Physics, the fundamental science of matter and energy, encompasses all levels of nature from the subatomic to the cosmic, and underlies much of the technology around us. Understanding the physics of our universe is an essential aspect of humanity's quest to understand our environment and our place within it. Doing physics enables us to explore the interaction between environment and human society, and can help us to work towards the future sustainability of the planet.
This Very Short Introduction provides an overview of how this pervasive science came to be and how it works: who funds it, how physicists are trained and how they think, and how physics supports the technology we all use. Sidney Perkowitz presents the theories and outcomes of pure and applied physics from ideas of the Greek natural philosophers to modern quantum mechanics, cosmology, digital electronics and energy production. Considering its most consequential experiments, including recent results in elementary particles, gravitational waves and materials science, he also discusses outside the lab, the effects of physics on society, culture, and humanity's vision of its place in the universe.