How Is Physics Related to Technology?


Every kind of technology makes use of principles articulated by the scientific discipline of physics. Even very simple technology, such as the wheel or the lever, have actions that can be described in terms of basic forces and matter interactions.

More complex technology, naturally, makes use of more rarefied physical concepts. GPS satellites, for example, adjust their internal timekeeping to account for the relativistic effects of their motion. Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity describes the dilation of time that fast-moving objects experience. Without taking steps to correct for this change in the rate that time passes, GPS coordinates would be inaccurate by an unacceptable factor.

In general, physics describes the sort of things that are possible in the universe, and technology is eventually built to do work within the confines physics has discovered. This interplay works in reverse, as well. While early physicists may have been able to articulate basic principles with little more than thought experiments, modern physicists frequently make use of extremely high-tech machines and processes. The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, for example, is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It operates at higher energies than any previous collider, and it was built explicitly for the purpose of conducting experiments in particle physics.