What Are 10 Physical Science Topics

The study of the structure and properties of atoms is a topic of interest and intrigue for students.

Physical science includes any of the sciences that analyzes nature, the properties of energy and the study of nonliving matter. Branches of physical science include physics, astronomy and geology. It also includes chemistry, with the exception being that chemistry can directly relate to biology when it considers the chemistry of living things and the chemical processes involved. There are a multitude of interesting science topics related to physical science.

Structure of the Atom

The atom is the smallest building block of matter. It is composed of three basic components, the positively charged proton, the neutrally charged neutron and the negatively charged electron. The proton and the neutron are both located in the nucleus. The electron orbits around the nucleus.

Newton’s Laws

Isaac Newton composed three laws of physics more than 400 years ago that are still valid today. Essential in this discussions is Newton’s Three Laws of motion 1). Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. 2). The relationship between an object’s mass – m, its acceleration – a, and the applied force – F is F = ma. 3). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Density

Density is a physical property of matter. Each element and every compound is unique in its property of density. Density is different than weight and involves the “relative heaviness” of an object with a specific and constant volume. For example, a bar of gold is more dense than a 2-by-4 (pine wood) of the same size, even though they might have the same volume.

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Landforms

Physical science includes topics such as the nonliving properties of the Earth, moon and solar system.

The Idaho Museum of Natural History defines landforms as “any feature of Earth’s surface having a distinct shape and origin.” Mountains and volcanoes are easily recognizable landforms. Other landforms are glaciers, valleys, plains, plateaus, hills, dunes and canyons. Some lesser-known landforms are buttes, badlands, drumlins and peninsulas.

The Age of the Universe

Scientists believe the universe is between 14 and 22 billion years old. Professor Edward L. Wright of UCLA’s Division of Astronomy and Astrophysics states that there are at least three ways that the age of the universe can be estimated: the age of the chemical elements, the age of the oldest star clusters and the age of the oldest white dwarf stars.

The Law of Conservation of Energy

The Law of Conservation of Energy states that in a closed system, (a system isolated from its surroundings), the total energy of the system is conserved, it does not gain or lose energy, it simply changes form.

Atoms

While the cell is the most basic unit of life, the atom is the most basic unit of matter. While cells are living things, atoms are nonliving. When two or more atoms combine, they form a molecule.

The Periodic Table

The periodic table charts the most basic units of matter: chemical elements. An element is a material that cannot be broken down or changed into another substance using chemical means. The smallest unit of an element containing the unique properties of that element is an atom. Each element has a distinct atomic number, atomic mass and atomic weight. There are 117 elements listed in the periodic table.

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The Rock Cycle

Understanding the rock cycle includes knowing the three main types of rocks (sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic), how they are formed, how they change over time and how they relate to each other. Sedimentary rocks form underwater from Earth’s surface sediment. Igneous rocks form from volcanic magma, and metamorphic rocks form when igneous or sedimentary rocks are subject to extreme heat and pressure.

Moon, Phases, Effect on Earth

The moon orbits the earth in 27.3 days. During that period it passes through eight distinct phases. The moon exerts a gravitational pull on the Earth, directly effecting the Earth’s tides.