Some of the most important discoveries till date in the field of physics, such as fire and the wheel, were made by the common man. Therefore, it can be said that the whole of mankind has made a combined effort to develop physics as a science. No individual can be given the title of Father of Physics as such.
However, we can consider those scientists who have made major contributions single-handedly, which have not been matched by anyone else. Among such scientists, Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein have all been termed as Fathers of Physics in popular culture.
Known by most people simply as Galileo, he is known best for the contributions he made to observational astronomy. He is also known for his theoretical as well as experimental work based on the motion of bodies. Galileo conducted a number of experiments with pendulums. He is said to be among the first who understood sound frequency. He put forth the basic principle of relativity regarding there being no absolute rest or absolute motion. This provided the basis for Newton’s laws of motion and was integral to Einstein’s theories of relativity.
Sir Isaac Newton
Considered as one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of all time, Newton is best known for his law of gravitation and three laws of motion. His principles have been used for the derivation of various other concepts and formulae in the field of physics. His contribution to physics has formed the basis of our understanding of engineering, mechanics, the universe as a whole, among many other fields of study.
Einstein agreed with Newton about most things, except for how very large and distant objects are affected by gravity. He came up with two theories in this regard – general relativity and special relativity. The general theory attempted to explain how time and space could be affected by gravity and motion. The special theory demonstrated how nothing could move faster than light.
Thus, all three men could be described as Fathers of Physics in their own right.