VCE Physics/Unit 1 : What ideas explain the physical world?

Description from the Study Design edit

Ideas in physics are dynamic. As physicists explore concepts, theories evolve. Often this requires the detection, description and explanation of things that cannot be seen. In this unit students explore how physics explains phenomena, at various scales, which are not always visible to the unaided human eye. They examine some of the fundamental ideas and models used by physicists in an attempt to understand and explain the world. Students consider thermal concepts by investigating heat, probe common analogies used to explain electricity and consider the origins and formation of matter. Students use thermodynamic principles to explain phenomena related to changes in thermal energy. They apply thermal laws when investigating energy transfers within and between systems, and assess the impact of human use of energy on the environment. Students examine the motion of electrons and explain how it can be manipulated and utilised. They explore current scientifically accepted theories that explain how matter and energy have changed since the origins of the Universe.

Students undertake quantitative investigations involving at least one independent, continuous variable.

Comments edit

The title of this unit is somewhat misleading. It relates most strongly to Area of Study 3 : What is matter and how is it formed which refers to underlying fundamental concepts that underpin the whole of physics. As Feynman said in his famous lectures:

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.

So the title would be apt if the unit kicked off with parts of AoS3 combined with kinematics (how things move) and dynamics (what makes things move). As it stands, this unit starts with thermal physics (AoS1) and that AoS refers to "kinetic energy" when this concept has not yet been covered by this course... it seems to be simply hoping "kinetic energy" is a concept which students have studied previously, understood sufficiently AND remembered!

So, if you are using this book to learn from, or teaching using this book, while this book deliberately follows the Study Design, feel free to start elsewhere. A suggestion would be Unit 2 : Area of Study 1 : How can motion be described and explained. We might add a full suggested order at a later date.

In This Unit edit

Area of Study 1 : How can thermal effects be explained?

Area of Study 2 : How do electric circuits work? edit

  • Sub sections to be determined

Area of Study 3 : What is matter and how is it formed? edit

  • Sub sections to be determined