It is the common opinion of many people that Physics, and
the study and appreciation of Physics, is something that’s
purely for the scholarly and the learned. But, when you
pause for a minute and think, there is no way you can miss
its mainstream role in our lives today. By this, please
do not think of the practical implications of Physics –
like how semi-conductors work for us inside our TVs, how
the famous Carnot cycle of heat sources and sinks is used
in our refrigerators or, perhaps how Bernoulli’ principle
of viscous drag is used in the designing of our aircrafts.
There is another equally important way in which Physics
impacts our lives: this facet deals with the close agreement
the laws of Physics have with those of everyday life and
how it helps us understand the purpose of our lives better.
You would be surprised to find how some universal laws of
Physics are actually mirrors of our day-to-day experiences.Seven
years later Shakespeare is recognized as an actor, poet
and playwright, when a rival playwright, Robert Greene,
refers to him as "an upstart crow" in A Groatsworth
of Wit. A few years later he joined up with one of the most
successful acting troupe's in London: The Lord Chamberlain's
Men. When, in 1599, the troupe lost the lease of the theatre
where they performed, (appropriately called The Theatre)
they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across
the Thames, south of London, which they called "The
Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599.
are lots of theories in Physics which bear a strong connection
with our commonly-held, “matter-of-fact” opinions
in life. Just look at Newton’s 3rs law of motion,
which says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
The real- life equivalent of this theory can be easily understood:
just punch a person walking on the street and look for his
reaction! Sticking with the same subject, take a look at
Newton’s 1st law, which is about inertia. Inertia
is a universal property of all bodies by which their current
state of rest ( or motion ) is opposed their surroundings.
Speak about this law to a person starting a new project
or a new business and he would readily believe agree with
it. Or, better still, try working on some mathematics yourself;
the first few problems would really rack your brains out
but as you continue, you would feel more and more comfortable
with it. It’s the same everywhere: it’s always
easy to keep something going as opposed to getting it started.
Conversely, it is equally difficult to stop something that
is already in action. This is the basis of the law of inertia,
in Physics as in real life.
Let’s now hop on to another important principle.
This is Bohr’s Correspondence Principle. According
to this principle, any new theory or law does not disprove
or eliminate the corresponding previous theory. It only
makes the understanding of the old theory more complete.
To take an example from Physics itself, we say that the
new theory of quantum mechanics did not disprove old Newtonian
theories about motion and force; it merely made Newtonian
mechanics a part of itself. Guess what is the real-life
equivalent of this principle. It is the way in which society
and social customs evolve in our lives. New social customs
or practices don’t actually negate old ones. They
only make the old customs more meaningful. Let’s look
at the popular view of marriages. Decades back, there was
only one way to get married and that was to have it arranged.
Then came “love-marriages.” However, the latter
has not eliminated arranged marriages. They have only given
a better choice to people. We now live in an age where both
ways of getting married peacefully co-exist and that’s
exactly what Bohr’s principle has to say about the
new and the old.
you think this has probably gone too far, take one last
look at another of such comparisons. Enter the famous Uncertainty
Principle of Werner Heisenberg. This principle says that
the degree of certainty or accuracy of the knowledge you
can have about things is finite and cannot be 100% percent.
This means that no one can have absolute knowledge about
anything. Technically speaking, what it actually means is
the very method by which we try to observe or measure a
system under study radically alters the system. It thereby
makes it impossible to know exactly how the system was before
we interfered with it. This principle is also easily understood
in the context of our day-to-day lives because the amount
of uncertainty associated with our lives is enormous. How
much certain are we about our ability to predict the future?
Are we absolutely confident about how things would turn
up every time? The answers to these questions are certainly
(!) no. It is possible to guess about how things may take
shape but impossible to be absolutely sure of them. This
is the crux of the uncertainty principle and no doubt it
is a clear reflection of real life.
at the end of the day, if someone were to say that Physics
was something far removed from everyday life, you’d
be right in saying that he is far from the truth!