Physics Facts



Modified: 15 Mar 2022

physics facts

Physics gives all the “how’s” in a world of “what’s.” These physics facts will either leave you with answers or even more questions about this world.

  1. Physics is the science of matter and its behavior.
  2. Comes from the Greek word, physikḗ, which means “science of nature.”
  3. Physics was recognized as a discipline in the 19th century.
  4. It aims to understand how the universe works.
  5. It originated from astronomy, mathematics, and natural philosophy in 3000 B.C.
  1. The ancient civilizations used religious beliefs of heavenly bodies (astronomy) to explain nature.
  2. 650 B.C. was the age of natural philosophy.
  3. Leucippus was the first to reject religious explanations. According to him, every event has a natural cause.
  4. Thales was the first physicist. He believed the world was only built from one element: water.
  5. Aristotle developed Aristotelian physics in 300 B.C., but most of it was speculative and proven wrong by other philosophers.
  6. Archimedes’ encounter with buoyancy in 250 BC is the first fundamental physics discovery.
  7. The Theory of Impetus explains projectile motion. It was formulated by John Philoponus in 500 B.C.
  8. In 1514, Copernicus introduced Heliocentrism. Before this, it was believed that the sun orbits around the Earth.
  9. Galileo Galilei discovered that objects fall at the same time despite differences in mass.
  10. Newton formed the Laws of Motion in 1687.
  1. Galileo discovered the law of free fall after dropping two spheres from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  2. An apple didn’t fall on Newton’s head when he discovered the law of universal gravitation. He simply wondered why apples fall downward rather than sideways.
  3. A “Eureka moment” references Archimedes’ enthusiasm when he discovered buoyancy (The fact that he ran out naked is a minor detail.).
  4. The universe is constantly expanding, getting faster and colder as time passes.
  5. Time travel is possible – you’re doing it now, moving forward in time.
Table of Contents

The sun doesn’t change color during sunset.

We only see it that way because the sun’s wavelengths react with the difference in the atmosphere.

Gelatin doesn’t break if you tap it because of surface tension.

The outer gelatin layer serves as an elastic membrane, which is why it only bounces and jiggles.

gelatin, physics
Image from Adobe Stock

Water slows down light.

Each water molecule has individual surface tension, which distorts the image you see. This is why your face would look cartoonish behind a glass of water.

Sound creates heat.

Sound waves generate heat when they travel and are absorbed by materials.

You can yell at your soup to warm it.

However, sound waves carry minimal energy, so the effect would not be noticeable. You’re better off with a stove or a microwave.

Time goes faster at the top of the building than at the bottom.

According to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, the farther an object is from the Earth’s surface, the faster time passes.

Transparent objects are visible because they reflect light.

This is why we can still see glasses and ice.

The gyroscopic effect keeps a bike balanced.

The principle is that a spinning wheel tends to stay aligned in its original direction.

You can’t sink in the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea has a very high density because of its salt content, which would make it impossible for you to sink.

Image from Adobe Stock

Dead people float because of gasses.

When a person drowns, their lungs fill with water, which makes them sink. They float back up because the human body releases gas when it dies – making them lighter than the water.

Touch phones don’t detect certain materials because of electrical charge.

A typical smartphone would not detect touches from fingernails, rubber, or certain fabrics because they lack the ions needed for the interaction.

Water tension holds sandcastles together.

Sandcastles can stand on their own because of the water tension between sand and water molecules. This is why, if you add too little or too much water, it won’t hold.

Inertia keeps you from falling out of a rollercoaster.

Your mass resists the acceleration of a particularly gnarly loop and keeps you on your seat.

Pi is an irrational number.

Irrational numbers are numbers that cannot be expressed as fractions. Pi is an infinitely long and non-repeating number. The closest fractional estimate of pi is 22/7.

Space is restless.

I think we’ve all established space is pretty weird, but this is one of the weirder physics facts: particles are constantly popping in and out of existence in space. Picture a glass of soda with the carbon bubbles rising up. Scientists call this phenomenon “quantum foam.”

Ice cola with splashing CO bubbles.
Image from Adobe Stock

Jesus Christ lizards are a thing.

No, some random lizard didn’t do anything exasperating. The common basilisk is called the Jesus Christ lizard for its ability to run or walk on water. They do this through manipulating water surface tension through the special construction of their feet.

Alternate universes possibly exist.

Stephen Hawking wrote about parallel universes before his death.

If you travel faster than the speed of light, you’ll age less.

If you go to outer space and travel at the speed of light, you could come back to Earth to find a few days have already passed.

Winds have shadows.

They say you can’t see the wind, only feel it – however, this is actually not true. Wind can cast shadows, they’re just not visible to the naked eye and need to be processed via machine.

Sound is visible.

Every time you see a vibration, you’re seeing sound.