Archived Pages from 20th Century!!


Physics is an organized way of conversing with nature. Physicists ask questions; nature responds. For many questions, the answers are almost predictable, but when the question is a particularly good one, the answer can be unexpected and gives us new knowledge of the way the world works. These are the moments physicists live for.

The fundamental ideas of physics underlie all basic science--astronomy, biology, chemistry, and geology. Physics also is essential to the applied science and engineering that has taken our world from the horse and the buggy to the supersonic jet, from the candle to the laser, from the pony express to the fax, from the beads of an abacus to the chips of a computer.

Today physics is as exciting as ever. The animated conversation between physicists and nature goes on and it shows no sign of stopping.


The most basic of the sciences, physics, is all around us every day. If you've ever wondered what makes lightning, why a boomerang returns, how ice skaters can spin so fast, how Michael Jordan can "fly," why waves crash on the beach, how that tiny computer can do complicated problems, or how long it takes light from a star to reach us, you have been thinking about some of the same things physicists study every day.

Physicists like to ask questions. They try to find answers for almost everything--from when the universe began to why soda fizzes. If you like to explore and figure out why things are the way they are, you might like physics.

If you've had a back-row seat at a rock concert, and could still hear, you experienced physics at work! Physicists studying sound contribute to the design of concert halls and the amplication equipment. Knowing more about how things move and interact can be used to manage the flow of traffic and help cities avoid gridlock.

Lasers and radioactive elements are tools in the war on cancer and other diseases. Geophysicists are developing methods to give advance warning of earthquakes.

The work of physicists made possible the computer chips that are in your digital watch, CD player, electronic games, and hand-held calculator.


The laboratory of the physicist extends from the edge of the universe
to inside the nucleus of an atom. A physicist may work in a laboratory designing materials for the computer chips of tomorrow, or smashing atomic particles against one another in a quest to understand how our universe began. Physicists have orbited the Earth as astronauts, and plumbed the oceans' depths. Individuals who have studied physics seek to make instruments that diagnose and cure disease; to develop safer and cleaner fuels for our cars and homes; to harness the power of the sea; to calculate the movement of arctic glaciers; and to create smaller, faster electronic components and integrated circuits.

Research physicists work in industry and government, in laboratories and hospitals, and on university campuses. Some physicists serve in the military, teach in high schools and colleges, design science museum exhibits, write books and news articles about science, give advice to federal, state, local, and foreign governments, run businesses, even become artists. Students not interested in pursuing a science career can still benefit from courses in physics. The study of physics helps you acquire very special problem-solving skills and teaches you to better observe and understand the world. We all employ physical concepts in everyday life.

Pole vaulters and drummers aren't research physicists, but they make use of physical concepts such as elasticity, momentum, conservation of energy, vibration, reverberation, and reflection to hone their skills.


A course in physics can be the beginning of a career in science or an important building block for another profession. The course will give you a powerful and beautiful way to look at and understand the world around you.

If you like mathematics and science, a physics career offers many opportunities. You should take algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus (if it's available) in high school. When you get to college, you'll take more mathematics. Studying mathematics will help you in physics-and physics will help you understand and begin to appreciate many applications of mathematical concepts.

Other fields of science overlap physics. Many parts of biology, chemistry, geology,
and engineering

use physics.

If you have taken both biology and chemistry,
you may have used physics. In college, if you decide to major in physics, you'll take more science but concentrate in physics. After you have taken general physics with laboratory work, you will study some of the fields within physics such as classical mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, relativity, astrophysics, optics and geophysics.

Graduate students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees concentrate fully on physics. The master's program usually takes two years and may require a research project. An additional two to four years may be needed to earn a Ph.D. One of the most important parts of the Ph.D. program is a piece of original research (either theoretical or experimental conducted with the guidance of a faculty advisor. You will write up the results for your thesis and perhaps publish it in a scientific journal.

As in other fields, computers are important tools for physicists. Computer programming classes will teach you the skills necessary for the modeling and analysis that are important in physics. But don't plan on spending all your time in the lab or in front of a computer screen! You'll need speaking and writing skills to communicate your discoveries, which means that English and composition are required. Scientists need to be able to write clear, concise reports about their research. The editors and reviewers at scientific journals won't re-write your paper, and publishing your work may be very important to your career as a scientist.

You will also need to speak before different audiences: you may present a lecture on your research at professional meetings of physicists, explain your research to non-scientists, and even answer questions from reporters for newspapers and magazines. If you decide to teach, being able to explain technical material in understandable language is particularly important. Science is international. The study of foreign languages will help when you're invited to attend an international meeting, accept a fellowship for study and research in a foreign country, or when the latest research paper in your field hasn't been translated in English.

If you become a scientist, you can contribute not only through your research, but also by helping others to understand how scientific research is important to them.



It has been said that children are born scientists. This is best illustrated by the questions they constantly ask. Teaching at the elementary or middle school level presents the challenge of keeping their curiosity alive while teaching new ideas. Why do you get electric shocks in cold, dry weather? Does a stick of dynamite contain force? What makes rainbows form? How cold can it get? Individuals who themselves appreciate science often have a special gift for teaching young children. Curiosity about the world around us is a common bond of children and scientists.


When you watch an athlete, you are seeing the principles of physics in motion. The bat hitting the baseball, the spiralling football, the bend in the vaulter's pole, and the tension of muscles as a weight is lifted illustrate some of the basic laws of physics, like momentum, equilibrium, velocity, kinetic energy, center of gravity, projectile motion, and friction. Knowing these principles of physics helps an athlete or coach improve performance.


Looking inside the body without surgery is one of medicine's most important tools. X-rays, computed tomography, CT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging are used to determine bone damage, diagnose disease, and develop treatment for various illnesses. Technicians who use imaging equipment need to be familiar with the concepts of x rays and magnetic resonance, and to be able to determine how much of this powerful technology to use. Imaging technicians work at hospitals, medical colleges, and clinics.


Today's automobiles are a far cry from those put on the road by Henry Ford. Computers play a major role in how cars operate. Computers are also used by mechanics to diagnose auto malfunctions. A basic understanding of computer technology is essential in almost every career.


The 1990s have been called the "Decade of the Environment." Environmental physicists are studying ozone layer depletion and other problems involving the atmosphere. They use acoustics to try to reduce noise pollution. They search for cleaner forms of fuel, study how smog forms and how to reduce it, and devise ways in which to dispose of and store nuclear waste safely.


Science is one of the most exciting assignments a reporter can have. New discoveries, controversial findings, space research, medical breakthroughs, natural disasters, technological competitiveness, and the environment make up a big part of the news. Reporters who have a background in physics have an advantage in being able to grasp technical issues quickly and communicate easily with researchers. Many major daily newspapers in this country have science sections; in addition, science reporting is featured on radio and television.


Physics offers challenging, exciting, and productive careers. As a career, physics covers many specialized fields--from acoustics, astronomy, and astrophysics to medical physics, geophysics, and vacuum sciences. Physics offers a variety of work activities--lab supervisor, researcher, technician, teacher, manager. Physics opens doors to employment opportunities throughout the world in government, industry, schools, and private organizations.

FIELDS where PHYSICS is vital.


Electronic, Biomedical, Mechanical, Computer, Civil, Chemical, Environmental, Aeronautical and Instrumentation.


Law, Administration, Business, Journalism, Museums, Sports, Accounting, Marketing, Art, Science Communication.


Industry, Government, Military

Environmental Science

Noise control, Pollution control, Conservation, Radiation protection, Environmental monitoring.


Technical books, Journals, Software.


Telecommunications, Television, Image analysis, Video recording, Photography, Laser Technology.


Radiation Oncology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Radiation Protection, Nuclear Medicine, Diagnostic Instrumentation.

Computer Science

Graphics/Software Design, Peripherals Modelling, Artificial Intelligence, Data Processing, Programming, Computer Games.


Construction, Food, Chemical, Aerospace, Engineering, Agriculture, Consumer Products, Energy, Fuel, Metallurgical, Semiconductors, Textile & Clothing, Transportation, Computers, Electrical, Laser Technology, Materials.


Colleges, Universities, Technical Schools, Elementary and Middle Schools.

Basic Research

Universities, Technical Schools, National Laboratories, Industrial and Private Laboratories.

Space and Earth Sciences

Astronomy, Space Technology, Geophysics, Geology, Atmospheric Sciences, Energy & Resources, Ocean Sciences.


General Information-AIP and its Member Societies

To Find Additional Information follow this hyperlink.

Career Information and Resources

To find additional information:

For Statistical & Salary Surveys contact:

American Institute of Physics

Education and Employment Statistics Division

For Physics News and physics posters contact:

American Institute of Physics

Public Information Division

For job listings in the United States and abroad contact:

American Institute of Physics

Public Information Division

Additional resource books and bulletins which may be found at your local public or university library:

America's Federal Jobs- A comprehensive guide to new job openings each year in the federal government- JIST Works, Inc., Indianapolis, IN

Careers in Chemistry- Questions and answers- American Chemical Society, Washington, DC

Career Opportunity Update- Monthly magazine- Career Research Systems, Santa Ana, CA

Chamber of Commerce Directories- Available in many cities, and restricted to the areas they serve.

Chronicle of Higher Education- Weekly newspaper- Washington, DC

Corporate Jobs Outlook- Monthly magazine- Career Research Systems, Santa Ana, CA

Directory of American Research & Technology-Organizations Active in Product Development for Business- R.R. Bowker, New York, NY

Directory of Directories- Gale Research, Inc., Detroit, MI

Directory of Physics & Astronomy Staff- American Institute of Physics, New York, NY

Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory- Vol. I, Dun & Bradstreet Inc., New York, NY

Employment Guide for Engineers and Scientists- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., New York, NY

Encyclopedia of Associations- Vol. I- National Organizations of the U.S.

Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy & Related Fields- American Institute of Physics, New York, NY

Job Hunter's Source Book- Gale Research Inc., Detroit, MI

National Directory of Nonprofit Organizations- The Taft Group, Rockville, MD

Peterson's - Engineering, Science & Computer Jobs- Peterson's Guides, Princeton, NJ

Physics Today- A monthly professional scientific magazine- American Institute of Physics, New York, NY

Research Centers Directory- A guide to university related and other nonprofit research organizations- Gale Research Inc., Detroit, MI

The Scientist- Biweekly newspaper for the science professional- The Scientist, Inc., Philadelphia, PA

Scientific and Engineering Societies: Resources for Career Planning- American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC

Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives- (3 Vol.) Standard & Poor's, New York, NY

Thomas' Register of American Manufactures- (12 Vol.) Thomas Publishing Company, New York, NY

Value Line Investment Survey- Arnold Bernhard & Company, Inc.