West Ranch High School

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Physics in the Universe

Physical processes govern everything in the universe
  • Geoscientists require a strong background in the laws of physics in order to interpret processes that shape the Earth system, and physicists benefit from applying their models in a range of contexts
  • Forces of moving water push tiny particles of sand along beds of rivers, sometimes hard enough that they collide with the rocks with such force that a piece of the river bed breaks off over time, the Grand Canyon forms
  • Gravity pulls constantly on rocks at the surface of the Earth, and sometimes the frictional forces resisting movement falter a landslide crashes down a canyon, destroying everything in its path
  • The nuclei of atoms thousands of miles below the surface that have remained stable for millions of years spontaneously explode apart, releasing massive amounts of energy and heating up the surrounding rock a geyser of hot steam erupts in California, releasing some of this excess heat to the surface
In each case, an earth or space scientist is studying the physics of the situation, perhaps using a computer model to fast forward millions of years of energy  transfer to explain  what we see on Earth today a longside this scientist is a team of engineers, hoping to use this understanding to design and test solutions to many of society’s problems from natural hazards to global warming, or to minimize our impact on the natural world.
NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards
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