At this point in time, whenever "this point" may be (as it's all relative, right?), you may be wondering how the heck you're going to use any of this in life. The fact of the matter is that even if you don't use kinematics or projectiles as, for example, a cashier at Wal-Mart, you will still utilize the basic skills used in solving physics problems. As Mr. Pflaumer himself once said, "If you can understand physics, you can understand a healthcare plan." In the rest of the article, I'll explain some of the applications physics and the skills learned in solving physics have in everyday life.


Perhaps this is the most obvious example, so let's start with this. As a runner, I can explain a few of the ways physics effects how I perform. For starters, drag is a big deal. You seldom see a runner wearing a long, flowing cape, as the air resistance (friction) resulting from this huge piece of cloth really slows things down. If the cape issues a 40N force on your neck and shoulders (not too unrealistic) as you, a 40 kg member of the human race, run or jog or lope with a constant force being exerted by your legs (let's say a 160N force), we can determine by using the equation for acceleration that the garment decreases your acceleration by a whole meter per second per second. Over the course of ten meters - assuming you can keep up that kind of acceleration for that long - that's a whole 10 m/s lost. For this reason, we try to cut down on any excess clothing in races by wearing tank tops and those short shorts you know you love seeing me in. Now factor in friction caused by your shoes, internal energy generated by the burning of calories, Third Law pairs and so on, and you've got yourself an AP physics problem waiting to happen.

Comfort and Recreation

Although physics is probably the last thing you think of when you try to get comfortable, it really has a lot to do with getting cozy. Say you're snuggling up with a significant other to keep warm in a cold theater. Thermodynamics and dissipative energy are at work, keeping you two love birds comfortable. You could also apply physics when riding roller coasters: loops wouldn't work if it weren't for centripetal force, and the coaster's trains wouldn't even get moving without a Third Law (by the chain on the car, on the car by the chain, which pushes the cars uphill). Field trip, anyone?


Duh. Seriously. But really, physics applies to all sorts of sciences. Blood pressure, for example, measures the force with which your blood is pushing against your blood vessels with each heart beat. Physics plays a huge part in astronomy; building, testing, and launching rockets and shuttles on missions requires an immense understanding of physical sciences. Imagine if the guys who built the space shuttles hadn't fully understood dissipative energy. We'd have run into many more tragic accidents as they tried to figure out how to stop the shuttles from burning up on reentry, where heat is huge (in the thousands of degrees Fahrenheit). And in chemistry, you run into (of course) chemical energy all the time.