Physics (Greek: physis – φύσις meaning "nature") is a natural science that involves the study of the fundamentals that govern the universe, dimensions, and energy or matter. This has led to the discovery and understanding of the laws and principles which govern the physical universe. More broadly, Physics is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the world and universe behave. One tool which helps with this general analysis is the study of the elementary constituents of the universe and their interactions.
Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, perhaps the oldest through its inclusion of astronomy. Evidence exists that the earliest civilizations dating back to beyond 3000 BCE, such as the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, and the Indus Valley Civilization, all had a predictive knowledge and a very basic understanding of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars. Although originally part of other physical sciences and mathematics, Physics emerged to become a unique modern science during the Scientific Revolution of the 16th century.
Physics is both significant and influential, in part because advances in its understanding have often translated into new technologies, but also because new ideas in physics often resonate with other sciences, mathematics, and philosophy. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism or nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products which have dramatically transformed modern-day society (e.g., television, computers, domestic appliances, atomic power, and nuclear weapons); advances in thermodynamics led to the development of motorized transport; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.
Physics also has philosophical implications. It can be historically traced back to ancient Greek philosophy. From Thales' first attempt to characterize matter, to Democritus' deduction that matter ought to reduce to an invariant state, the Ptolemaic astronomy of a crystalline firmament, and Aristotle's book Physics, different Greek philosophers advanced their own theories of nature. Well into the 18th century, physics was known as "Natural philosophy". By the 19th century physics was realized as a positive science and a distinct discipline separate from philosophy and the other sciences. Physics, as with the rest of science, relies on philosophy of science to give an adequate description of the scientific method.