Physics is a broad discipline, ranging from fundamental scientific questions to sophisticated technological applications. At its most basic, it is the study of matter and energy and their manifold interactions. Physicists study topics as wide-ranging as the underlying nature of space and time; the origins, large-scale structure, and future evolution of the universe; the behavior of stars and galaxies; the fundamental constituents of matter; the many different patterns in which matter is organized, including superconductivity, liquid crystals, or the various forms of magnetism in solids; the workings of biological matter, whether in molecules such as DNA, or cellular structures, or the transport of matter and energy in and across cells; and many others. Basic physics research has led to myriad technological advances, which have transformed society in the 20th century through the present day; a small list includes radio and television, computers, lasers, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and CAT scans, and the World Wide Web.

Physics is a hands-on discipline, and our students gain expertise not only in the classroom but also in the laboratory. They participate in activities ranging from the writing of realistic computer games to the modeling of financial activities, as well as the more traditional activities of physicists. Those trained in physics are found in many occupations, such as various fields of engineering, computer technology, health, environmental and earth sciences, communications, and science writing. A higher degree opens the possibility of creative research in industry, or teaching and research in colleges and universities. Outstanding and highly motivated students are offered special opportunities for honors work, independent study, summer laboratory research, internships, and other enhancements.