Branches of Physics (Explained For You)


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Physics is a wide-ranging field of study. Many of the sciences incorporate findings or aspects of physics into their discipline. Likewise, many of the world’s greatest discoveries about our universe come from physics. The people who study physics might all be in one umbrella field. Physicists study a variety of different areas of focus. Many find themselves drawn to one specific type of physics. Under the numerous branches of physics, you’ll find a wide ranging field of knowledge. If you want to know the field entirely, then you are in the right place.

Physics is a complicated field of study. Numerous branches lead researchers on different paths of the field. In order to best focus on the numerous branches, let’s review all the major areas of physics. Before we begin, let’s make sure we review what the overarching theme is. Physics deal with our relation to time and space. For many years, physics was just considered astronomy. Now, we have world class fields that simply deal with physics and its attributes. Laws of physics dictate everything around us. We all operate under a set of rules the universe sets for us. The different branches of physics make it so we have various ways of dealing with these laws.

How to Study the Different Branches of Physics

There are a lot of areas in physics. It might be hard at first deciding which one to pursue. Luckily, some fields don’t make you pick just one. Many branches deal with the information and science behind other branches. Therefore, college programs specialize in one single branch. Physicians often find their passion in physics during college. If you are simply curious, the best place to start is to look at the differences between the branches. This is a great place to start.

Below, we’ll break down the different areas of physics one could study. Then, you’ll see a brief description of what makes these different and unique. From here, you can decide if you want to study one area further. Or, maybe you can continue to just follow general physics. Either way, knowing physics unlocks a lot of things for our world. Knowing physics keeps the big questions about our lives and the universe relevant. One thing is for sure: physics is never boring.


Acoustics are a branch of physics involving the study of mechanical waves in the matter: liquids, gases, and solids. This also includes the study of topics ranging from infrasound, ultrasound, sound, and vibration. The field started as the study of mechanical vibrations. Now, the study is how science deals with the transmission, control, and reception of sounds.

Applied Physics

This is the application of the science of physics in assisting human being and eliminating their problems. Firstly, it differs greatly from engineering. Furthermore, the field does not deal with well-defined problems. For instance, applied physics and its research creates new technologies and solve engineering problems. In conclusion, the field connects engineering and physics.


Astrobiology refers to the interdisciplinary scientific field that covers the origins, early distribution, early evolution, and future of life in the galaxy. This field considers the possibility of extraterrestrial life in other planets, and the methods through which humans can detect extraterrestrial life. It is similar to exobiology in the definition. In other words, it is the search for living things in the universe.

Astronomy – Traditional Branches of Physics

The term defines a natural science that studies phenomena and celestial objects. It involves the application of physics, chemistry, and mathematics in an attempt to explain the origin and existence, evolution and phenomena of these objects. Celestial objects like galaxies, moons, comets, nebulae, asteroids and the processes such as gamma-ray bursts, cosmic background radiation, and supernovae explosions are extensively studied in astronomy.


Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that utilizes the principles of chemistry and physics to study the physical characteristics of stars and other celestial bodies. It showcases the application of theories and the laws of physics to the knowledge of astronomical observations. The field explains the life and death of planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies in the universe. It is related to both cosmology and astronomy.

Atomic Physics – Historically Significant Branches of Physics

Atomic physics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of atoms as part of a sole system of electrons including an atomic nucleus. It is basically concerned with the selection of electrons around the nucleus and the steps by which these arrangements occur. It focuses heavily on the characteristics of subatomic particles, the structure of the atom, its interaction with magnetic and electric fields, and its energy states.


Bioastronautics covers the behavioral, medical, and biological aspects governing humans and living organisms in a space flight model. It includes the designs of spacecraft habitats, payloads, and life support systems. Bioastronautics challenges GHE norm in integrative physiology and human protection. It integrates space research, medicine, engineering, and biology.


To begin, biophysics links biology and physics. The field applies the methods and theories of physics to study how biological systems work. Additionally, the field focuses on how cells function. Other areas of interest include how molecules of life are birthed, and how the body system works. Biophysics is a scientific field where other disciplines use their skills to develop new tools aimed at understanding how biology works.

Condensed Matter Physics

Firstly, condensed matter physics is the study of substances in their solid state. The broad scope of this term includes the investigation of the two crystalline solids in a state where the atoms are positioned on a three-dimensional lattice. It is the largest branch of physics and has the most significant impact on the day to day living by setting the foundation for technology development.

Cryogenics – Progressive Branches of Physics

Cryogenics involves the production and reaction of materials at very low temperatures. It is the science of synthetically manufacturing and studying low-temperature conditions. An individual that examines elements subjected to freezing temperatures is referred to as a cryogenicist. The word itself is culled from the Greek word “kryos” which means “cold,” and combined with an abbreviated form of the English verb “to generate.”


In layman terms, electromagnetism is the phenomenon of the relationship between electric fields or currents and magnetic fields. It is the branch of physics that explores electromagnetic force as it happens between electrically charged entities. As one of the fundamental interactions, along with weak communication, strong interaction, and gravitation, it studies how magnetic and electric field move simultaneously through space.

Elementary Particle Physics

In the study of particle physics, fundamental particles or an elementary particle is a subatomic element with zero substructure, which means it is not composed of other particles. Quantum theory suggests that elementary particles are discovered in protons and neutrons in the form of -up and down quarks. Elementary particles physics studies the primary constituents of matter and the interaction between these entities.

Engineering physics is an interdisciplinary study that covers engineering, mathematics, and physics. Also known as engineering science, it focuses mainly on nuclear, electronic, computer, electrical, mechanical, and material engineering. It emphasizes the application of primary scientific principles to the building of equipment, which includes electro-mechanical and electronic systems, for use in communications, measurements, and data acquisition.

Experimental Physics

Experimental physics is the branch of sub-disciplines in the field of physics that focuses on the conservation of physical experiments and phenomena. This course teaches students about the primary scientific theories that analyze the world around us. As opposed to what the term suggests, it does not involve the observation of nature, like most natural sciences. Instead, it deploys synthetic experiments which are carried out for a singular purpose.

Fluid Dynamics

Fluid dynamics is the branch of fluid mechanics, under the umbrella of engineering and physics, that explores the flow of gases and liquids. It has several branches, including the study of liquids in motion (hydrodynamics), and the study of gases in motion (aerodynamics). It studies fluids and the forces that affect them.

General Physics – Basic Branches of Physics

General physics as a course is an engineering major that covers all the theories of related foundations of physics. Students studying this course are taught the basics in other majors in the department, as well as theoretical subjects, like Cosmology and Astronomy. It provides students with the knowledge of theoretical physics and gives them a starting step in the world of research.

Mathematical Physics

Mathematical physics is the development of mathematical methods for solving various problems in physics. Additionally, it is the development of mathematical methods for the formulation of physics theories and the application of mathematics to problems in physics. Both math and physics are alike. For instance, physics and mathematics work within one another. Gauss and Newton are almost impossible to classify as pure mathematicians or physicists.


Mechanics is an area of science that is solely concerned with the behavior of objects when subjected to displacements or forces and the relative effects of these bodies on their environment. This branch is a form of science that deals with the motion of bodies under the action of forces which bodies exert on each other. It leads to the study of topics like electricity, magnetism, and gravitation.

Medical Physics

Medical physics is a sub-field of physics that deals with the application of physics theories, methods, and concepts in fields of healthcare or medicine. They are heavily involved with the responsibilities in areas of treatment and diagnosis. If you study medical physics , then you might also hear the study be called medical biophysics, hospitals radio-physics, physics applications in medical science, or biomedical physics.

Molecular Physics

Molecular physics is a discipline of physics that studies the chemical bonds between atoms, the molecular dynamics, and also the physical properties of molecules. This branch is related to atomic physics, and it also overlaps significantly with chemical physics, theoretical physics, and theoretical chemistry. If you study molecular physics, then you will have in-depth knowledge about molecular scattering and spectroscopy.

Newtonian Dynamics

Newtonian dynamics defines the dynamics of a small body or particle according to Newton’s Laws of motion. It occurs in a three-dimensional Euclidean space that is very flat. The Newtonian dynamics’ purpose is to predict the motion of different objects which is encountered all around the world. The theory also helps to break down velocities of objects under investigation.

Nuclear Physics – Futuristic Branches of Physics

Nuclear physics is a branch of physics that explains atomic nuclei with their interactions and constituents. This branch accurately describes how the sun provides the energy we need for life on earth, how every atom in the body was created, and the process by which stars die. Nuclear physics also entails various models related to the nucleus and their developments by different scientists, their theories, experiments, etc.


Optics is a discipline of physics that studies the properties and behavior of light, and these include the construction of materials that detect or use it and its interactions with matter. This branch usually helps to describe the behavior of ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light. Optics also study some phenomenon like polarization, diffraction, and many other phenomena where geometry is invalid. If you enjoy light as a concept, then studying optics is a great field.

Physical Cosmology

Physical cosmology is a branch of astrophysics that studies the large-scale structure of the universe and attempts to answer its fundamental questions like its evolution and formation. It embroils itself with the study of the movement of celestial bodies. Physical cosmology is the study of dynamics of the universe and large-scale structures. This helps to answer fundamental questions like its structure, origin, evolution, and more.

Planetary Science – Branches of Physics That Deal with Space

Planetary science, also known as planetology is the scientific study of the planetary systems (emphasizing on the solar system), moons, and earth, and the ways to make them. It is an interdisciplinary field that originates from earth sciences and astronomy, but it now incorporates other disciplines like oceanology, theoretical planetary science, exoplanetology, glaciology, hydrology, atmospheric science, and cosmochemistry. If you enjoy space, then studying planetary science is the right branch for you.

Plasma Physics

Plasma physics is a field in physics that encompasses the study of fluids interacting with consistent magnetic and electric fields and charged particles. It is a research discipline with varieties of the area of specialization such as controlled fusion, accelerator physics, beam storage, and space and astrophysics. Harmonic generation can be explored in solids, plasmas, and gases with medium intensity lasers. In conclusion, plasma physics is a futuristic branch of the field.

Quantum Physics – Growing Branches of Physics

Quantum Physics, often referred to as quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that explains the behavior of matter and their relationship with energy on a subatomic and atomic level. This branch is a body of scientific laws of the small. It explains the unusual behavior of electrons, photons and all the other particles that make up the universe. It is one of the two main planks of physics, with general relativity and the universe.

Solid Mechanics

Solid mechanics is a branch of mathematics and physics that studies the behavior of solid matter with external actions. This branch had now advanced because of their participation throughout histories such as railways, automobiles, petroleum refineries, buildings, computers, medical implants, and composite materials. It can also be defined as a branch of continuum mechanics that explores the behavior of solids, especially their deformation and motion under external force. In conclusion, solid mechanics builds some of the world’s best machines and innovations.

Solid State Physics – Digital Branches of Physics

Solid state physics is a branch of physics that studies solids and how the properties of solid materials come from their atomic-scale properties and their direct application in the technology of semiconductors and transistors. Professionals in this branch study solids through crystallography, electromagnetism, metallurgy, and quantum mechanics. It is one of the largest branches of physics.

Statistical Mechanics

Statistical mechanics is an important branch of modern physics that deals with the application of probability theory, which is concerned with the motion of object or particles when subjected to a force. This field also includes the use of mathematical tools that deal with large populations. It can also be defined as a branch of physics that entails both quantum and classical mechanics with the laws of procedures of physics.

Stellar Astrophysics

Stellar Astrophysics is the study of stars through observational astronomy and means of theoretical physics. Astrophysicists help to treat astrophysical problems with elaborate computing problems and numerical programs. Astronomy became a field of physics by explaining evolution and stellar structure through laws of physics. Stellar Astrophysics works with areas of physics like fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, nuclear and atomic physics, and particle physics.

Theoretical Physics – Advanced Branches of Physics

Theoretical physics is the discipline that develops computational protocols and mathematical formalisms to describe all aspects of objects found around the world. They employ abstractions of physical objects and mathematical models to predict, rationalize, and explain natural phenomena. This is different from the experimental physics that uses innovative tools to explain these phenomena.


Thermodynamics is a discipline of physics that entails the effect of temperature and heat concerning work and energy. It applies to a variety of topics in engineering and science, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and especially physical chemistry. It also deals with the relationships between different forms of energy and heat. In short, it describes how heat energy is converted to other forms, and it affects matter. If you enjoy mechanical processes, then thermodynamics is right for you.


What did we learn? Firstly, we know there are a ton of differences in the various branches of physics. From general studies to nuclear energy, the possibilities are endless in this field. Physics matters to our world today, whether popular culture knows it or not. Many just know physics from what they’ve seen on The Big Bang Theory. Sure, it’s fun to see physics in popular media. But jokes in that show are just the beginning. The whole world revolves around physics, and hopefully you know more now about this vast field. If you want to know more, then feel free to explore the Dave4Math site! Additionally, Dave4Math courses on various subjects are available for you to browse.

dave at dave4math

David Smith (Dave) has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics and has enjoyed teaching precalculus, calculus, linear algebra, and number theory at both the junior college and university levels for over 20 years. David is the founder and CEO of Dave4Math.