Physical science, is the systematic study of the inorganic world, as distinct from the study of the organic world, which is the province of biological science. Physical science is ordinarily thought of as consisting of four broad areas: astronomy, physics, chemistry, and the Earth sciences. Each of these is in turn divided into fields and subfields. This article discusses the historical development—with due attention to the scope, principal concerns, and methods—of the first three of these areas. The Earth sciences are discussed in a separate article.
Physics, in its modern sense, was founded in the mid-19th century as a synthesis of several older sciences—namely, those of mechanics, optics, acoustics, electricity, magnetism, heat, and the physical properties of matter. The synthesis was based in large part on the recognition that the different forces of nature are related and are, in fact, interconvertible because they are forms of energy.
The boundary between physics and chemistry is somewhat arbitrary. As it developed in the 20th century, physics is concerned with the structure and behaviour of individual atoms and their components, while chemistry deals with the properties and reactions of molecules. These latter depend on energy, especially heat, as well as on atoms; hence, there is a strong link between physics and chemistry. Chemists tend to be more interested in the specific properties of different elements and compounds, whereas physicists are concerned with general properties shared by all matter.
|Ugochukwu Eugene E.