Four Levels of Physics

1. Ancient physics (Pre-16th century): Based largely on geometry, four/five element theory of matter, metaphysics, and ancient world views; careful reasoning; interesting and impressive. Some representatives: Ptolemy, Aristotle, Aryabhata, and Al Kindi.

2. Classical physics: end of 16th – end of 19th century. Based on ingenious instruments, calculus and differential equations, probability theory, hypothetic-deductive method, and empirical philosophy. Abundant results: enormous and significant breakthroughs in human knowledge on the directly experienced and astronomical worlds; predictability of phenomena with mathematical/statistical precision; recognition of gravitation and electromagnetism as the two fundamental forces in the physical world, recognition of many laws of nature.

3. Modern physics: Beginning of 20th century – now. Revelation of the substratum of matter and energy; insights into an altogether different level of (not directly experienced) Reality – the microcosm, fundamental particles -; discovery of galaxies and expanding universe: formulation of science-based cosmology (big bang, inflation, etc.); insights into the nature of space-time; sophistical mathematics, and high-precision instruments.

4. PoMo Physics (Post-modern physics): Early 20th to present) is a branching of modern physics. Based on bold speculative excursions into the philosophical, metaphysical, and religious implications of modern physics; toying with the state of the universe trillions of years hence; scant empirical evidence; sometimes inspired by popularizations (non-mathematical treatments) of physics; imaginative science-based constructs (e.g. parallel universes); a free-for-all realm of theorizing with little or no mathematical aspect; fascinating now and again to curious inquirers into science, but rather annoying to some technical physicists; producing hardly any result of empirical significance or practical value, tortuous tying of physics with consciousness, freewill, etc.; in some respects like medieval scholasticism, though based here and there on abstract mathematics.
June 1, 2014


Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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