Are science jokes fundamentally accurate?

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Moonbear

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Monique said:
People researching medical conditions are not always medics! As a biochemist you get training in chemistry; electron orbits and nuclear chemistry. So how many quantum mechanics people do you know who are familiar with biochemistry? To understand why a liver fails you don't learn much from electron orbits alone, you learn from biochemical pathways. You don't need to include quantum mechanics to understand a liver.
For that matter, how many quantum physicists would know how to even diagnose liver failure and what treatment to prescribe let alone understand the mechanism of the failure sufficiently to research a preventative or cure for it. It's pointless to try to say one is harder or easier or requires more intelligence than the others. You don't need in-depth knowledge in one field to address another, but, one shouldn't be oblivious to the other fields and their main areas of study either, because there are times when you may need to seek out advice from those in other areas and need to know those areas exist to do that.
 
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I see that things are not as straight forward as they may appear ... but I was more interested in the comparison between pure mathematicians and theoretical Physicists since they are more related than say Physicists and doctors.

I seem to get the impression that in modern times the 'smartest young people' go into theoretical physics but traditionally (and the jokes seem to suggest also) it is pure mathematics that should be viewed as the hardest and 'top level' thing. i.e. Gauss said the queen of science is mathematics and the queen of mathematics is number theory.

So do we agree that pure mathematics is genearlly more difficult than theoretical physics? i.e. It is easier to become a Einstein than a Ramanujan.
 
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pivoxa15 said:
I seem to get the impression that in modern times the 'smartest young people' go into theoretical physics but traditionally (and the jokes seem to suggest also) it is pure mathematics that should be viewed as the hardest and 'top level' thing. i.e. Gauss said the queen of science is mathematics and the queen of mathematics is number theory.
The joke doesn't suggest that pure mathematics should be viewed as the "top level" thing at all. It is a lampoon of the attitude of the pure mathematicians who regard themselves as the "top level" in the hierarchy. The joke doesn't even suggest any authentic hierarchy we should adopt.
 

SpaceTiger

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pivoxa15 said:
So do we agree that pure mathematics is genearlly more difficult than theoretical physics? i.e. It is easier to become a Einstein than a Ramanujan.
How did you get that impression from the responses given? It's an extremely ill-posed question and I don't think there's a well defined answer to which genius it's "easier" to be. I can say one thing for sure -- that said genius would not be contemplating such things.
 

Monique

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pivoxa15 said:
I seem to get the impression that in modern times the 'smartest young people' go into theoretical physics but traditionally (and the jokes seem to suggest also) it is pure mathematics that should be viewed as the hardest and 'top level' thing.
It ALL depends on your training as I implied (and others, like Integral with the Bushmen) why would pure math need to be the hardest 'top level' thing? Math geniusses are geniusses at math, I have a hard time believing they would be any good in other fields.
 
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hey how bout looking at things this way, what all of them scientist and mathematicians
be eating if there aint no farmers. U all'd starve. How bout a hand for them farmers.Everyones got their thing to do . RESPECT.
 

Monique

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I have respect for everyone and grateful that different people do different things. But we don't live in a Communist society. I was just curious about the different difficulty levels of the different disciplines. When I say one subject is more difficult than another, I mean what the general population on average feels when learning the subject. For example, I and many people I know would agree that learning theoretical chemistry is easier than learning theoretical physics. What I want to know is do most people feel pure math or theoretical physics is harder to learn? Personally, I feel pure math is harder but I have only done first year level subjects and do not know many people who have done these two disciplines so your input would be appreciated.
 

SpaceTiger

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pivoxa15 said:
Personally, I feel pure math is harder but I have only done first year level subjects and do not know many people who have done these two disciplines so your input would be appreciated.
The difficulty of learning something is dependent on your skills. It's also not the same question that you were asking, since learning something at an elementary level is entirely different from being a genius in the field. Pure math is certainly more abstract than theoretical physics, but there are some ways in which this makes things easier, since you don't have to constantly be worrying about the physical implications of your derivations. As BicycleTree pointed out, mathematical derivations have one eternal answer and you can follow a definite set of rules to reach that answer. In theoretical physics, it's not always so straightforward. Every mathematical operation is supposed to represent something in the real world and we're not always sure which rules the real world is going to obey. For example, in a paper I was discussing recently, the core issue was whether or not a particular pair of tensors can be said to commute. It's not really a mathematical issue, since whatever the answer may be, we will have no problems deriving a solution. The question is fundamentally a physical one. What assumptions about the real world can we make in doing our derivation?

I'm not saying theoretical physics is more difficult, I'm just saying things aren't as black and white as you're trying to make them.
 
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pivoxa15 said:
What I want to know is do most people feel pure math or theoretical physics is harder to learn?
I thought you wanted to know if science jokes were fundamentally accurate. I keep trying to address your original quetion, and you keep ignoring me as if you never asked it. What gives?
 

Moonbear

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pivoxa15 said:
For example, I and many people I know would agree that learning theoretical chemistry is easier than learning theoretical physics. What I want to know is do most people feel pure math or theoretical physics is harder to learn? Personally, I feel pure math is harder but I have only done first year level subjects and do not know many people who have done these two disciplines so your input would be appreciated.
The answer is really still the same. It depends. For the person who loves math and will likely become a mathematician, math might be the easiest subject for them; there are rules to follow and definite answers at which they will arrive. But, ask that mathematician to write a poem or learn molecular biology, and they will not be good at that.

kaos said:
hey how bout looking at things this way, what all of them scientist and mathematicians
be eating if there aint no farmers. U all'd starve. How bout a hand for them farmers.Everyones got their thing to do . RESPECT.
:rofl: I just got this picture in my mind of watching mathematicians trying to herd cattle. :rofl: "If we assume all cattle are points with the following Cartesian coordinates on the field..." :tongue2:
 
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I think that if you want to be able to bluff your way in subjects other than your own, then its probably best to start off as a mathematical physicist. "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman" is full of examples of how Richard Feynman managed to succeed in other fields (and how he was eventually 'found out'). Maybe that was just the way he was, but I don't think that if he had started with a career as a drummer then he would have been able to take up theoretical physics as easily as the other way around.
 

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