is Newtonian mechanics in physics? Newtonian physics, also calledNewtonian or classical mechanics, is the description of mechanical events—those that involve forces acting on matter—using the laws of motion and gravitation formulated in the late seventeenth century by English physicist
Suleiman
can any one send me the best reference book for physics?
Prema
concept of physics by HC verma, Fundamentals of Physics, university of physics
Bhaskar
tq u.
Prema
these are the best physics books one can fond both theory and applications.
Bhaskar
can any one suggest best book for maths with lot of Tricks?
Vivek
what is the water height in barometer?
SUNEELL
13.5*76 cm. because Mercury is 13.5 times dense than Mercury
LOVE
water is 13.5 times dense than the Mercury
LOVE
plz tell me frnds the best reference book for physics along with the names of authors.
Prema
i recomended the reference book for physics from library University of Dublin or library Trinity college
Arzoodan
A little help here... . 1. Newton's laws of Motion, are they applicable to motions of all speeds? 2.state the speeds which are applicable to Newtons laws of Motion
Derek
mechanics which follows Newtons law
Manash
The definition of axial and polar vector .
Arpita
polar vector which have a starting point or pt. of applications is,force,displacement
jyotirmayee
axial vector represent rotational effect and act along the axis of rotation b
jyotirmayee
prove Newton's first law of motion
prince
Hello frnds what is physics in general?
Ngeh
A block of mass m is attached to a spring with spring constant k and free to slide along a horizontal frictionless surface. At t=0, the block spring system is stretched on amount x>0 from the equilibrium position and is released from rest Vx = 0 What is the period of oscillation of the block? What
Ella
What is the velocity of the block when it first comes back to the equilibrium position?
Ella
Practice Key Terms 5

Get the best University physics vol... course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'University physics volume 1' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask