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Why do people think physics is so hard?

by Blahness
Tags: people, physics
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Schrodinger's Dog
#73
Feb2-07, 06:32 AM
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Quote Quote by pivoxa15 View Post
I am not a US citizen, When you mention GPA, do you mean their University or high school grades? SAT is taken by final year high school students looking for a place in Uni isn't it?
No neither am I, GPA at University, SAT scores to enter university, drop out rates, and a few other things.
joshtring
#74
Feb2-07, 07:07 AM
P: 3
i think physics is the abstract or may be the funda of the rest of science! you feel physics easy then you find yourself able to solve anything that happens in this this world!
pivoxa15
#75
Feb3-07, 03:34 AM
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Quote Quote by Schrodinger's Dog View Post
The tests are the standard SAT's and the GPA(grade point averages) Mathemeticians tend to gain in maths GPA's though. But it's not really apt to compare GPA in two different subjects, essentially it was a combined statistical average of who dropped out who stayed in GPA's and SAT's. Plus some other factors.
So you are saying maths students tend to get better marks at maths than physics students at physics?

SAT consists of general testing including essays so one would tend to favour physics wanna-be scoring higher overall than pure maths wanna-be's.

For me though, I am not particularly bright or good at either physics or maths but I do have a large curiosity for nature and abstract entities. However, I feel that in general there isn't near as many 'impossible' type problems in physics than in maths. In other words I feel that given sufficient time, I am able to do any solved problem in physics but with maths, I can very quickly find a problem that I can't do and after a while get a feeling of 'never' be able to solve this problem. So you can say I am more confident at physics than at maths.
pivoxa15
#76
Feb3-07, 03:36 AM
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Quote Quote by joshtring View Post
i think physics is the abstract or may be the funda of the rest of science! you feel physics easy then you find yourself able to solve anything that happens in this this world!
I agree. If you succeed in physics than I think you would success in any other 'practical' endeavour. 'practical' being associated to the real world.
Schrodinger's Dog
#77
Feb3-07, 03:43 AM
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Quote Quote by pivoxa15 View Post
So you are saying maths students tend to get better marks at maths than physics students at physics?

SAT consists of general testing including essays so one would tend to favour physics wanna-be scoring higher overall than pure maths wanna-be's.

For me though, I am not particularly bright or good at either physics or maths but I do have a large curiosity for nature and abstract entities. However, I feel that in general there isn't near as many 'impossible' type problems in physics than in maths. In other words I feel that given sufficient time, I am able to do any solved problem in physics but with maths, I can very quickly find a problem that I can't do and after a while get a feeling of 'never' be able to solve this problem. So you can say I am more confident at physics than at maths.

GPAs alone would not be representative. Is the point.
chromosome24
#78
May28-08, 03:01 AM
P: 24
the hard thing about physics is statistical mechanics! i have an assignment due tomorrow and im just about to gouge out my eyes.
doc.madani
#79
May28-08, 03:37 AM
P: 91
some aspects of physics is hard and requires a lot of knowledge but physics is really fun and pretty simple stuff.
malawi_glenn
#80
May28-08, 04:24 AM
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Quote Quote by doc.madani View Post
physics is really fun and pretty simple stuff.
quite arrogant from a person asking questions about Newtons laws of motion..
_Mayday_
#81
May28-08, 04:47 AM
P: 816
I haven't ventured that far into physics to be honest so I can't really comment on how difficult physics is after school. One of my teachers studied at a top university and said it was extremely difficult, but then another one of my old teachers said it was alright if you put the hours in. You can't really draw a conclusion from those two opinions really.

Personally I enjoy Physics, so I can live with it being difficult, some aspects I have covered are quite straight forward, like the Particle Physics we have covered, but that was in very straight forwards terms. The questions are alot harder when put in context with a real life scenario, and you have to figure out what a, b and c is, but the topics I have covered so far, when they are just numbers on a piece of paper, the formula are easily manipulated, and solved.

Overall I would say it is a difficult subject, in comparison with other subjects at the same level. If you say physics is very easy then surely you should have some grades or qualifications to back it up? As much as I would like to say it is straight forward, I will only know straight forward I find it in the summer when I get my results, or when I start university.

_Mayday_
Nano
#82
Jan22-09, 05:23 PM
P: 34
I see a lot of people are saying that if you're bad at math, you'll be bad at physics. However, I'm quite advanced for my grade level at math, and I also happen to enjoy it, so I assumed I would be good at physics as well. But that's not the case, I'm actually terrible at physics for reasons I don't understand.
So is there some inherent difference between math and physics that i'm overlooking. They both seem to rely heavily on problem solving.
humanino
#83
Jan22-09, 05:39 PM
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Quote Quote by Nano View Post
So is there some inherent difference between math and physics that i'm overlooking. They both seem to rely heavily on problem solving.
I too was much better at math at a young age. The thing with math is that you always know what you're talking about. Physics is actually more abstract ! In math, you cannot let the slightest detail ruin your work, you must pay attention to every little thing. In physics, the problem is not to focus on irrelevant features, you must know how to approximate reliably.
Nano
#84
Jan22-09, 05:51 PM
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Quote Quote by humanino View Post
In physics, the problem is not to focus on irrelevant features, you must know how to approximate reliably.
I'm not quite sure what you mean, could you give an example?

I find that I'm as bad at solving physics problems than I am at understanding conceptual questions. A lot of people say that physics is hard because it messes with your intuition. But don't all subjects do that on some level or the other? Eventually you learn the misconceptions you held were wrong, and you learn the new way. But I don't seem to be able to "absorb" the new intuition that physics presents. Manipulating equations is fine, but thinking through a foreign concept with a new set of rules they give you is challenging.
D H
#85
Jan22-09, 06:04 PM
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This thread has been raised from the dead four times now.

Quote Quote by humanino View Post
The thing with math is that you always know what you're talking about.
Whereas physicists don't have to know what they're talking about?

One difference between mathematics and physics is that physics is bound to reality (go ahead, humanino, give me the grumpy face back for making an enthymematically disparaging remark regarding mathematics; I deserve it). In physics one has to know what's important and what's important to ignore. Example: I'm working with some people new to a regime that I know very well. They kept adding a requirement to model an effect important in the regime in which they normally work. I kept striking this requirement because I know both regimes and I know the effect of interest is irrelevant. They finally got it when I made them realize that this capability is more than an order magnitude smaller than uncertainties in the dominant effects in this new regime. (Sorry to be so obtuse. I can't give out the details.) Knowing what throw away and what not to throw away is very important in physics.
humanino
#86
Jan22-09, 06:24 PM
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Quote Quote by Nano View Post
I'm not quite sure what you mean, could you give an example?
What is the volume of a cow ?
Roughly the same as the volume of a sphere of water with the same weight !
(It's well-known)
Quote Quote by D H View Post
Whereas physicists don't have to know what they're talking about?
Look, I'm a physicist !
What I mean is, a circle is a circle, we all agree on all properties of circles, no matter which definition we use of a circle (as long as they are equivalent to each other). But there is no circle anywhere in Nature. We know the mathematical objects we use to describe reality, but we should not forget that they are not reality. We don't know what is out there for sure.
Hurkyl
#87
Jan22-09, 06:25 PM
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Quote Quote by D H View Post
Knowing what throw away and what not to throw away is very important in physics.
And it's not in mathematics? From one perspective, this is the entire point of calculus, and the primary proof technique of real analysis!

Knowing what to throw away is important even in cases (apparently) far removed from the idea of approximation. For example, the theory of rings can be quite difficult and complex. One of the most important advances was Emmy Noether's observation that most rings of interest satisfy a certain technical condition which greatly simplifies the theory (we now call such rings Noetherian, in tribute). Knowing to consider only the important Noetherian case makes it much, much easier to deal with many of the questions that arise in ring theory / algebraic geometry.
Wellesley
#88
Jan22-09, 06:42 PM
P: 276
A lot of people say that physics is hard because it messes with your intuition. But don't all subjects do that on some level or the other?
At least for me, some topics in Physics are hard to grapple with conceptually.....For example the speed of light (and it's limitations). The traditional way of thinking (think Star Trek, Sci-Fi and Star Wars) has made the reality much harder to grasp. Everyone (who hasn't taken Physics) thinks objects can be accelerated past c, and that's what we group up thinking. This also makes learning Physics much harder than understanding how to manipulate equations.
Winzer
#89
Jan22-09, 07:02 PM
P: 605
In my years of schooling I have found mathematics easier to learn then physics. Physics is a skill that I have developed. A lot of hard work has gone into it and I am proud to say it is not in vain.

Its funny. I considered going into pure and applied math for college study. But I found physics to be even more challenging; it was always the one science class I would get a B in High School. In addition I was not satisfied with my physical understanding of the world at the time. So for reasons of being stubborn and seeking perfection I joined the physics tank--no regrets.

Yes, I think physics is hard. I still have a long way to go with physics and I HOPE it is hard as hell.
ice109
#90
Jan22-09, 07:30 PM
P: 1,705
because they've never done it. they see all these funny looking symbols and get scared.

whenever anyone comments on my genius with regards to my studying physics i always emphasize how dumb i actually am and how i could teach anyone that was interested.


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