What is the hardest type of physics?

Are you a student interested in pursuing the fascination of physics further? Physics is a branch of science encompassing the properties and nature of matter and energy, exploring how the universe behaves. Whilst its topics are interesting, this subject is notorious for being one of the most difficult subjects you can take. So, you might be anxious to know which parts are particularly tough. Let’s discuss this in more detail.

Quantum field theory

Quantum field theory is time and time again said to be the hardest type of physics out there. This is a range of physical principles, blending elements of quantum mechanics with relativity to explain behaviours of subatomic particles. It delves further into understanding the interactions of these particles via different force fields. Firstly, the level of knowledge needed to even think about studying this is high. This type of physics is particularly difficult because quantum behaving systems don’t follow the rules that students are used to.

They are hard to interpret and see, can exist in different states simultaneously, and have controversial features. Furthermore, quantum is mathematically very complex, with even the most intelligent students struggling with calculations and formulas. The concepts are complicated and there are still open questions about formalism, making it difficult from many different perspectives.

String theory

This type of physics theorises that the constituents of the universe involve one-dimensional strings instead of point-like particles. This theory builds on quantum field theory, arguably going beyond it. You need knowledge of quantum and general relativity before even thinking about approaching string theory. There is also a lot of newly introduced maths which is more complicated than ever. You need to be highly gifted at maths to enter this branch of physics.

Thermodynamics

This centres around heat, temperature, and work, concerning their relation to radiation, energy, and physical properties of matter. This branch of physics is difficult as there are so many aspects of it that depend on non-intuitive concepts. These concepts aren’t alarmingly hard, but they are new to students and often quite awkward to approach. With no fundamental meaning given to the Thermodynamical Entropy, it’s challenging to get an instinctive understanding of this property.

Electrodynamics

This is a branch of physics dealing with the interaction of electric currents with other electric currents or magnetic fields. It is fairly difficult as it ties a lot of topics together, making students overwhelmed. This can include vector calculus, series expansions, conservation laws, symmetry, and ordinary and partial differential equations. With lots of new quantities introduced that are unfamiliar to students, the concepts are hard to grasp. These quantities result from complicated mathematical equations, meaning you must be gifted at maths to understand this type of physics. Whilst being heavy in maths, electrodynamics intertwines the major concepts of traditional physics in an electromagnetic interaction framework.

Therefore, there are certainly some very challenging aspects, with most people saying the most difficult is quantum. However, each individual will approach the various types of physics differently, with different academic abilities and interests. If you are doing A Level Physics and are thinking of a degree then there are lots of areas of further study ahead of you. If you need help with your studies you can always use the services of an online A Level Physics tutor who will support you at all times. 

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at [email protected] or call us on 0800 689 1272