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Apprehensive about being a quantum physicist.

  1. Jul 22, 2010 #1
    I am going into 8th grade this year, and I am a straight A student [though I hardly study], and I have a strong interest in physics. Many people say that my age gives me an advantage with the subject because I can learn more while going through school, and that I seem to be able to grasp this subject easily, but I am still very worried that there will be little Einsteins if I do go into this field [and I don't want to feel like I'm inferior to their intelligence].

    Math, in truth, is not my best subject. I left the year with a 93, and I did find it disappointing [note that I was in 7/8 math]. As a young child I would do random calculations all the time [i.e., seeing how many less lines I would need to used if I used college ruled vs. wide spaced, or seeing how long it would take to walk versus driving using an equation], but now it seems that I struggle more with math. I don't know if it's that I just don't like math without some science to solve or if I truly do suck at it.

    Though math may not be the most interesting subject for me, I find that I do love physics. I am fascinated by the world around me, and I recently stumbled across quantum physics and fell in love. So, I'm a bit apprehensive about it, particularly because of the math and the people who are generally interested in this subject. I want realistic answers not "oh, you'll do great" kind of things. Thanks.

    **btw- since I don't really study all that much now, I'm wondering [and dreading] if I will have to up my study time a lot. Tell me if you had to, thanks**

    Sorry for the long post.

    Edit: Not that I really mind, but I'm a girl, not a guy. =D
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2010 #2


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    It's somewhat silly to be asking this question at your age. I doubt you know any calculus (I didn't at your age), so how can you say you know any physics? Sure it might all sound cool, but why don't you give it a try before worrying yourself about these things?

    Also, your performance now might not have any bearing on your performance later on. In middle school I pulled straight Cs and now I'm at a top research university.
  4. Jul 22, 2010 #3
    I never made an A until I took grad level physics classes :)


    Do what you find interesting. You probably can't even shave yet---why are you worried about your future career? You should be growing pubic hair and asking girls to dances.

    Anyway, a bit of advice: Keep in mind that performing well in high school gives you a better shot at getting in to a top undergrad program. Performing well in a top undergrad program gives you a better shot at getting into a top grad program. Performing well at a top grad program will give you a better shot at getting a post doctoral position (the next step after grad school for physicists). It's never impossible to go from, say, a mediocre undergrad to a top grad program, but it is difficult. Life becomes easier for you if you have a long track record of successes at top places.

    Stay curious. You'll be fine.
  5. Jul 22, 2010 #4
    Sorry people, I'm a girl. Haha =D
  6. Jul 22, 2010 #5


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    Math is like a Carpenter's hammer. He may not like the idea of a hammer at first, he may not feel comfortable with it, but in the end to be a good carpenter, he must be proficient and comfortable with it. You don't need to love mathematics, you just need to learn to know how to use it and deal with it and be accepting of the idea that you may need to learn about a more advanced 'hammer' to do physics.

    You also will have to learn to study. You may breeze through high school, maybe even undergraduate college, but at some point you'll hit that wall where your current study habits need to be stepped up a notch. So be dynamic with your study habits and just keep in mind that the time will come when you need to study more than now. Remember, as you progress, people will expect more and more out of you so your study habits will change accordingly. At the extreme end, doing PhD work, you wouldn't be expected to have a job outside of your university and some people even find it difficult to have actual relationships during this time!
  7. Jul 22, 2010 #6
    I will point out that everything I said CAN still apply to a girl: old enough to shave, growing pubic hair, and asking girls to dances.

    I will also point out that that now sounds MUCH creepier, now knowing that you're a girl.

    I will ALSO point out that you have outed a very real bias: that all physicists, or people interested in math are boys.

    Apologies around. It's always good to see that there are SOME girls who are interested in physics :)
  8. Jul 22, 2010 #7


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    That made me laugh haha. Good, we need more females in science - yay!

    But what others have said here is true, concentrate on the courses you're in now, it's the most effective use of your time. Oh of course it's nice to daydream, especially about quantum stuff, it rocks!

    But still, have fun. Oh, and keep up good study habits. Especially in classes you don't enjoy, keep the discipline to focus - doing a good job in classes you don't particularly like is a very good skill to have, and it will serve you well all the way through college (and beyond).
  9. Jul 27, 2010 #8
    I used to daydream about quantum until I attended a presentation on a professor's work in quantum mechanics during an orientation course. I've been having nightmares since.
  10. Jul 27, 2010 #9
    The brash conceited confidence of an oocyte! I hope she even takes up a science, non-biology, non-experimental, major.

    Its all those non sequitor Woody Allen jokes that refer to QM as being the hardest of things to study that somehow filtered down to all the morons and sophists of the world. The day they realize that ol woody says only the smartest people work w/ QM, is the day they pick up Sakurai. The next day they pick up the Ford/Goldstein 'text'. They all have been carrying such QM texts to stripjoints ever since, if you catch the RPF allusion. Of course, RPF gets more tail dead, and from his dead wife!
  11. Jul 28, 2010 #10
    I hardly studied in middle school too and had the same math grade (around there) as you... Once you get into high school you will need to study as a lot of the things get extremely hard, especially if you're going to take AP and/or honors classes.

    Good luck.
  12. Jul 30, 2010 #11
    For now I would worry more about putting more effort into your classes. I know right now you find your classes easy and simple, but it will be very useful in the future. Self-discipline is a huge advantage in any post-secondary program.
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