UNDERSTANDING PHYSICS – Part 1 MOTION, SOUND & HEAT Isaac Asimov Motion, Sound, and Heat From the ancient Greeks through the Age of Newton, the problems of motion, sound, and heat preoccupied the scientific imagination. These centuries gave birth to the basic concepts from which modern physics has evolved. In this first volume of his celebrated UNDERSTANDING PHYSICS, Isaac Asimov deals with this fascinating, momentous stage of scientific development with an authority and clarity that add further lustre to an eminent reputation. Demanding the minimum of specialised knowledge from his audience, he has produced a work that is the perfect supplement to the student’s formal textbook, as well se offering invaluable illumination to the general reader. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ISAAC ASIMOV is generally regarded as one of this country's leading writers of science and science fiction. He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University and was Associate Professor of Bio-chemistry at Boston University School of Medicine. He is the author of over two hundred books, including The Chemicals of Life, The Genetic Code, The Human Body, The Human Brain, and The Wellsprings of Life. The Search for Knowledge From Philosophy to Physics The scholars of ancient Greece were the first we know of to attempt a thoroughgoing investigation of the universe--a systematic gathering of knowledge through the activity of human reason alone. Those who attempted this rationalistic search for understanding, without calling in the aid of intuition, inspiration, revelation, or other non-rational sources of information, were the philosophers (from Greek words meaning "lovers of wisdom").
Philosophy could turn within, seeking an understanding of human behavior, of ethics and morality, of motivations and responses. Or it might turn outside to an investigation of the universe beyond the intangible wall of the mind---an investigation, in short of 'nature." Those philosophers who turned toward the second alternative were the natural philosophers , and for many centuries after the palmy days of Greece the study of the phenomena of nature continued to be called natural philosophy. The modern word that b used in its place-science, from a Latin word meaning "to know" did not come into popular use until well into the nineteenth century. Even today, the highest university degree given for achievement in the sciences is generally that of “Doctor of philosophy." The word "natural" is of Latin derivation, so the term "natural philosophy" stems half from Latin and half from Greek a combination usually frowned upon by purists. The Greek word for "natural" is physikos , so one might more precisely speak of physical philosophy to describe what we now call science. The term physics, therefore, is a brief form of physical philosophy or natural philosophy sad, in its original meaning, included all of science.