The Link Between Technology And Physics

Can new technology come into existence without physics?

applications of physics in technology

The knowledge of physics has resulted in a wide range of technological applications. Steam engine, for example, the first great industrial invention, arose from the discipline of thermodynamics, at the very start of eighteenth century. Within just a few decades, steam engines were being used in all sorts of applications including factories, mines, locomotives, and boats. Of course, the progress rate of human civilization increased manifold in a short time.

Then, in the nineteenth century, Faraday discovered the law of induction which became the basis for the invention of transformer. Further discoveries by Tesla and current war between Edison and Westinghouse led to the commercialization of electric power. Which created a ground-breaking change in the way we lived life as people. Radio came along soon when Hertz found the way to transmit and receive radio waves; the magic of long distance communication happened.


In first half of the twentieth century, two great inventions took the world by storm. Firstly, there was this enormous, uncontrolled atomic energy, employed as weapons of mass destruction in the second world war. Which would later be controlled in the nuclear reactors to harness clean electrical energy for the 21st century society. The second big invention of the early twentieth century was the television; all the world inside a box; first in greyscale then in color.

In next half of the twentieth century, humankind exceeded all their expectations. Landing on the moon, flying past the planet Saturn and invention of the internet. Towards the end of the twentieth century, personal computers became a reality. Productivity of man reached an all time high. Furthermore, the continually developing semiconductor physics led to manufacturing of even smaller computers and then ultimately smartphones.

applications of physics in technology

From a mechanical age to electrical; from electrical to space age; and from space to a digital age; how far have we come; and marching onwards still! The main point is, that there is a fundamental connection between physics and technology. Without knowledge of physics, there could be no technological advances in the society. Let's see with the following table a list of some important technologies and the principles of physics they are based on.


Steam engine

Laws of thermodynamics

Nuclear reactor

Controlled atomic fission

Radio and TV

Generation, transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves

Laser

Stimulated emission of radiation

Computer

Digital logic

Rocket propulsion

Newton’s laws of motion

Radar and sonar

Reflection of sound

Ultra high magnetic field

Superconductivity

Electric generator

Faraday’s law of induction

Hydroelectric power

Conversion of energy

Airplane

Fluid dynamics

Particle accelerators

Lorentz force

Optical fibers

Total internal reflection

Electron microscope

Wave nature of matter

Photocell

Photoelectric effect

Fusion reactor

Magnetic confinement of plasma

Telescope

Reflection and refraction of light

Transistor

Semiconductor physics

 


Now a question arises: can technology give rise to new physics? Yes but rarely is it so. For example, measurement of time, an otherwise ancient technology, was perfected only in the era of Huygens and Galileo. This new form of technology was an accurate pendulum clock, which led Galileo to understand the physics of velocity and acceleration.

Another example of technology giving rise to new physics is the particle accelerator such as the large hadron collider. Inside a particle accelerator, there are a thousand possibilities; discoveries of strange particles. It is not surprising that whenever a new particle is found, new physics is unraveled.

Thus, the link is kind of two-way. However, physics leading to new advances in technology is far more likely than vice versa. Whatever is the case, the ultimate benefit, should be going back to the common people. It is the duty of those in power to make it so and to not misuse physics or technology to fulfill their eccentricities.

Comments