One Map Explains How the Entirety of Physics is Connected

In physics, it can be difficult to see how each subsection works with another. This one map shows how each part of physics works together.
Shelby Rogers

The umbrella of physics covers a lifetime's worth of study. It includes everything from black holes, waves, quantum mechanics, and the elusive dark matter. That doesn't even include the theoretical and philosophical issues surrounding physics.

Without years of study, it can be difficult to piece each segment together, especially if you specialize in another discipline. However, one map combines and links each physics subset together.

YouTube user Dominic Walliman crafted a single, colorful and illustrated map to connect each branch of physics. It even moves historically from classical physics, through Newton's studies and up to modern quantum physics.

"If you don't already know physics, it's difficult sometimes to see how all of these subjects are related to each other," Walliman said.

physicsmap[Image courtesy of Dominic Walliman/Flickr]

If the map still looks daunting, Walliman created an eight minute video summarizing each section. It walks you through the history of physics and its current applications with animations.

Classical physics with Newtonian physics and the laws of motion. The video helps link Newton's laws of motion with the law of universal gravitation, or how Earth's rotation around the sun correlates with the gravitational pull of objects on Earth's surface. Walliman even notes the need for mathematics in physics, describing it as "the language of physics."

It branches into electromagnetism, fluid mechanics, and classical mechanics under the classical physics category. Even chaos theory makes a distinct appearance, linking it with entropy and its relation in thermodynamics.

"[Classical Physics] told us we live in a universe where everything revolves sort of like clockwork, if you measured something accurately enough, the future was predetermined," Walliman noted.

However, we know few things in physics remain absolute, which Walliman discusses in his Relativity and Quantum physics sections.

Relativity focuses largely on Albert Einstein's theories of relativity, and Walliman's explanations make Einstein's thoughts much more digestible to a layperson without oversimplifying the topic. Rather than lumping the theories of relativity together, Walliman breaks down the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity.

Quantum Physics is the last section discussed, focusing on atomic theory and condensed matter physics. Walliman even acknowledges the disconnect between quantum field theory and the general theory of relativity, as field theory ignores gravity.

But what of the chasm of ignorance? Who or what falls into that gray area? The "chasm of ignorance" includes the spots physicists still need to understand in order to fill gaps in the map. It includes things like dark matter, something that could hopefully be patched as CERN begins searching for a "dark photon."

However, the chasm clearly severs our current understandings of physics from "the future." Classical physics, the relative realm of comfort, is like Middle Earth, the Chasm of Ignorance like Mordor, and the Future could be the gained knowledge and understanding of how the universe works.

Want to download a larger version of the map for later? Find it here. You can even order a poster-sized version of the map here via Redbubble. You can also find more of Walliman's videos here on his YouTube channel.