The Physical Sciences

Physical Science is the study of the non-living systems (Biology and Life Sciences cover the living world).  The disciplines which make up the Physical Sciences are Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth Sciences (meteorology and geology) and Physics.

 

The branches of Physical Science can be broken out and explained  like this:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics– Astronomy can be described as the study of the universe beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, while Astrophysics can be defined as a branch of Astronomy which concentrates on the physical processes associated with the entities that comprise the universe.

 

  • Chemistry – Chemists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another.

 

  • Earth science – Earth science concerns all the physical aspects of the Earth and it’s atmosphere. Branches include oceanography, geology, meteorology.

 

  • Physics – the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. In general, it is the science which helps us to understand how the physical properties of the world interact and work with one another.

Jobs in these fields include:

  • Chemists who study composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, especially of atomic and molecular systems.
  • Geoscientists study the composition, structure and other physical aspects of the earth. They protect the environment; predict future geologic hazards; and offer advice on construction and land use projects.
  • Physicists who explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter and the interaction of matter and energy.

 

Majors and concentrations one might consider if thinking about a career in the Physical Sciences are:

  • Astronomy
  • Astrophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Chemical Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Paleontology
  • Physics
  • Planetary Science

 

Who hires people with degrees in the Physical Sciences?  Often these people work in research labs or as faculty at universities, so higher education is a huge employer.  However, you might also find Physical Science degrees in the oil and gas industry, sustainability and environmental organizations, in television (meteorologists!), construction companies and in government jobs at places like the National Weather Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Geographic Survey and federally-run observatories and labs.