How Physics is Part of Our Life
According to Wikipedia, Physics means knowledge of nature in Ancient Greek. It is the study of interactions between matter and energy in our universe. Physics is part of our daily life and can be seen in many actions that we perform and things that we use in our everyday life. Therefore, it is no surprise that Physics plays an important role in supporting us in our chores, errands and duties.
One place we can see physics in action is the children’s playground. The see-saw is simply a plank with a pivot. When each child sits on the opposite ends of a see-saw, the weight of each child produces a turning effect. The two turning effects of the two children counterbalance each other. As a result, a child needs to exert only a small force to push himself up; a force that is smaller than that needed if he stands up from a squatting position.
Does physics play a part in the slide? The slide consists of stairs going up with the slide going down; they are examples of inclined planes. The flight of stairs is actually an inclined plane, with steps built into it. An inclined plane eases the effort of children climbing up by spreading the effort over some distance. The inclined slide spreads the influence of gravity over a distance and allows children to have fun while returning to ground gently. Can you imagine if the slide is design vertically? That will be dangerous.
We can also see the application of physics while traveling in cars. The car stores energy in its battery. The energy from the battery is then used to start the engine and to run the electrical components of the car like the radio. Speakers in the car use electricity and moving magnets to create sound waves from the radio. The sound waves that come from the speaker vibrates our eardrums. Our brain then interprets the loudness and pitch of the sound.
When your body is moving, it takes a force to cause it to stop moving. When traveling in a car, your body is moving as fast as the car. Without a seatbelt, a sudden stop can send you out of your seat due to inertia. Inertia refers to the resistance of any physical object to any change in its velocity. The seatbelt which holds you tightly to your seat, is the cause of the strong force that prevents your body from continuing to move when the brakes is hit.
The airbags in cars also plays a very important role in protecting the life of the drivers and passengers. A car’s steering wheel and dashboard are hard surfaces. If our head hits them in a car crash, the unyielding hard surface will bring our head to a stop in a short time. This high deceleration of our head is caused by a large force on our head, which can prove fatal. On the other hand, if airbags are deployed, our head will hit the airbag instead. The airbag is softer and yields more. This means that our head will be given more time to come to a stop. The deceleration of our head is relatively gentler. Thus, the force on our head is less, which means our head will suffer a smaller impact.
As we have seen, physics is not distant but around us. O Level physics students will become familiar with many of the physics concepts that can be applied to understand how things work in our daily life. Physics tuition will strengthen students’ grasp of physics concepts, by introducing more life examples. This help them feel physics is applicable, relevant, interesting, even exciting and perhaps more importantly, helps them to understand the working of the physical world around them.
This interesting video by University of Utah (Department of Physics & Astronomy) showcase some key Physics in our everyday’s life.
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