Why do people think physics is so hard?


by Blahness
Tags: people, physics
Mmx
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#19
Feb9-06, 06:02 AM
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Actually i think physics is harder then any subject? Cause 1 of them is using the right formula and term when solving the question. Actually getting the answer is not the point. The point is to understand the question and how to solve it and why.

Im starting to become crazy said my fren cost read too much of physics. I wonder how a good professor of physics teacher attitude looks like? But honestly i never got good grades for my physics and always get close mark to fail.
Kazza_765
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#20
Feb9-06, 07:14 PM
P: 166
Applied problem solving is why I almost failed second year maths at Uni. Not because I can't do it, but because there wasn't any of it. We would get questions like 'Use xxxxxx's method to solve yyyyyy' and so on, or else it would be completely obvious what method is needed to solve the problem. Solving problems like this IMO requires no intelligence, all you are doing is going through a bunch of steps you have been taught in class, its like a friggin algorithm. The only way you can get it wrong is if you can't remember one of the steps, or you make a silly numerical error. So I just lost interest and stopped going.
kant
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#21
Feb9-06, 11:19 PM
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Quote Quote by Blahness
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
I don t think physic( or math ) should be that hard. Perhaps, the problem is more to do with the teachers or the books in explaning.
Pengwuino
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#22
Feb9-06, 11:21 PM
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Quote Quote by kant
I don t think physic( or math ) should be that hard. Perhaps, the problem is more to do with the teachers or the books in explaning.
Subjects are hard or easy based on what the subject is, not what people think it should be.
kant
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#23
Feb10-06, 12:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Pengwuino
Subjects are hard or easy based on what the subject is, not what people think it should be.
Hmm... Well, what subject is hard? Even the most complicated ideas has an origin. Many "abstract" ideas could be understood in the most simpliest terms. I think people are just making things complicated for themselves.
Hurkyl
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#24
Feb10-06, 04:59 AM
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I don t think physic( or math ) should be that hard. Perhaps, the problem is more to do with the teachers or the books in explaning.
But not, say, students' attitudes towards the subject?
Pengwuino
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#25
Feb10-06, 05:14 AM
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Quote Quote by kant
Hmm... Well, what subject is hard? Even the most complicated ideas has an origin. Many "abstract" ideas could be understood in the most simpliest terms. I think people are just making things complicated for themselves.
Understanding something in physics is like, 0.1% of the problem. People don't earn Phd's because they understand a lot about physics, they recieve them because they KNOW physics. These people can do incredible calculations and find so much information and make these predictions. One time my professor noted certain calculations he had to do as a graduate student that literally took weeks to do.

I think one of the last things physicists do is go around looking to make things MORE complicated then they already are. Reminds me of Einstein....
kant
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#26
Feb10-06, 05:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Hurkyl
But not, say, students' attitudes towards the subject?
Hmm... perhaps the student attitude might have an effect.
kant
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#27
Feb10-06, 06:45 AM
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Quote Quote by Pengwuino
Understanding something in physics is like, 0.1% of the problem.
what type of understand do you mean? The type of the understand for me is being able to see the physics in the equatons. Equations themselves are like physicals analogies. It is probable the worse thing to do is to try to apply a math equation blindly. For example, I can imagine faradays law as being: a magnatic flux tho a close loop of wire would induce an E field around it. The idea is very simply, and the explaination is short. There are longer explaintion of course, but it would still be finite in extents. if i was little more curious, i would ask questions like the direction of the induce E field, or what happen when the area the loop are changes etc.. A verbal would never be able to convey the profunity and the extensive reach of all the implication of faradays law. This is why i think understand is being able to see the physics within equations. Does that mean thinking purely in equations? no.
sbalian
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#28
Dec16-06, 07:42 PM
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I'm not too sure about physics at the post-graduate level, but this is what I think based on my experience doing undergraduate physics.

Firstly, mathematical competence is essential in physics. Most people who struggle with the maths find physics difficult. Secondly, physics text should be read slowly and critically and one should not rush to the conclusions. As long as you're good in maths and develop a stepwise approach towards any kind of problem, you won't struggle much with the physics. Those who lack these skills find physics difficult.

Seto
pivoxa15
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#29
Dec17-06, 02:07 AM
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In high school and undergrad university and speaking on behalf of the mainstream population, the reason why most students find physics is hard is because they don't understand the mathematics (which at those levels also means problem solving, including not knowing the importance of knowing the definitions). However, if a student understands the maths than the physics should come out easily, provided the student is keen at physics. In this way, good at maths => good at physics but not necessaily vice versa. Hence mathematics is actually harder than physics.

The hardest physics I have done is electromagnetism with vector calculus. My vector calculus is shaky at best and as a result I did very poorly in that subject and still feel I do not understand electromagnetism even after the course. However, I could undertand the first year course on electromagnetism because the maths was much simpler.

The answer to why people think physics is so hard is because people think maths is so hard.
Moonbear
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#30
Dec17-06, 08:54 AM
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Quote Quote by Hurkyl View Post
But not, say, students' attitudes towards the subject?
I think that has a LOT to do with it, the same with math classes. For some reason, people tell kids those are hard classes, so they go into it thinking it's going to be hard, and surprise, they then think it's hard.

I think the real difference between students who will succeed or not succeed in these classes is that those who succeed look at a "hard" class as a challenge to be tackled, while those who don't succeed are the ones who use "it's supposed to be hard" as an excuse to not try very hard at all. Of course there are people who just haven't yet developed their analytical thinking skills, so aren't ready for these classes.

And, I agree with the earlier comments on lack of problem solving skills. Part of this seems to stem from kids being handed their homework "problems" to solve, and they think if they can mimic the steps the teacher took to solve very similar problems in class, that they know how to solve problems. There's not much emphasis put on solving novel problems. And, this isn't something that should be covered in only math and science classes. This is a general life skill that really needs to be developed in everyone. But, the reality is that many people never learn that skill.

I can relate to this in my daily work. A lot of what distinguishes those who run labs from those who just work in labs is their level of problem solving skills. The problems that come my way aren't neat little textbook questions, they're real world problems with no fixed solution; you have to assess what the problem is, what might be causing it, and hunt through your mental toolbox for something that might work to solve it.
moose
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#31
Dec17-06, 09:38 PM
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I remember when I was making a program in which I modeled a human eye to follow the movements of the mouse at a set depth. To make it look accurate to life, I had to make it so that the size of the iris changed, and so that it would "stretch" or actually shrink kinda, when it got to the sides, and so forth. I didn't want to use any trig in the program, so I used some vector stuff. Several students in the class were amazed that I was actually able to apply something that I learned in a math class.
JasonRox
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#32
Dec17-06, 09:41 PM
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What bothers me the most is people who major in Mathematics and Physics, and talk as if they're extraordinary people and are super intelligent just because of their major.
FrogPad
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#33
Dec17-06, 10:22 PM
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Quote Quote by Blahness View Post
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
I think most people associate 'genius' with physics, because of the amount of time that must be invested in the subject. I can only speak for myself here, but I feel (and I think most others do) that it takes time to absorb the material and believe in it. The ideas are very abstract, and simply take time to partially comprehend (let alone fully).

I mean how can one just be introduced to emag. and understand it the first go around. The concept of electric fields are somewhat daunting, but you begin to appreciate them later. I mean if you can visualize electric fields, and the superposition of many sources without a lot of practice then all I have to say is damn. For example the concept of mutual inductance took me awhile before I could actually grasp it. Yeah I could somewhat understand it in an introductory physics course, but not really... it wasn't until I actually understood the math until it really made sense. It's not necessarily 'hard', it just takes TIME (at least it does for me). The same can be said for playing a musical instrument, learning to paint, etc... it's hard because it requires investment, and some people just can't do it.
bomba923
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#34
Dec18-06, 11:30 PM
P: 736
Hmm...
From my experience,

1) When students/teachers/people say a class is "hard"...
the students tend to lower their standards/expectations and performance somewhat.
Consequently, they don't do too well...and call the class "hard". (*The cycle begins anew.*)

2) Blahness--you are a high school student, right?

So then, the question should be
"Why do people think HS physics is hard?"

Quite an interesting misjudgment on the side of those people...
but all I'll comment on here (for now ) is the sorry state of
American public grade school education
(and some of your other threads
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=99844
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=96967
and one of mine
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=104494)
Robert Mak
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#35
Dec19-06, 12:16 AM
P: 29
Quote Quote by JasonRox View Post
What bothers me the most is people who major in Mathematics and Physics, and talk as if they're extraordinary people and are super intelligent just because of their major.
Me too!!!
3trQN
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#36
Dec19-06, 01:19 AM
P: 349
It is hard...


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