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Science: Physics

An overview of resources to get you started in studying or researching science topics.


"Bouncing a ball, flying a kite, blowing up a balloon -- to a child it's play, to a scientist it's physics."

— Arthlyn Ferguson

Whenever you turn on the lights, pour water into a glass, or hear a plane flying overhead, you are experiencing physics at work.  The principles of physics are all around you, and physics has played a major part of the creation of everything around you, including the computer you are using, the train you may take to work, and the oven you use to cook your food.

Search tips

1) Start with an overview for your topic.  For example, you can start with an encyclopedia such as Credo Reference or Gale Virtual Reference Library (see list of BPL resources below) to get a basic idea of what your topic is all about.

2) Once you have a general idea of what your topic is about, you can narrow your topic down by subcategory, such as "Astrophysics" or "Biophysics" under "Physics."

3) Search for more information on your topic, using journal article databases, government websites, organization websites, etc.  A good place to start is the Science in Context database which includes reference resources, experiments, statistics, magazine and academic journal articles, news articles, maps, multimedia,and external websites.

Different types of information that you can look for include:

  • Overview -- General description or outline of a topic
  • Statistics -- Collection of quantitative data
  • Evidence -- A visible sign of a phenomenon ; something which demonstrates that a phenomenon  or theory exists or is true
  • Guides -- "How-to" instructions or an outline of how to do something
  • News Articles -- Article from a newspaper or other news source; good source of current and local information and can be considered a primary source
  • Blogs -- Website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences
  • Journal Articles -- Article from a magazine or academic journal
  • Multimedia -- Videos, photographs, or audio resources
  • Reports -- Official documents from the government or other institution that give information about a particular subject
  • Interviews -- Reporting of meetings at which information is obtained from a person

For more information on conducting research on a topic, see from Case Western Reserve University.


Online Physics Resources

These links provide access to government and other reports, statistics,  and current developments for high school and college students as well as anyone interested in physics and physics-related fields.

National Science Foundation
Provides access to research, discoveries, and news in physics.

Physics and astronomy links from the University of Pennsylvania

Physics and Astronomy Online
Links to comprehensive reference material for physics and astronomy education and research.

Physics Central from the American Physical Society
Provides information about different concepts in physics as well as pictures demonstrating the concepts. 

Physics Discoveries
Learn about the latest discoveries in the field of physics from the National Science Foundation.
Includes research and development, technical reports, journal citations, databases, federal websites, and fact sheets.

Institute of Physics
Provides Information about different concepts of physics for adults and for children.  Features a database of physics websites that is searchable by age and knowledge level.

Resources at the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library provides access to indexes and full-text articles through the Electronic Resources page ( Many of these resources are available off-site to residents of Massachusetts. Suggested databases are listed below:



The catalog for the Boston Public Library is available at

Suggested subject headings:

For assistance with searching and locating items held by the Boston Public Library and other libraries in the Metro Boston Library Network, see