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A stylized depiction of a Lithium atom.

Physics (from Greek φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), i.e. "knowledge of nature", from φύσις, physis "nature"), is the natural science that involves the study of matter (anything that has mass and occupies space) and its motion (movement from place to another) through space and time, light and its propagation, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, perhaps the oldest through its inclusion of astronomy. Evidence exists that the earliest civilizations dating back to beyond 3000 BCE, such as the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, and the Indus Valley Civilization, all had a predictive knowledge and a very basic understanding of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars. Although originally part of other physical sciences and mathematics, Physics emerged to become a unique modern science during the Scientific Revolution of the 16th century.

Physics is both significant and influential, in part because advances in its understanding have often translated into new technologies, but also because new ideas in physics often resonate with other sciences, mathematics, and philosophy. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism or nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products which have dramatically transformed modern-day society (e.g., television, computers, domestic appliances, atomic power, and nuclear weapons); advances in thermodynamics led to the development of motorized transport and advances in aviation engineering; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.

Physics also has philosophical implications. It can be historically traced back to ancient Greek philosophy. From Thales' first attempt to characterize matter, to Democritus' deduction that matter ought to reduce to an invariant state, the Ptolemaic astronomy of a crystalline firmament, and Aristotle's book Physics, different Greek philosophers advanced their own theories of nature. Well into the 18th century, physics was known as "Natural philosophy". By the 19th century physics was realized as a positive science and a distinct discipline separate from philosophy and the other sciences. Physics, as with the rest of science, relies on philosophy of science to give an adequate description of the scientific method.

Selected article

Below are links to pages that are rated "Good Article" within WikiProject Physics from letters "A" through "L". The small good article icon (Good article), which can be found on the top right corner of a rated Wikipedia page, symbolizes content held to a high standard on Wikipedia, although these have not reached Featured Article status.

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The Arc lamp

An arc lamp or arc light is a lamp that produces light by an electric arc (also called a voltaic arc). The carbon arc light, which consists of an arc between carbon electrodes in air, invented by Humphry Davy in the early 1800s, was the first practical electric light. It was widely used starting in the 1870s for street and large building lighting until it was superseded by the incandescent light in the early 20th century. It continued in use in more specialized applications where a high intensity point light source was needed, such as searchlights and movie projectors until after World War II.

The 15 kW xenon short-arc lamp used in the IMAX projection system.
A mercury arc lamp from a fluorescence microscope.
A krypton long arc lamp (top) is shown above a xenon flashtube. The two lamps, used for laser pumping, are very different in the shape of the electrodes, in particular, the cathode, (on the left).
A krypton arc lamp during operation.
An electric arc, demonstrating the “arch” effect.

Did you know...

  • ...that if the galaxy Andromeda were bright enough to be fully visible to the naked eye it would appear six times as wide as our moon?
Mock mirage of the setting sun
  • ...that your watch would run slower when orbiting a black hole than it would on Earth?
  • ...that Aristotle's ideas of physics held that because an object could not move without an immediate source of energy, arrows created a vacuum behind them that pushed them through the air.
  • ...that nuclear fusion reactions are probably occurring at or above the sun's photosphere; it is a process called solar surface fusion.
Artist's depiction of the WMAP satellite measuring the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation to help scientists understand the Big Bang
  • ...that neutron stars are so dense that a teaspoonful (5 mL) would have ten times the mass of all human world population?
  • ...that every year, the Moon moves 3.82 cm away from Earth?
  • ...that Neptune was discovered by its gravitational pull on Uranus?
  • ..... a touch flash releases about a billion photons a second far less produced in a particle accelerator ?
  • ..... that homing pigeons can't navigate on Mercury because Mercury has no magnetic field or atmosphere?

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Things you can do


Whether you are an expert or a novice, be bold, improve an article by editing it. Practice in the sandbox if you must. But hurry back to fix that glaring error that has been bothering you.

Check list for physics novices and experts new to wikipedia

Whether you are an expert or a novice, be bold, improve an article by editing it. Practice in the sandbox if you must. But hurry back to fix that glaring error that has been bothering you.

Activities for physics novices and experts familiar with wikipedia

  • Edit a physics article
  • Add your name to the WikiProject Physics members list
  • Revert Vandalism
  • Add or improve diagrams and figures
  • Assign importance and quality to unassessed articles (See Physics quality control)
  • Review article for techno babble and suggest areas that need improving on talk page (or add clean up tag.)
  • Review, nominate, or submit a physics education article in Wikiversity:Second Journal of Science
  • Fix a page needing attention

Related portals

Portal:Astronomy Portal:Electromagnetism Portal:Cosmology Portal:Gravitation
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