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No one will crush my dreams...

by counterpoint
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counterpoint
#1
Dec2-09, 04:59 PM
P: 16
I am in a very sticky situation with academia, at the moment, in order to graduate on time I might not be able to major in Physics. My options have dissipated to a few alternative options, so here we shall ponder on my desire to learn physics. I want to work on Quantum Gravity and Advanced Mechanics, I have a desire to learn and apply number theory with linear algebra to models that are related to relativity and M-Theory.

At the moment, I am left with the option of choosing a meager and insignificant physics or mathematics minor. Not Both! And the only options are the following:

1. International Studies w/Physics minor.
2. Information Systems w/Physics minor or w/Mathematics minor.
3. Any Liberal Arts w/Physics or w/Mathematics

Here is my point, In order to make substantial advances in Physics, we will need the use of mathematicians, neuroscientists, theoretical computer scientists, theoretical physicists, and many other specialists in both quantum computing, supercomputing, A.I etc. Without the knowledge of computer science, I see very limited progress in Physics

This is my question, If I were to major in any ordinary liberal arts studies, and I get to minor in physics and not in mathematics! What good is it to me?! Which minor would you pick? I will most likely have to work a day job and learn Physics on my own! This is a possibility, or I can mop the floors at Princeton, teach myself physics and math, and by getting in I might be able to get closer to any professor or even students that might get to read my work. But first I need at least the basics. i just passed introductory physics and calc.1.

I'm willing to mop the floors at Cambridge or Princeton! I'm dead serious....

I'm still young, but I am afraid I might be too old that i might not play an important role in the field that I know I was meant to do. None of this will stop me, I know there is something in Gravity that has yet to be figured out and I might be able to help (not discover or become famouse), I can be good at this, but alas...fate thinks otherwise.
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fluidistic
#2
Dec2-09, 05:09 PM
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P: 3,225
Before enclosing yourself with the 3 choices you provided, why can't you major in Physics? This would obviously be the best choice for you.
I'll let others answer your question since I'm not enough qualified.
counterpoint
#3
Dec2-09, 05:47 PM
P: 16
There is a simple answer to your question. Because I am, for better or worse, an International student in the US.

As an international F1 visa student you must have enough money to pay for an education and I chose business, naively. Sophomore year I discovered Quantum Theory and I had a very strong epiphany, I questioned the foundations of everything that surrounded me. I knew that there was something in Quantum Mechanics, I can't explain it, but the more I read into it; the more I understood, and when I read David Bohm's work, I realized this could change the world.

After my classical mechanics course, I was a bit distheartened by Newton's archaic methods. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that in this world, Newtonian physics is the law. But, it wasn't until I met Einstein's relativity almost at the end of the final lecture, It clicked! And so after researching I've found great evidence to prove that there are gaps that need to be worked on, but they require extensive work, these ideas are still nothing, until I am certain that they can be applied.

Because of monetary implications, for better or worse, I am in a crossroads and unfortunately, the physics academic route is out of the question for now. The good news is that I will be able to stay in the US (I am from a third world country) after I graduate...voila.

The interesting and ever redundant question of: "Why business?" Well, it goes back to my place of origin. In Latin America, physics is not even taught in high school, most kids graduate and run their father's business, that's their dream, their only desire in life is to make money and live comfortably. Certainly, I was uncomfortable with such ordinary expectations, and yet I can still chose to live a noble life in physics! But in Latin America, you cannot. My options are limited and I hated business, I thought I wanted to be like all my other friends and study what was "safe", what "society would respect". Gladly, I left that place and decided to move to a country that embraces creativity and scientific research.

eri
#4
Dec2-09, 05:48 PM
P: 981
No one will crush my dreams...

I'm going to assume you're attending a college that will make you finish your degree soon and you don't have time to complete a physics major. Have you considered transferring to a school that would let you take the extra time? You'll loose some credits in the process, but you can get a physics degree and maybe some research experience that way. Learning physics on your own won't get you anywhere with coursework or a degree to say you really learned it.
Gear300
#5
Dec2-09, 05:56 PM
P: 1,133
Quote Quote by counterpoint View Post
Gladly, I left that place and decided to move to a country that embraces creativity and scientific research.
No country embraces creativity and scientific research.
kote
#6
Dec2-09, 06:03 PM
P: 871
If you're interested in continuing to study physics independently, philosophy is your best option out of those choices. Philosophy actually teaches you a lot about physics and is very relevant if you take the right courses. It is also better equipped to teach you about some of the more fundamental questions physics raises. I wrote my undergrad philosophy thesis on quantum mechanics and had it co-read by the physics department.

Of course, I have no idea how this may or may not fit in with any of your other goals like getting a job or going to grad school.

For reference here is some of the stuff philosophers write about physics:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/view...s/physics.html
counterpoint
#7
Dec2-09, 06:36 PM
P: 16
I had thought of philosophy with Math minor. However, I do need to support myself, and I need to solve problems...mathematically. Philosophy supplements these findings, but it is in the equations where we find the truth. I have to know all the mathematics that I could use...

If I were to take System Analysis, I can still apply for jobs that are science related, can't I? Computer Science would take me longer and so would a proper degree in physics.

I am twenty four, about to graduate, I always had trouble with school. I am not your honor role student and I dreaded mathematics until I discovered physics, it wasn't until then and later on with computer science, that mathematics is very essential to the understanding of mechanics, rates of change, and computation. Phenomena can only be described mathematically in order for it to be experimental and tested out. Thank you for your advices, I truly am at a crossroads, but I will learn physics even if it takes me another degree.

But, am I too old? I shall give myself 15 years, until I do something substantial that I can write my name on a research paper and do something that matters. But it's not even these goals of writing books that drive me, it is an innate passion to discover these gaps in gravity, I believe many answers lie in this simple and yet complex phenomena
kote
#8
Dec2-09, 07:45 PM
P: 871
Quote Quote by counterpoint View Post
Philosophy supplements these findings, but it is in the equations where we find the truth.
Philosophy is the study of where you can find the truth and how much of the truth you potentially have access to .
Quote Quote by counterpoint View Post
But, am I too old? I shall give myself 15 years, until I do something substantial that I can write my name on a research paper and do something that matters.
You're definitely not too old for anything at 24. You'll have to think about what would qualify as something that matters though. Have you read any theoretical physics journals? Would writing an article of that (high) quality count as mattering? I don't mean to imply an answer. Generally it takes years of formal study to reach that level though, and it's typically professors at research universities who will be doing most of the publishing. Having an understanding is one thing, but earning credibility in academia is much more difficult.
counterpoint
#9
Dec2-09, 08:20 PM
P: 16
one is conditioned and mechanical, while the other is artistic and unexpected :)
twofish-quant
#10
Dec2-09, 10:07 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by counterpoint View Post
I am in a very sticky situation with academia, at the moment, in order to graduate on time I might not be able to major in Physics. My options have dissipated to a few alternative options, so here we shall ponder on my desire to learn physics.
In order to do any sort of physics research you'll have to do attend graduate school, and so you should focus on whatever you need to get admitted. That seems to suggest a general liberal arts undergraduate with a minor in physics, but you'll have to do as much as you can to structure your coursework so that it looks impressive to some graduate school. The thing about general liberal arts majors is that they generally have fewer required courses which means that you can weight things toward physics.

Also get some undergraduate research......

Also if you get into grad school, most things are paid.

[QUOTE[I want to work on Quantum Gravity and Advanced Mechanics, I have a desire to learn and apply number theory with linear algebra to models that are related to relativity and M-Theory. [/QUOTE]

Ummmm..... Careful here. The two problems are:

1) there are some topics which can take you into a beautiful abstract world that is disconnected from reality, and this generally doesn't advance physics very much. Ultimately nature and observation drives physics, and you may end up spending ten years of your life working on M-theory only to find that it's *TOTALLY WRONG*. That may be a good thing, but you need to work on a theory knowing that your destiny may be the person that shows that it just can't work.

2) It's bad to get disconnected from reality in another sense in that you have to eat. One thing that you will find is that unless you are independently wealthy you *have* to have some business sense to do anything in a market economy. Market economies work with supply and demand, and there are some areas that are oversupplied and some areas that are undersupplied.

Here is my point, In order to make substantial advances in Physics, we will need the use of mathematicians, neuroscientists, theoretical computer scientists, theoretical physicists, and many other specialists in both quantum computing, supercomputing, A.I etc. Without the knowledge of computer science, I see very limited progress in Physics
One reason physicists tend to be in high demand is that in order to do anything substantial in physics you have to have some computer skills, so there are a lot of self-taught programmers in physics.

I will most likely have to work a day job and learn Physics on my own!
If you can get into graduate school, you'll get paid. Also, don't try to learn physics on your own. To get something useful done, you'll have to find some community that you can interact with.

I'm still young, but I am afraid I might be too old that i might not play an important role in the field that I know I was meant to do.
You need to go to graduate school or have some equivalent. You are sounding like an wided-eye undergraduate, but you need something equivalent to graduate school to burn off some of the enthusiasm.

Here are some facts:

1) Physics is tough. Pretty much every graduate student goes in thinking that they are going to revolutionize physics. By the time you leave, you will discover how hard that is, and that you are going to be lucky to graduate with *ANY* useful result. Research is a slow, painful, agonizing process.

2) Whether you discover something earth-shaking is largely a matter of luck. No one knows if M-theory or string-theory is the right approach, and it could be a total dead end, that's why we need people to study it. It could be that you get dramatically lucky, and you get to plant the flag on top of the mountain. But probably not. If could be that the there is some critical missing piece that we aren't going to be able to get for the next 50 years.

None of this will stop me, I know there is something in Gravity that has yet to be figured out and I might be able to help (not discover or become famouse), I can be good at this, but alas...fate thinks otherwise.
There is a lot about gravity that we don't understand.

However, one good thing about grad school is that it teaches you to make do with whatever cards you get. Things will *never* work out the way that you want.
counterpoint
#11
Dec2-09, 10:16 PM
P: 16
Quote Quote by kote View Post
Philosophy is the study of where you can find the truth and how much of the truth you potentially have access to .
Plato, the great Greek philosopher, wrote a series of `Dialogues' which summarized many of the things which he had learned from his teacher, who was the philosopher Socrates. One of the most famous of these Dialogues is the `Allegory of the Cave'. In this allegory, people are chained in a cave so that they can only see the shadows which are cast on the walls of the cave by a fire. To these people, the shadows represent the totality of their existence - it is impossible for them to imagine a reality which consists of anything other than the fuzzy shadows on the wall.

However, some prisoners may escape from the cave; they may go out into the light of the sun and behold true reality. When they try to go back into the cave and tell the other captives the truth, they are mocked as madmen.
twofish-quant
#12
Dec2-09, 10:32 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by counterpoint View Post
I knew that there was something in Quantum Mechanics, I can't explain it, but the more I read into it; the more I understood, and when I read David Bohm's work, I realized this could change the world.
It could, then again, maybe he's wrong. Also you need to read up on alternative ideas for how QM is structured. One thing about brilliant theorists is that you find out how many of their ideas turn out to be totally, utterly incorrect. But they come up with so many ideas that one of them is bound to be useful.

After my classical mechanics course, I was a bit distheartened by Newton's archaic methods. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that in this world, Newtonian physics is the law. But, it wasn't until I met Einstein's relativity almost at the end of the final lecture, It clicked!
The problem with general relativity is that for most problems, you can't easily get a prediction without going through a ton of math, and if you can't get a prediction, then the theory is useless. Also it could be that Einstein is basically wrong about how gravity works.

And so after researching I've found great evidence to prove that there are gaps that need to be worked on, but they require extensive work, these ideas are still nothing, until I am certain that they can be applied.
There are tons and tons of problems that are totally unexplained, but it's after you start working on them that you find out *why* those gaps are there.

Because of monetary implications, for better or worse, I am in a crossroads and unfortunately, the physics academic route is out of the question for now. The good news is that I will be able to stay in the US (I am from a third world country) after I graduate...voila.
I don't see why. Most physics graduate schools need large amounts of cheap labor so they'll pay you to take courses. If you don't have immigration issues and can stay in the US, I don't see why you can't get a job and then finish your degree, or maybe transfer to a cheaper school.

Certainly, I was uncomfortable with such ordinary expectations, and yet I can still chose to live a noble life in physics!
Ummmm..... Physics is a business. Science is a business. The reason physics gets money in the US is that people figure (correctly I think) that if they give money to physicists that they'll end up making things that will end up making money.

My options are limited and I hated business, I thought I wanted to be like all my other friends and study what was "safe", what "society would respect". Gladly, I left that place and decided to move to a country that embraces creativity and scientific research.
Ummmm...... Not really. The United States like any country is extremely complicated, and it has some very complex attitudes toward intellectuals. The US curiously is quite *anti-intellectual*, and in general, academics get a lot less respect and value in the US than in most countries of the world.

The reason that the US embraces scientific research is not for particularly noble reasons, but because the US wants money and power. Physics is key to US wealth and global power. No physicists -> No atom bombs and silicon chips -> US is just another nation. Also the university system is also key to US wealth and power. The US academic system sucks some of the smartest people from the world, puts them into universities and then turns them into Americans.

Personally, I think its a good system, but you shouldn't be under any illusions about why things are what they are. From time to time, the politicians and the generals will go to the physicists and basically ask "do you have any inventions that will allow the US to maintain global domination?" The problem that you have is that condensed matter physicists, biophysicists, and even astrophysicists can show the politicians and generals some interesting toys. String theorists can't, and so there is a supply demand problem.
counterpoint
#13
Dec3-09, 12:03 AM
P: 16
I could also go to a community college and take some physics courses, if they are available. I'd be cruising by, compared to how these courses are, but it's way more cheaper and I could use the extra time.

Then go to a public school, work on my gpa, and do it the right way. it's never too late to do the right thing? i know that i believe in this, but how do i know it's true? it goes against all logic.

I also work at the labs, I'm doing ok in physics. I know there is alot more to learn, and I could use some discipline. Some english discipline, have you heard of english discipline? that was a terrible joke.
fleazo
#14
Dec3-09, 12:58 AM
P: 81
counterpoint -

if you are international student then u should most def go for more education...

try to get funding and head for grad school, that way you will be able to stay in US longer anyway.

You say you will get to stay in US after you graduate... I'm assuming you have good job prospects then? How long is your visa going to let you stay after you graduate to look for a job? It's tough right now to get sponsorship.. your best bet might be to go for grad school

Why can't you change your major again? You can always go to a less expensive school. It is well worth it in pursuit of your dreams. That way you can have the money to finish the courses and then get yourself on the path to grad school. If you are majoring in something science related, its far easier to get funding, especially if you get yourself set in a school with a smaller department. Like me, theres so few in my dept although its an amazing dept and I am almost 100% to get funding next fall.

Which country are you from btw? What are your plans in US?/ Do you want to stay here permenantly?

Please take my advice... if you are very seriuos about wanting to pursue a different career, switch your major while you still can. Believe me you can. You have not completed two years of school yet right so you should be able to transfer if need be. I stress this because the opportunity for education comes only once, and if you are int'l student it's all ready difficult in first place to get to US and start your studies. Why have u chosen business? Do you like it? It's going to be difficult to find employment with business degree v. getting a scientific degree

I really want to see u work this out so u can study as u please! You can do it!

What are ur major concenrs about switching major? Is it only tuition costs? If u don't mind my asking are u at a public or private school? U say u are low on funds, about how many semesters left can u fund urself? Scientific education is a much less expensive road as funding is incredibly easy to get at graduate level depending on ur performance and drive as an undergrad and what school u are going for. I can not stress this enough, if u are getting a proper scientific education, u shouldn't pay for advanced degrees!

My boyfriend is F1 as is my best friend and the vast majority of my friends, so I am very familiar with the woes of int'l students! Its so much more to deal with then what Americans have going through college... confusing with all the red tapes and ridiculous laws and restrictions! But don't worry it will always work out! :D

oh and btw, a minor is often all u need to get into grad school, u just need something that's related as ur bachelors. My BS which I'll have 2 weeks from now!! :D Is a math major with minors in chem, bio, and CS. I'm going for grad school in CS in the spring despite only having taken about 6-7 CS courses in total. Similarly I could head for bio grad if I wished, med school, math grad, many places because of the minors I have, so don't underestimate the power of a minor as long as its cleverly combined with other studies.

Another thing u can consider right away is research, do research. Few undergrads get involved in research. If ur interest is purely in gaining knowledge about subjects u are interested in, there is nothing that will benefit u more than research. I did research in plant virology for a year before switching to AI in computer science. Both seperate reseraches taught me more than I learned in all 4 years of college. Research is unparalleled as an undergrad experience goes, there's no describing how much u will learn and how it will shape your thinking. U can do it right away, there are no restrictions as far as int'l student status and most profs are happy to have eager people who just want to learn.
counterpoint
#15
Dec3-09, 01:16 AM
P: 16
american heritage. it's a great book.

:)
counterpoint
#16
Dec3-09, 01:19 AM
P: 16
i am not academic material...

i could learn for hours on my own, it does great for me, but not for the system. I've always felt like this, I was always in good schools because I could pass tests, I've never been under so much 'academic scrutiny'. It's brainwash, old fashioned, it's MORE MORE MORE abstract than it's TAUGHT.
counterpoint
#17
Dec3-09, 01:25 AM
P: 16
I read for hours, even days, everything metaphysics, metamatemathics, all the great novels 'brothers karamazov', it was entertaining and painful, I've been forced everything and I never found my passion, I always felt incomplete. Until I went through a phase, I started questioning dualism, what reality truly meant, I am a romantic!

http://www.amazon.com/Theory-Groups-.../dp/0486602699



I dreamt about Combinatorics the other day. Sadly, my dreams don't translate to 'reality'. I'm not crazy, I saw a great painting and I wanted to paint aswell. There is a voice within me that says 'don't paint, don't paint', so i need to paint.
counterpoint
#18
Dec3-09, 01:53 AM
P: 16
Quote Quote by fleazo View Post
could you put that into a formula?

thank you ;)

i am a terrible comedian.


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