Life is Physics

“Life is Physics” is a saying in our house.  It comes from my science-based answers to everyday questions from my kids as they grew up,  Now days when I offer an explanation to something, often unsolicited by them, either they or my wife will respond with “Life is Physics”.

Physics is a subject that frightens most people.  Too often I hear that “Physics is hard!”.  In reality, most people have an innate understanding of basics physics from everyday observations.  Everything in our lives is controlled by the laws of physics.  When a basketball player makes a shot, he or she is using their subconscious understanding of Newton’s laws of motion to visualize the path of the ball from their hand to the basket.  They may not know the math that describes the parabolic path shaped by gravity and the force from their hand, but they know the application of the physics that determines if they score a goal.

During my first two years as a graduate student in physics at Duke University, I served as a teaching assistant (TA) to professors.  As the TA, I taught the recitation classes for the freshman courses.  Recitation were informal sessions where the basic elements of the lectures were reinforced and solutions to the assigned problems were walked through.  At the start of every semester, I would tell my class that physics is not as hard as you think.  Physics is hard only because you think it is hard before you try learning it.  As with anything, if you have a preconceived idea before you start something new, you will have a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you think it is hard, it will be hard.  If you have an open mind, you will be pleaseantly surprised.  I would also tell them that they probably think I am pretty smart because I am physics graduate student.  I would tell that, no, I was too dumb to realize physics was hard, so it was easy for me.  For those that took the same attitude, they would tell me at the end of the term that I was correct.

With “Life is Physics”, I hope to explore how physics shapes our everyday lives in both small and big ways.  I plan on looking at topics from a basketball shot to how quantum mechanics tells us about the nature of free will.  It is my goal to make anybody willing to read my posts have a better conscious understanding of the world around them that they already know subconsciously.  Life is Physics.

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