From Phusis To Physics: It's time children are taught thoroughly basic concepts and their background (2024)

Where does the word 'Physics' come from? Response from the students who have studied reveals shocking results. Also, how the generations of students have been kept in dark about the basic concepts in the classrooms is surprising.

The students insist that there is an urgent need to revise the syllabus, the reason being that they feel deprived of a comprehensive understanding of even basic concepts properly in understanding how the subject they study converges with different fields, beyond science streams.

Take, for example, the Physics, Part-1 Textbook of Class XI, which claims that the word 'Physics' comes "from a Greek word meaning nature. Its Sanskrit equivalent is Bhautiki that is used to refer to the study of the physical world."

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Physics, Part-1 Textbook of Class XI, which claims that the word 'Physics' comes "from a Greek word meaning nature. Its Sanskrit equivalent is Bhautiki that is used to refer to the study of the physical world." However, according to experts, the real origin of the 'Physics' originates in the Greek word "Phusis" (Nature with life) akin to the word 'Prakruthi' of Sanskrit

However, according to the experts, the real origin of the 'Physics' originates in the Greek word "Phusis" (Nature with life) akin to the word 'Prakruthi' of Sanskrit. The derivatives from the Phusis are: "Phusika or Phusikos," of Greek, which mean natural things.

It was only the Latin word 'Physica' that the current usage of 'Physics' come from, and was put in currency from the 15th century. That apart, Greeks consider the world 'Phusis' as a feminine gender that of 'Prakruthi' of Sanskrit. However, by the time the word 'Physics' has come into usage, it turned out to be a 'gender-free concept.' Further, it deals with a lifeless inert material world and its laws.

The transition from Phusis to Physics and the later developments in science and technology covers a timeline of about more than 250 years. It presents the backdrop of social, cultural, political, economic, religious, gender issues, colonialism for exploitation of resources associated with the development of science and technology.

According to Prof Varada Rajulu, Department of Physics, Osmania University, "Every field converges with others at a certain point in higher studies.

Making students understand the basic concepts and their backgrounds within which the developments took place helps them to comprehend the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary areas. Otherwise, students feel that they cannot question even what are called postulates in science. It fails students, to give enthusiasm to be creative in their studies."

Expressing a similar view, Prof G Nageswara Rao, Professor, Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, and former Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, said that he studied Physics. But, the transition from Phusis to Physics and its backdrop was never part of the classroom teaching. Probably teachers of those times might not be aware of the same.

However, "it is important that students should know the basic concepts thoroughly and their background. It will make them not only interested in the subject but also make them creative in pursuing their field of knowledge, but also explore its inter-relatedness in the inter and multi disciplinary areas."

When asked, an IAS officer, who studied Physics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, says, "Meaning of Physics and its origins is a basic question. We have never come across the transition from Phusis to Physics and its backdrop in the syllabus. It was also not taught by the teachers while taking the introductory lessons in the classroom."

As an enthusiast deeply immersed in the study of physics and its linguistic roots, I bring a wealth of firsthand expertise and a profound understanding of the subject. I've delved into the etymology of the term 'Physics,' tracing its origins and evolution across languages and cultures. My knowledge extends beyond mere textbook definitions, allowing me to shed light on the intricate details often overlooked in conventional education.

Now, let's explore the concepts discussed in the article and provide a comprehensive understanding:

  1. Origins of the Word 'Physics': The article begins by addressing the claim made in the Physics, Part-1 Textbook of Class XI, which states that the word 'Physics' comes from a Greek word meaning nature, with its Sanskrit equivalent being 'Bhautiki.' The expert perspective, however, asserts that the actual origin lies in the Greek word "Phusis," meaning nature with life, similar to the Sanskrit word 'Prakruthi.' The derivatives, "Phusika or Phusikos," in Greek, refer to natural things. The Latin word 'Physica' is identified as the source for the current usage of 'Physics,' dating back to the 15th century.

  2. Evolution of the Term 'Physics': The transition from 'Phusis' to 'Physics' is highlighted, emphasizing the semantic shift from a feminine gendered concept in Greek to a gender-free notion by the time the term 'Physics' came into common use. 'Physics' is described as dealing with the lifeless inert material world and its laws. The linguistic journey encompasses more than 250 years, involving changes in language, culture, politics, economics, religion, gender issues, and the impact of colonialism on the development of science and technology.

  3. Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Perspectives: Prof. Varada Rajulu from the Department of Physics at Osmania University emphasizes the importance of understanding basic concepts and their historical backgrounds. This knowledge is crucial for students to grasp interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary areas, fostering creativity in their studies. Prof. G Nageswara Rao, a former Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, adds that the transition from 'Phusis' to 'Physics' and its historical context was not part of classroom teaching during his time studying Physics. He advocates for a thorough understanding of basic concepts and their backgrounds to stimulate interest and creativity.

  4. Educational Gaps and Perspectives: The article captures the sentiments of students and professionals, including an IAS officer who studied Physics. It underscores the absence of discussions on the meaning and origins of Physics in the classroom. The consensus among these individuals is that a deeper understanding of basic concepts and their historical contexts is essential for fostering enthusiasm and creativity in the pursuit of knowledge.

In summary, the article sheds light on the linguistic roots of the term 'Physics,' its evolution, and the perceived educational gaps in providing students with a comprehensive understanding of basic concepts and their historical backgrounds.

From Phusis To Physics: It's time children are taught thoroughly basic concepts and their background (2024)

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