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Am I the only one?

  1. Jan 26, 2013 #1
    Am I the only one that gets suicidally depressed when he isn't solving the great problems of science? Actually, I can stave off suicide if I feel that I am actually learning something. I don't have to actually solve any great riddle. I'm too lazy to look it up, but Feynman talked about this, there's a youtube video on it. He said that there's a great pain, when you don't understand something. It hurts you, bad. I think that's what drives me, though.

    Does anybody else feel this burden to understand things? Something that actually hurts? Or is this all a game to y'all?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2013 #2
    Having the desire to understand and know more things about Science is normal, but getting suicidal depressed when you're not doing it it's not... Good that you found an "escape" from that depression, but having suicide thoughts or a so deep depression isn't good, you should seek help for your own good...
  4. Jan 26, 2013 #3
    Ok, perhaps I was being a little overdramatic for effect. But the pain is real. If I hit a dry spot where progress slows, it really is painful. I mean I'm not gonna kill myself but I do get depressed. I'm single, though, I guess if you had kids and commitments your priorities may be different
  5. Jan 26, 2013 #4
    The only thing that hurt me in my quest for knowledge was that two hour long algebraic derivation in astrophysics class today.
  6. Jan 26, 2013 #5
    Yeah, it really pays to spend the time looking for a mentor or Prof who teaches in the way you learn. I really think that is the key. I have a famous saying (that only I appreciate) but here it is. Spend 50% of your time researching what to study and the other 50% studying it. You may be even better advised to spen 90% researching what to study...
  7. Jan 26, 2013 #6


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    Switch to math and focus on set theory. Beautiful proofs galore courtesy of Cantor! Say goodbye to that pesky algebra! (I'm serious do it xD)
  8. Jan 26, 2013 #7
    I have to agree with you here. The prof is really good, she explains things really well--like special relativity. I was still unclear about a few concepts and her explanation really cleared things up. I don't know what happened today....I was like, if this is what astrophysics is about--I think maybe I should just stick solely with chemistry. When I got home I looked over the notes again and I still can't understand why we were on it for 2 hours.
  9. Jan 26, 2013 #8
    You know, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but I think you're right. Math has really never let me down. Physics has, with all this quantum weirdness, but math never really let's you down. For some reason there always seems to be more math to learn whereas you can get stuck with physics and not know how to progress.
  10. Jan 26, 2013 #9
    Ha look at you trying to entice me with your esoteric set symbols :biggrin: I should be taking number theory soon, I think maybe set theory is taught there...I must look again. Proofs are actually pleasing and I can totally enjoy getting lost in the logic but taught derivations are like a form of torture...they're much better as exercises.
  11. Jan 26, 2013 #10
    :rofl: omg this is classic. I remember reading "It's the probability that waves" and I pictured the probability waving in the most sadistic manner because it probably knows what's really happening on the other side lol
  12. Jan 26, 2013 #11


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    It is a game. And the more you practice at it the better you become.

    Failures in abundance...
  13. Jan 26, 2013 #12
    Really, you're not troubled by things you don't understand?
  14. Jan 26, 2013 #13


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    There are a lot of stuff I don't understand (not necessarily restricted to math and physics), if it bugs me then I ask someone, and if I don't find someone then I look in the literature.

    And if no one understands then at least I am in a good company. :-)
  15. Jan 26, 2013 #14
    Oh I see. You have to see if you still like what you're doing even if you pass through that pain. Personally I don't feel that, if I hit a dry spot I may feel a bit discontented but I wouldn't call it painful.

    And about changing to Math, I have my personal experience in that, maybe it can help you... I went to a Mathematics minor (while in Physics bachelor) this year, because I was kind of tired of Physics. I assigned in Algebra I and introduction to set theory.
    I thought I'd like abstract algebra but I didn't. That categorization of everything and it being so abstract makes me feel I'm going nowhere. The only "fun" part is to do mathematical proofs, which I learned and practiced a lot because of algebra, but for me it's still not a good enough reason to change from Physics to Mathematics.
    Set theory I really liked, because it's the most fundamental thing about Mathematics and finally I came to understand many things I always wanted to. But still, the motivation for me to learn Mathematics is always to understand Physics, and it doesn't make sense to me to understand Mathematics if I won't apply it anywhere else. Mathematicians have a different motivation than I do, because they take pleasure just learning Mathematics for the sake of it, while I take pleasure in learning Mathematics to apply it to other fields.
  16. Jan 26, 2013 #15
    I don't share your concession. Pink Floyd said, "life is a short warm moment, death is a long cold rest." From my folk calculations, roughly a quarter million people die around the world every day, mostly from natural causes. None of them really know where they are going or if they are going anywhere. You can fool yourself, but I'm gonna go out swinging at least with the feeling that I gave it a good try.
  17. Jan 26, 2013 #16
    I'm glad I'm in general discussion or this thread would have been bumped, somewhere. And I don't want to re-direct the discussion but this really is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge. And that 800 pound gorilla is that you could die tomorrow (or today) from any myriad circumstance and then what? What did you do? Create a blog? Have a couple kids? Run a successful freelance plumbing company who's business sagged with the economic slowdown?

    Maybe you were a teacher, schooled the kids in maths and science. But now it's over, something happened. Your short warm moment is over. Did it matter what you did here? What is the operational qualification for "mattering?" I know I'm waxing existentialist, but any one of us could go at any second and these things are important. Even if we want to pretend that they aren't
  18. Jan 26, 2013 #17


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    Don't think too much, just go with the flow... ;-)
  19. Jan 26, 2013 #18
    Science should not be your life, just like bagging grocieries shouldn't be a bagger's life.
  20. Jan 26, 2013 #19
    I think I'd probably do better thinking less and bagging more groceries.
  21. Jan 26, 2013 #20
    Then what would make your life matter in your view? If nothing would do, it's better to take the best out of it and enjoy it. If being a great scientist for example would make your life matter, I ask why is that? You helped human knowledge advance but what does that matter if most people's lives don't matter anyway? Why does helping people matter if their lives don't matter?
    Anyhow, if you keep doing something you don't enjoy you'll give up eventually or look at it in another way.
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