Physics Technology And Society Assignments

A statement adopted by IUPAP, March 1999


Physics - the study of matter, energy and their interactions - is an international enterprise, which plays a key role in the future progress of humankind. The support of physics education and research in all countries is important because:

  1. Physics is an exciting intellectual adventure that inspires young people and expands the frontiers of our knowledge about Nature.
  2. Physics generates fundamental knowledge needed for the future technological advances that will continue to drive the economic engines of the world.
  3. Physics contributes to the technological infrastructure and provides trained personnel needed to take advantage of scientific advances and discoveries.
  4. Physics is an important element in the education of chemists, engineers and computer scientists, as well as practitioners of the other physical and biomedical sciences.
  5. Physics extends and enhances our understanding of other disciplines, such as the earth, agricultural, chemical, biological, and environmental sciences, plus astrophysics and cosmology - subjects of substantial importance to all peoples of the world.
  6. Physics improves our quality of life by providing the basic understanding necessary for developing new instrumentation and techniques for medical applications, such as computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, ultrasonic imaging, and laser surgery.

In summary, for all these reasons, physics is an essential part of the educational system and of an advanced society. We therefore urge all governments to seek advice from physicists and other scientists on matters of science policy, and to be supportive of the science of Physics. This support can take many forms such as:

  • National programs to improve physics teaching at all levels of the educational system.
  • Building and maintaining strong departments in universities (and other academic institutions) with opportunities for grants to support research.
  • Scholarships and fellowships for both undergraduate and graduate students studying physics.
  • Adequate funding for national laboratories and the formation of new ones as appropriate.
  • Funding and facilitating international activities and collaborations.

Physics - Technology and Society

Technology is the application of various laws, doctrines of physics for practical purposes. Practical applications of physics and other branches of sciences have played a very important role in the development of industry and in improving the standard of living of man.

The understanding of electromagnetic waves in the longer wavelength domain has found applications in radio, television and wireless communication.

Television programs from the distant countries can be watched ‘live’ via satellites. The satellite communication has resulted in bringing the world to the tabletop.

These satellites also help in forecasting weather and in geophysical survey such as exploration of oil wells. The electricity that we use in our homes and industry is generated at a power plant by the conversion of some other form of energy into electrical energy.

Nuclear energy released in a fission process is the source of energy in a nuclear reactor which produces electricity.

A host of other applications of physics have contributed a great deal to the technical advancement of society. Our society, today is becoming more and more science oriented. Thus physics plays a very significant role in technology and in our daily lives.

Some Physicists from Different Countries of the World and their Major Contributions


Major Contribution / Discovery

Country of Origin


Principle of buoyancy; Principle of the lever


Galileo Galilei

Law of inertia


Christiaan Huygens

Wave theory of light


Isaac Newton

Universal law of gravitation; Laws of motion; Reflecting telescope


Michael Faraday

Laws of electromagnetic induction


James Clerk Maxwell

Electromagnetic theory; Light-an electromagnetic wave


Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

Generation of electromagnetic waves


J.C. Bose

Ultra short radio waves


W.K. Roentgen



J.J. Thomson



Marie Sklodowska Curie

Discovery of radium and polonium; Studies on natural radioactivity


Albert Einstein

Explanation of photoelectric effect; Theory of relativity


Victor Francis Hess

Cosmic radiation


R.A. Millikan

Measurement of electronic charge


Ernest Rutherford

Nuclear model of atom

New Zealand

Niels Bohr

Quantum model of hydrogen atom


C.V. Raman

Inelastic scattering of light by molecules


Louis Victor de Borglie

Wave nature of matter


M.N. Saha

Thermal ionisation


S.N. Bose

Quantum statistics


Wolfgang Pauli

Exclusion principle


Enrico Fermi

Controlled nuclear fission


Werner Heisenberg

Quantum mechanics; Uncertainty principle


Paul Dirac

Relativistic theory of electron; Quantum statistics


Edwin Hubble

Expanding universe


Ernest Orlando Lawrence



James Chadwick



Hideki Yukawa

Theory of nuclear forces


Homi Jehangir Bhabha

Cascade process of cosmic radiation


Lev Davidovich Landau

Theory of condensed matter; Liquid helium


S. Chandrasekhar

Chandrasekhar limit, structure and evolution of stars


John Bardeen

Transistors; Theory of super conductivity


C.H. Townes

Maser; Laser


Abdus Salam

Unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions


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