Physics extends well into people’s everyday lives – imprisoning people within its forces. From each step a person takes to the evolution of the body, physics has several long-term as well as short-term effects and uses. For everyday living, many technologies have even exploited the rules of physics.
Simple Mechanical Devices
An easy place to see physics in action is with a simple lever – most easily observed at a park. Levers come in three flavors, each with varying fulcrum locations. They serve to magnify force, lessening the weight of an object on the opposing end. A simple “see-saw” at a park consists of a lever (the locations for sitting) and the fulcrum (placed in the middle). The two opposing forces counterbalance each other, creating a smooth ride through the air.
The transportation industry is no stranger to the manipulation of everyday physics. Cars and trains utilize the wheel, preventing gravity from halting the movement of an object, allowing it to act as a constantly flowing object. Airplanes take it one step further, allowing lift as well as forward momentum. They manipulate physics – much like birds – by creating lift through wing shape as well as the wing’s angle – both of which serve to alter airflow.
Physics is all relative. This theme resonates through Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity. One focus is on the physics of time, which alters throughout the universe and doesn’t maintain a uniform structure; the speed of an object can dictate the time-flow of and on that object. A common manipulation of this exists within GPS satellites. These satellites take into account variations in time-flow between the satellite and the GPS receiver.
Even when reading this sentence, physics is at work. The eyes evolved in many species – through several examples of convergent evolution – manipulating the electromagnetic spectrum. The ears hear “sounds,” which occur through the alteration of air molecules. Albeit less understood, quantum physics exists within everything. This world lacks the fundamental set of rules by which nature behaves and instead acts in a much more random manner. Every day, for example, plants break down sunlight and absorb water and carbon dioxide, creating glucose and releasing oxygen as a byproduct.