As a subject matter, the physical sciences integrate all previous learning with our life experiences in the world. What makes the physical sciences distinct, however, is that they take each experience, examine their core components, and, from those, make some assumptions about our world. The physical sciences, as a general statement, require that students be reflective about their experiences and have a strong background in mathematics.
Physics, arguably, is the oldest “science” known to man. It began, originally, with the ancient Greeks, and Aristotle was the first to be recognized as a teacher of physics in Ancient Greece. However, it was Galileo (considered by many to be the father of modern physics) who began to try to understand the world around him by making some assumptions, and by reducing his experiments to controllable factors. It was here, during the scientific revolution from 1550 to 1700, that modern physics began to be developed and the world began to change.
It was not that much later (around 1680), that Newton began to publish his works on mathematics and physics. After this time, other physicists began to try to understand the phenomena like fluids (Bernoulli), others began to investigate electricty (Faraday and Ohm), and others even began to investigate the cosmos (Copernicus). From the beginning, physics has always been a creative endeavor, and it “stands on the shoulders of giants” by using the difficult work of others to help the knowledge of humans grow.
Much like chemists seek to understand the world, physics students will attempt to understand the world by investigating the concepts of Newtonian mechanics from gravitational motion to rotational motion, to more complicated real-world problems. “Modern” topics, like thermodynamics, cosmology, and nuclear physics will be introduced. Students will learn these concepts through both lecture and hands-on laboratory experiments.