Classical Physics – A Brief History

Last updated on October 9th, 2020 at 09:49 pm

What Is Classical Physics?

In physicsCLASSICAL PHYSICS generally categorized into the theories of physics that predate Modern Physics. It is the theory of the underlying natural process that we observe in our everyday life. It basically deals with mass, force, and motion.


It mainly focuses on the macroscopic version of the mass (not smaller than 10–9 m ). It helps us to understand the motion of pulleys, projectile, and planets, etc. In terms of mathematics, a branch of physics in which Planck’s constant does not appear, is regarded as the classical physics.”

So, Classical Physics is basically the starting point for learning about physics.

History Of Classical Physics

Until around the end of the 19th century, Classical Physicswas commonly known as Natural Philosophy, Philosophy Of Nature, or Natural Science. But after the evolution of Modern Physics, Classical Physics has a limited role to play. Though it still plays a well considerable role Today.

see also, Four Most Bizarre Inadequacies Of Classical Physics
Physics is defined as the study of matter, force, energy, and relations between them. Classical physics in some sense is the oldest and most basic way to understand nature and its significant role

Now Let’s look at the key ideas of classical physics as they developed historically.

The Physics Of Aristotle (GeoCentric Model)



In Aristotelian physics, Earth Was The Center Of The Universe, and all the stars, planets, sun, and all the heavenly bodies revolve around Earth. Aristotle, (A Student of Plato ) intended to establish the general principle of change that govern all the movement of natural bodies whether it is living or non-living, celestial and terrestrial – including all motion whether natural or unnatural motion, change with respect to place, change with respect to size or number, qualitative change of any kind. 
According to Aristotelian physics, everything on Earth was made up of just four elements: earth, water, air, and fire.  He also held the notion that the heavens are made of a special weightless and incorruptible (i.e. unchangeable) fifth element called Aether.
In order to explain The Five Fundamental Elements”, Aristotle divided the cosmos into two distinct parts at the sphere of the moon. Below this sphere, everything was constituted by the four elements and that are “Fire-Air-Water-Earth, above this sphere only the fifth element –  Aether – was present. Above the sphere of the moon, there was no change except circular movement and everything was eternal. The only movement in circles was possible.
aristotle-universe-with-fundamental-particle
Aristotle’s Universe
credit: Wikipedia

The Copernican Model (Helio-Centric Model)

Let me remind my readers first that Nicolaus Copernicus was not the first one to argue that the SUN is the center of the Universe and EARTH is revolving around it. The Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos (c.310 – c.230 BCE) had suggested that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but Copernicus theory was the first to be accepted as a valid scientific possibility; later refined by Johannes Kepler in his Kepler’s Law Of Planetary Motion– The Heliocentric Model.


The Catholic Church then denounced the idea and banned Copernicus’ book De Revolutionibus (1543). At that time, there was no way to dismantle the existence of  Aristotelian physics until a new phase of Physics emerged that was  ”EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS”.

aristarchus-diagram-forcalculating-size-of-earth-moon-and-sun
Aristarchus’s 3rd-century BC calculations on the relative sizes of (from left) the Sun, Earth, and Moon, from a 10th-century AD Greek copy
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Experimental Revolution


Though the ideas of Aristotelian physics about the Universe, as expressed by Aristotle, persisted until the time of Galileo. Galileo Galilei was credited for the demise of the Aristotelian Planetary System. Before Galileo, there were many who seriously questioned much of it, and even did experiments to show that Aristotle was wrong.

Galileo publicly championed Copernicus’ heliocentric model, so he took heat for it and suffered the consequences of arguing against the Catholic Church’s Aristotelian teachings about physics.

Galileo is sometimes called the “Father Of Experimental Physics”, but as I have noted above, the experimental spirit arose earlier. Still, Galileo deserves credit for his total commitment to the experimental methods that paved the way for others like Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Issac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, James Clerk Maxwell, and the list goes on.
ON that note, I can say that I have tried to give an overview of Classical Physics within my reach. If there is any suggestion, I am all ears. feel free to comment.
That’s it for this post — share it if you like, like it if you share 🙂
 Don’t Believe It As I Said Till You Yourself Believe It First – Gautama Buddha

About Atul Sinha

I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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