What is Physics and How Can Physicists Save the World?
Historically, physics has developed through observation of natural phenomena and derivation of laws which describe these phenomena. Naturally, the profound understanding of the world we live in helps us to survive in it.
Physicists had to always stay alert to see something happening in nature and to record it so they can describe it later. The alertness to changes and the passion to discover new phenomena are the fundamental characteristics which make a great physicist. Individuals of this kind possess all capabilities required to understand the tricky make-up of the world. If they manage to transfer the skills they obtain into the wider social arena, they become true visionaries and triggers of social change.
Nikola Tesla was among such visionaries. His contribution to humankind is immense, and it did a great deal to advance the progress in several areas of the society. Many modern power systems utilize the principles Tesla laid out in his scientific works. These changes help us evolve and they help us survive. Physicists are the drivers of such changes, and they inspire many others, and you can become one of them.
How can physicists change the world?
So how can physicists really change the world? The world is a complex system, full of limits and constraints on what one can do. Physics is full of problems with closed systems, which have no or limited interaction with other systems. Operating within the limits of a system (or a model of a system) or pushing the limits of a system, is a physicist’s daily job.
The optimization of outcomes is a problem more focused on by applied physicists or engineers, but the theoretical framework for the analysis always comes from the fundamental laws of physics. The knowledge of those fundamental laws allows physicists to exercise great control over the creation of new materials and devices which directly affect human life, pushing the boundaries of what we can do.
For example, many believed that the sky is the limit, but Sergey Korolev proved them wrong, by making space flight possible. He created generations of scientists who were motivated by travels to distant planets. The ultimate dream of a physicist is to achieve exactly this – to push the boundaries of what is possible, and motivate others to do the same.
What is the future of physics?
What next – what is in store for the future of physics? Multi-disciplinary research is believed to be the way to move forward. Physics itself is already a multidisciplinary science. If you doubt this, just consider for a moment biophysics, chemical physics and mathematical physics.
Henceforth, physicists can approach various problems from multiple directions. It’s amazing what you can do, just using some high school physics knowledge, the internet and a few gadgets. If you add in access to a Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory), you can suggest a solution and even create a physical prototype.
Thinking outside the box is what physicists excel at, especially when they face real-world problems. Most of the people who solve the Schrödinger equation discard solutions which hint at any deviations from conventional understanding of matter, but back in 1928 Paul Dirac, thinking outside the box, predicted the existence of antielectrons. These were later discovered as particles and became known as positrons.
You might wonder: if physicists are so cool, why is our world still in so much trouble? The answer is simple. The world is ruled by politicians who are not that good at physics. What can you do about it? Those who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world, will!”