Why study Physics?
Lasers and optics are used in a number of places in the Physics curriculum. A laser beam can be used for aligning optical systems, as it is here, or as the light source for the system that is to be measured. (Photo by Jay Grabiec)
Why major or minor in Physics? Simple question, simple answer: because studying Physics helps you understand how the universe works. The laws of Physics, when you really look at them, are absolutely amazing. The more you learn about Physics, the more you come to see how seemingly unrelated phenomena in the universe can have remarkably similar explanations.
Learning the laws of Physics gives you an appreciation for many of the beautiful things that happen around you every day. What is a rainbow? Why is the sky blue? What is lightning? Physics can give you an understanding of the principles at work to create these phenomena. While you may be able to describe the colors in the sunset, an understanding of the reasons for those colors leads to a greater appreciation of the wonders of light and color.
The modern world around us has many applications of Physics. Television, computers, and cell phones are all based on applications of fundamental physical principles. In addition, you also learn about phenomena that you don't see everyday, but address some very fundamental questions: What is the nature of time and distance? How did the universe begin, and what is its ultimate fate? What really is matter and energy? What are the limits of what we truly can know about the universe? Would the earth fall out of its orbit if everyone in Asia jumped at precisely the same time?
The type of person that wants to study Physics has an interest in the inner workings of the universe. But there are practical aspects to the study of Physics. The skill set that a Physics major ends up with is useful and sought after in the job market. Whether you go to graduate school (in Physics, meteorology, medicine, mathematics, or law) or into a career position, you will have problem solving skills, laboratory techniques, knowledge of technical equipment, and an approach to problems that will help you succeed.
Physics majors enter the job market in computer science, engineering, sales, education, and a variety of other areas. They are successful in all of these areas because their skill set allows them to attack new challenges with confidence.