Physics is a science which requires lot of thinking. Built on the foundations of intuition and real physical experiments, it is a close cousin of mathematics.
The underlying philosophy of a physicist is to understand the world through experience. A cause-effect relationship is commonly observed, a hypothesis is made and that hypothesis is tested rigorously. Once it has passed all tests i.e. if the same results can be repeated by experiment, then a theory is formed.
Professionally, physicists are theoretical and experimental. Theoretical physicists depend on their intuition and thought experiments more while experimental ones depend on actual physical experiments and results. Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist.
From the 16th century, there have been many famous physicists such as Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Bohr and Einstein. They have contributed to the development of several sub-branches of physics such as mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity and quantum theory.
In my opinion, here are some of the interesting developments in physics since the 16th century:
- Newton’s theories of motion and gravity
- Maxwell’s unification of Ampere, Faraday and others’ laws to formulate a consistent theory of electrodynamics
- Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity
- Quantum physics advanced by Bohr, Dirac, Heisenberg and Schrodinger
There are many more interesting developments such as statistical physics, thermodynamics, etc.
The two major theories studied today are general relativity and quantum mechanics. General relativity is supposed to describe the physics of the large astronomical bodies while quantum mechanics is supposed to describe the physics of sub-atomic particles. Physicists have developed highly mathematical ways to combine these two into one fundamental theory. The most popular of these attempts is what is called string theory or membrane theory nowadays.
Some famous physicists alive today are Stephen Hawking, Leonard Susskind, etc.
Although I have studied a little elementary physics, I am a novice in the field. So please consider any error I post on the subject that of an amateur, and do let me know so I can correct it 😛