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Am I going in the right direction?

  1. Oct 2, 2011 #1
    Well, I'll start with a summary of my life story.
    Up untill the 4th grade I was homeschooled, hence I had some academic freedom. I have always excelled in math (learning multiplication when I was about 5 from a computer game) but English always tends to bore me. I've always wanted to learn French or German, but have never been given the opprutunity until I decided that I actually wanted to learn them (my mom is German so she tried teaching me German when I was in the 1st and 2nd grade, but I never caught on). Until I was about 8, I never caught on to stuff easily. After that I started reading a book (I think it was an old one about Astronomy and Physics) and the field of Theoretical Physics caught my eye, even though I was more interested with astronomy at the time. I know that I'd have to work harder to reach my goals and I did. I did quite a bit of studying and I started noticing that Astronomy tied in very closely with Physics. I started studying that, too. But I found that Physics was much more interesting, and important, than the basic Astronomy I was learning so I left my earlier field and started getting more in-depth with Physics. By the time I started going to public school, the 4th grade, I was able to catch on to most basic and some more difficult concepts if they were explained. Near the end of the year I started going through a process that would eventually have me skip the fifth grade. During the process I had to take an IQ test. The questions seemed to come easily to me. A few weeks later I went to a meeting along with the principle, my teacher at the time, and several other people. I found out that I scored very high on the IQ test. They told me my IQ was 220, and that it was in the first percentile. I didn't think much of it at the time for two reasons. One was that I didn't know that the avereage IQ was 100, and two was that I thought that "first percentile" meant that 1% of people my age were smarter than me, not that <1% of people my age were as smart as I was. The only thing that haunts me about the sixth grade is that I made no friends for various reason that I will not elaborate upon. But in the seventh grade I quickly made friends, but not many (something like 10 out of an 85-person class). Right now I'm in the 8th grade, I turn 13 in a week, and I'm currently learning about more advanced physics. The problem is finding where I can learn it, since I'll easily catch on if it's explained. I'm currently reading Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell.
    So, what do you think? Am I on the right track? I hope to go to MIT to major in physics, maybe mathmatics, and I hope to minor in Quatum Theory.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2011 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Hey there zwinkey98 and welcome to the forums.

    In my mind there are two main ways to learn something: either socially in some kind of accredited environment (like a university or a college), or on your own.

    For something like physics, it's probably a good idea to do the first way. There are a couple of reasons for this:

    1) Most people will not take you seriously if you tell them that you have self-taught yourself physics. This includes any kind of professional or expert and even other professionals in a similar kind of industry (other scientists, engineers) and so on.

    2) It is very hard to be not only motivated, but also disciplined enough to learn enough and gain the skills to do top level/professional physics. The fact is that while experiments could be done by one person 100 years ago, this isn't the case anymore. Most experiments require half a dozen to a dozen people and some experiments (particle physics as an example) require hundreds and hundreds of people.

    3) Even if you are motivated enough, extremely disciplined, and have learned enough to be world class, you still need access to resources like computers, experimental equipment, and other resources to do decent experiments. These cost lots of money and places like universities, colleges, and corporate R&D labs provide these tools in exchange for your tuition money, or intellectual property rights.

    With regards to doing physics in university, I recommend you take the highest level mathematics that you can as well as the highest level physics and chemistry as well (some science courses have a chemistry requirement, but you should check for yourself).

    Also if you search the forums here there are so many MIT posts here that you should search for these as tonnes of people ask the very same question about getting into MIT. In short it is really completely uncertain even if you are really good candidate.

    ZapperZ wrote a guide about becoming a physicist and I think it is stickied somewhere in the forums. I recommend you read that thoroughly first and then ask other more specific questions.
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