Once upon a time, not so long ago, our eyes were our only way of seeing the world. But increasingly sophisticated instruments developed by physicists have opened a window onto sights that our ancestors would never have dreamt of.
Microscopes have exposed the inner workings of our cells, making modern medicine possible. The latest electron microscopes can even zoom in to the level of individual molecules and atoms, whilst revolutionary imaging techniques such as MRI scanners or X-ray machines allow doctors to spy on brain activity or broken bones.
Meanwhile, progressively more powerful telescopes mean that we can explore our universe from the comfort of home. Space telescopes like Hubble have sent back thousands of stunning glimpses of far flung stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae.
You may not need to look further than the end of your nose to see a physics instrument at work. If, like over half the population, you wear glasses or contact lenses, you can thank physicists’ understanding of optics for bringing your world into focus.
More than this, physics gives us a deeper understanding of invisible processes, such as the way gravity works or how bats use ultrasound, enabling us to see our world like never before.