Start the Countdown Whether we're launching a space shuttle or trying to discover another Earth-like planet, we rely on scientific laws and theories to guide us.
This is not necessarily the case of course, but that is what every professor in every subject assumes!
If you are going to be a physicist, you will have a lot to study: So much knowledge, in fact, that you might think that you cannot learn all of it in four years, and truly you cannot; you will have to go to graduate school too!
Surprisingly enough, in spite of the tremendous amount of work that has been done for all this time it is possible to condense the enormous mass of results to a large extent—that is, to find laws which summarize all our knowledge.
Even so, the laws are so hard to grasp that it is unfair to you to start exploring this tremendous subject without some kind of map or outline of the relationship of one part of the subject of science to another.
You might ask why we cannot teach physics by just giving the basic laws on page one and then showing how they work in all possible circumstances, as we do in Euclidean geometry, where we state the axioms and then make all sorts of deductions.
So, not satisfied to learn physics in four years, you want to learn it in four minutes? We cannot do it in this way for two reasons. First, we do not yet know all the basic laws: Second, the correct statement of the laws of physics involves some very unfamiliar ideas which require advanced mathematics for their description.
Therefore, one needs a considerable amount of preparatory training even to learn what the words mean. No, it is not possible to do it that way. We can only do it piece by piece.
Each piece, or part, of the whole of nature is always merely an approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected.
The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Where do the laws that are to be tested come from? Experiment, itself, helps to produce these laws, in the sense that it gives us hints. But also needed is imagination to create from these hints the great generalizations—to guess at the wonderful, simple, but very strange patterns beneath them all, and then to experiment to check again whether we have made the right guess.
This imagining process is so difficult that there is a division of labor in physics: We said that the laws of nature are approximate: First, in a trivial way: But these things are easily fixed, and checked back and forth. So without snatching at such minor things, how can the results of an experiment be wrong?
Only by being inaccurate. For example, the mass of an object never seems to change: Mass is found to increase with velocity, but appreciable increases require velocities near that of light.
A true law is: In some such approximate form this is a correct law.Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products.
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