Essay on A Century of Physics

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A Century of Physics

By the end of the nineteenth century after more than two thousand years of intellectual struggle that began with the Greek philosophers, physical scientists had reason to believe that they were beginning to understand the universe. Their theories of matter and energy, of electricity and magnetism, of heat and sound and light were confirmed in laboratories throughout the world with increasing precision. Experimentation was the method and mathematics the language of a powerful coherent body of knowledge called classical physics. For a few years before and after the turn of the century, the world was taking a breather from war and rebellion. The monumental achievements of science, technology, and industry
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The chance discovery of radioactivity finally signaled the beginning of a new era in physics. As the element polonium, identified by Polish-born Marie Curie in 1898, emits radiation it changes spontaneously into lead. This discovery shattered the belief inherited from the Greeks that the elements are immutable and their atoms indestructible.
What causes atoms to decay?
What are they made of?
What forces are at work inside them?
Such questions were new to physics, and were to remain at its cutting edge throughout the twentieth century. The answers would affect our lives in ways no one could imagine in the year of 1900.

The twentieth century began with a flurry of innovations such as the airplane, the mass-produced automobile, and transatlantic radio communication. They transformed the world, but the changes sweeping over physics at the same time were far more radical. Those brought about not just different lifestyles, but new ways of thinking. Modern physics grew out of classical physics and rest of three pillars: the quantum theory, which describes atoms and their nuclei, Special Relativity, which deals with the relationship between space and time and General Relativity, which explains gravity. The latter two were the sole creations of Albert Einstein and even the former received a crucial
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