Physical Sciences investigate physical and chemical phenomena. This is done through scientific inquiry, application of scientific models, theories and laws in order to explain and predict events in the physical environment. This subject also deals with society’s need to understand how the physical environment works in order to benefit from it and responsibly care for it. All scientific and technological knowledge, including Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), is used to address challenges facing society. Indigenous knowledge is knowledge that communities have held, used or are still using; this knowledge has been passed on through generations and has been a source of many innovations and developments including scientific developments (Department of Basic Education, 2011, p.8).
Physics is the truly universal science. It is the rational development of experiments, observations and theories to explain the fundamental structure of all we perceive. From the smallest subatomic particle to the entire Universe, Physics uncovers a picture of the world that is continually changing (University of Sydney 2013).
Physicists ask really big questions like:
- How did the universe begin?
- How will the universe change in the future?
- How does the Sun keep on shining?
- What are the basic building blocks of matter?
If you think these questions are fascinating, then you’ll like physics.
Chemistry is the study of the nature, properties, and composition of matter, and how these undergo changes. Chemistry is a way of studying matter. What is matter? As is true with many of those words which are really basic to science, matter is hard to define. It is often said that matter is anything which has mass and occupies space. But then what are “mass” and “space”? Although we can define these, the process yields very little insight into what matter is. So let us just say that matter is anything which has real physical existence; in a word matter is just stuff. Iron, air, wool, gold, milk, aspirin, monkeys, rubber, and pizza – these are all matter. Some things which are not matter are heat, cold, colours, dreams hopes, ideas, sunlight, beauty, fear, and x-rays. None of these is “stuff”; none is matter.
Chemistry plays an important part in all of the other natural sciences, basic and applied. Plant growth and metabolism, the formation of igneous rocks, the role played by ozone in the atmosphere, the degradation of environmental pollutants, the properties of lunar soil, the medical action of drugs, establishment of forensic evidence: none of these can be understood without the knowledge and perspective provided by chemistry. Indeed, many people study chemistry so that they can apply it to their own particular field of interest. Of course, chemistry itself is the field of interest for many people, too. Many study chemistry not to apply it to another field, but simply to learn more about the physical world and the behaviour of matter from a chemical viewpoint. Some simply like “what chemists do” and so decide to “do it” themselves. (Russell, 1980)
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