Why Physics?

To Satisfy Curiosity: Humans are naturally curious. Curiosity is an advantageous trait because it stimulates development of an understanding of our world. This understanding has three important consequences: (1) it produces intellectual models of how the universe works, economizing what we need to know to act wisely under diverse conditions; (2) it fosters technology which can make the activity of life more effective; and (3) it forms a basis of further thinking.

To Express Creativity: Physics can be fun! We play with ideas. We love to know things. This pleasure is one of the rewards which drives curiosity and stimulates intellectual development. Solving physics problems is akin to solving puzzles. Even if we know they have been solved before, we are rewarded with the pleasure of self-accomplishment when we do them ourselves. In turn, self-accomplishment develops skill and confidence. If a puzzle has not been solved before, and we know it to be of great importance, the pleasure is particularly acute. We then know we have measurably contributed to the development of human thought or instrument.

To Prepare for Graduate School: The study of physics aims to deepen our understanding of the fundamental relationship between all events in this universe. As such, physics branches out to all the sciences. The principles that apply to complex systems in chemistry, geology, and biology have their roots in the more fundamental laws discovered in physics. Studying physics helps one to see the support for all the other sciences and medicine. Graduate schools in the medicine, law, and engineering, as well as the sciences, respect the proven abilities and potential of physics majors.

To Work toward Employment: Because physics uses mathematical logic, deductive reasoning, developed intuition, careful observation, designed experimentation, model building, and intellectual extrapolation, those practiced in the art are capable of solving a wide range of well-posed problems and often become quite inventive. Employers, both in technology fields and in strict business and finance, recognize this strength.

To Gain Knowledge to Share: To preserve and expand our understanding of the universe, there is a continuing need to transfer knowledge to the next generation, whether it be your own children, or, as a teacher, other young minds. There is no more worthy occupation than to gain and then share your knowledge, wisdom, and understanding with those who will follow.

To Become an Informed Citizen: No matter what plans you have in life, by studying physics, you will be offered the tools to evaluate the merits of worldly proposals, whether it be the siting of a nuclear power plant or a claim for an antigravity machine. These tools are essential in a democracy.

Looking to Enchance Your Freshman Experience?

Dean’s Seminars are small, seminar-style courses providing first-year Columbian College students with a focused intellectual challenge as they explore significant academic issues under the guidance of full-time faculty members. Students engage in directed critical inquiry while exploring the unique resources of the nation’s capital and the University. They not only learn to evaluate the scholarship and traditions that have formed our world view, but also create their own scholarship of consequence.

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