Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Land Of Physics - Think Of It As A Map To An Excellent Action Adventure Game

Central Scientific's 1939 Map of Physics (image via Frank Jacobs)
This spatial representation of the subject, dating from 1939, defines itself as Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring souls who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip.
The map represents physics as a continent with its main branches as rivers. The districts are populated with villages named after famous physicists, with the relation between those pioneers and their field of expertise.

Those fields are, left to right and top to bottom: Mechanics, Sound, Electricity, Magnetism, Light, Astronomy, Heat, Mechanical and Electromagnetic Energy, and Radioactivity.

Displaying the fields as topographical elements of the same map hints at the unified nature of the subject. Some examples: '[T]he joining of astronomy and mechanics […] by Kepler, Galileo and Newton (who showed that the movement of the Moon is described by the same laws as [that of] a falling apple.' At the center of the map, mechanics and electromagnetism merge. 'Electromagnetism [itself is] a fusion between electricity and magnetism, which were joined when it was noted by Oersted that an electric current produces a magnetic field, and when it was noted by Faraday that when a magnet is moved around in a wire loop, it creates a current in that loop.' (Description via Frank Jacobs)

So, think of it this way: if you can memorize the geography of lands or cities represented in the typical action adventure video game, you can more easily conceptualize the world of physics with the study of this map. I would suggest this to educators teaching the basics of physics and/or any of the specific fields.