Hey future physicists!
When you explore a career in physics, you're bound to learn some new terms. We've included this glossary in case you encounter anything unfamiliar.
The environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship. Many people say they work in “academia” if they work at a college or university.
The field of science that aims to discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars.
A field that designs technology, such as insulin pumps, to improve human health.
A field that creates technology that mimics the actions of living organisms. An example is an insulin-pump or a prosthetic hand.
Tiny little tubes of carbon atoms that are very tough and hard to break.
Like a chemical fingerprint, a chemical signature is a unique pattern produced by an analytical instrument identifying molecular makeup in the test sample.
Someone that helps and advises other people and companies.
A force that counteracts gravity and causes the universe to expand in size.
The stuff in space that has gravity, but it is unlike anything scientists have ever seen before. Together, dark matter and dark energy make up 95% of the universe.
The head of the college, kind of like a school principal.
Electrical components that only allow the electricity to pass through them in one direction.
When a material emits light in response to being exposed to an electrical field.
Planets that have been discovered outside of our Solar System.
In academic settings, when people say “fellowship,” they are generally referring to an award of money given to a student to pay for his or her academic pursuits. A fellowship is similar to a scholarship.
Fiber optic cable
Made of thin strands of glass and is used to transfer data signals using light for applications like high-speed internet.
When someone works for many different companies at the same time, under many contracts.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a government office that works to make sure other companies are doing what they say they will do.
A substance made of carbon atoms arranged in an interlocking hexagon pattern.
Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.
A field of study that includes arts, literature, and history.
A type of law that deals with protecting and enforcing the rights of the creators and owners of inventions, writing, music, designs, and other works.
A machine that works by merging two or more sources of light to create an interference wave pattern, which can be measured and analyzed to see how the lights interact.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, built beneath the ground along the border of Switzerland and France.
Stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. At LIGO, scientists study, detect, and measure gravitational waves in space.
A part of artificial intelligence (AI) where we give machines data and let them use it to learn for themselves and do tasks not specifically programmed.
A branch of medicine that deals with preparing treatment machines for clinical use by measuring and modeling how radiation interacts with tissues in the body.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a really famous university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for math, science, and engineering.
The behavior of light and nanoparticles on the nanoscale.
Very small particles. Particles on the “nano” scale which are 1 billion times smaller than a millimeter.
Involves the study and manipulation of extremely small particles, such as individual atoms and molecules.
A subatomic particle that is very similar to an electron, but has no electrical charge and a very small mass, which might even be zero. Neutrinos are some of the most abundant particles in the universe.
A patent is given to an inventor so that they are the only person who can produce their invention for a specific amount of time.
Offering courses in many subjects, especially vocational or technical subjects (like engineering, physics, computer science).
A field of astronomy in which scientists locate astronomical objects on the celestial sphere, as seen at a particular date, time, and location on Earth.
A job that happens after you graduate from college or university with a bachelor’s degree.
Smaller particles that make up subatomic particles like protons and neutrons.
A type of treatment that uses intense beams of energy to destroy cancer cells.
The study of how the properties of solid materials result from their atomic-scale properties.
A machine that breaks the light from a single material into its component colors the way a prism splits white light into a rainbow.
A broad term used to group together the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
The United Nations is a group of multiple countries with goals of maintaining international peace and security.
Wall Street is a real street in New York City, but also is the hub of all financial markets in the U.S. (stock exchange, bond market, large banks, etc.).