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Why do people think physics is so hard? 
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#1
Feb706, 01:42 PM

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I commonly hear the words "Physics" and "Genius" combined in many sentences, which seems to be a bit of a misnomer, considering that most of physics is rather simple, and only gets complicated once you have to apply hundreds of possible changing factors in a problem.
Or am I just being pompous? X.x 


#2
Feb706, 02:02 PM

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#3
Feb706, 03:04 PM

P: 106

So I'm being naive.
Thought so. thank you. 


#4
Feb706, 03:21 PM

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Why do people think physics is so hard?
So not only do you need to start from an ingenious and simple idea, you also need to translate it into hardcore mathematics. marlon 


#5
Feb706, 03:40 PM

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It's all relative to the reference frame.



#6
Feb706, 03:57 PM

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I think learning physics is hard compared to mathematics because in a physics textbook, a minimum of explanation is usually given to justify an equation. So to understand it really, you have to do the inbtw steps, which are somtimes very complicated, and other times you simply don't have enough information to do the steps and you're just wasting your time.
The best example of this taken from my life is when I tried to understand Optics. There are tons of approximations made btw equations and you have to find them and justify them if you're to understand the subject (imo). I would often spend an entire day studying a single page of the book. Of course, at university level, it is not permissible to take so much time to learn material so I had to stop. As a result, I feel I know nothing more about optics than before I took the class. Well look at that I'm ranting again. 


#7
Feb706, 04:10 PM

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I think that a lot of people don't realize that problem solving is a skill. They think they're supposed to be learning nothing but math in their math classes, learning nothing but physics in their physics classes, et cetera. So, these people never learn how to solve problems.



#8
Feb706, 04:51 PM

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What do you mean Hurkyl? In the classes you learn new material, then you are sent home to do homework. This is when you develop your problem solving skills. It is like that since you began school in the first grade.



#9
Feb706, 05:54 PM

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back on topic: Physics and math are abstract. Simple word problems are the start of most people's misery. Physics and math require abstract thinking and creative problemsolving skills. Most of the engineers that I have studied and worked with have their thoughts bound in concrete. They tend to want plugandchug (their words, not mine) methods for solving technical problems. I disagree that the typical homework problems assigned from the firstgrade on stress problemsolving skills. Very few homework problems even stress finding and using the appropriate plugandchug technique. 


#10
Feb706, 06:23 PM

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#11
Feb706, 06:41 PM

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I can't count the number of times I've had to suggest "What's the definition of that term?" when someone is completely stuck on a problem... and sometimes writing down the definition turns out to be all they need to do. I think some people focus so much on "Okay, I need to do this step, then this step, etc." and never bother to wonder about things like "Why would I think to use this step?" Then, they learn new things, and are expected to be able to apply the most basic of problem solving techniques to work out the simple things for themselves... and become completely lost. 


#12
Feb706, 08:09 PM

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I agree with Hurkyl  in high school, I took calc I and physics I at the same time in high school and being able to relate them helped me learn both.
edit: However, the math just gets harder after that... 


#13
Feb706, 10:42 PM

P: 21

This difficulty seems to be one of the big problems with people who want to understand this better and don't have the math background to "see" what the math points at. I don't even think that some ideas can be "thought" without using math to "think" them, since they are so far from our physical experience that there are no accurate analogies available to form those ideas. This is the basis for confusion about things like wave/particle duality, multiple dimensions and the need of some people to try to argue points in language when there would be fewer arguments if they could express those ideas with math, (here they either work or they don't). Very, very hard to move from everyday experience to that sort of mathematical imagination where you can actually relate the math to a vision in your mind and have it be in accord with what is known about reality. I have always wondered if those people who are deeply involved in expanding into new ideas feel as if they are writing "mathematical fiction", ( a plot, a few "characters" and hopefully a good ending), when they are developing their ideas and trying to tie it all to something that is "real" and testable. 


#14
Feb806, 02:17 AM

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#15
Feb806, 02:13 PM

P: 106

vanesch: Seems more like a signature of profession than a trademark, <laugh>.
Problem Solving, aka Applied Problems, are very rare in most of my math classes. But when we get them, they take about... 3 seconds longer than a "normal" math problem. The 3 seconds involves writing down the information that is given, and figuring out what the question is actually asking. However, many students in my graduationrequired physics have issues applying the math they know into reallife situations. As Hurkyl (implied? I tend to misinterpret), they seem to be inable to figure out the "why", or how to translate worded information into an equation. Speaking of which, what's the best way to go about proving that I should be in an AP physics class, instead of this normal one? I'm extremely bored intellectually, especially knowing that we're not learning anything more advanced then newtonian motion and thermodynamics. X.x' "Conceptual Physics" is what it's called, and very light on the math, regular physics class usually is. </YodaIam> 


#16
Feb806, 03:55 PM

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Go see your teacher. Once he sees you're Yoda, he'll understand you've already mastered the concept of force. *podom pshhh!*



#17
Feb806, 06:18 PM

P: 106

Unfortunately, he has a mosaic of Yoda posted on the side of his classroom, and I'm about 3.2 times less ugly then the picture, so that wouldn't pass.
X.x' 


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