General Question

Sanger's avatar

Why are astronomy and physics, unlike other sciences, so popular?

Asked by Sanger (75points) May 13th, 2020

If I ask the general public if they tell me well-known and genius scientists, I always get physicists and astronomers (and, exceptionally, Darwin) from them. No chemist, biologist, geologist. No Fleming, no Pauling, no Pasteur, no Lavoisier, no Dawkins, no Mendeleev, no Linné, and so on. But always I get Einstein, Hawking, sometimes Sagan, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Planck and so on. Why?

Another thing is the number of TV programs devoted to physics and astronomy. Aren’t people interested in other sciences?

A Brief history of a Time, You are joking Mr. Feynman, The Elegant universe, The Principle of Relativity.
But I’ve never seen a popular science book on chemistry or geology in a bookstore (unless it was a school textbook). Biology is better, but still miserable than physics.

Does anyone know why this is so? And what do you think about it? Also, like most people, aren’t they interested in other sciences except physics and astronomy?

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7 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

Physics gets at the root causes for everything and astronomy looks at how the Universe is put together. Think of it as a quasi-religious interest.

Yellowdog's avatar

Astronomy is more interesting because the nighttime sky is beautiful and observable, as are things out in space And the idea of what’s out there excites our imagination. One does learn a lot of physics and other sciences along with it.

ragingloli's avatar

Because space is seen as the last great unknown, and physics is the only science that has the possibility of enabling humanity to explore it.

zenvelo's avatar

To a large extent Physics and Astronomy are definable, quantifiable, and measurable. There is plenty to explore, but those explorations result in definitive answers.

Biology, on the other hand, seems almost unpredictable. Who knows what that cell will do, and why it did this one time and that another time.

Caravanfan's avatar

I have several biology books that aren’t textbooks, but I see your point. It’s a good question.
But @zenvelo is by and large correct. Physics and astronomy are very math and logic oriented. Biology is chaotic.

josie's avatar

You are right about that.
Perhaps it is because the Cosmos is so vast that it seems impossible, so it is intriguing.
And physics seems to present the possibility of knowing the secret to everything, but it’s in mathematical code. People want to know the secret, so they try to break the code.

That’s a good question. A nice contrast to the usual bullshit.

gorillapaws's avatar

I don’t have an answer, but what makes your question even more puzzling is that I’m under the impression that most students spend a lot more time in their educations studying the Life Sciences rather than Physics and Astronomy. I was having a hard time finding statistics, but from anecdotes and intuition, I have to think the percentage of B.S. degrees in Physics and Astronomy has to be much lower than other sciences.

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