Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Bad at maths but good at experimental physics ?

  1. Yes. Experimental physics isn't too heavy on mathematical stuff.

    3 vote(s)
  2. No. Because Physics is Math's boyfriend (or girlfriend, whichever you want to look at it).

    3 vote(s)
  1. Aug 23, 2008 #1
    I want to see some results.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2008 #2
  4. Aug 23, 2008 #3
  5. Aug 23, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This is getting to be highly annoying. Is there a useful purpose of this thread?

  6. Aug 23, 2008 #5
    Faraday -- end of thread.
  7. Aug 23, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    We cannot go backwards in time. The requirements to be a experimental physicist have changed a bit in the last 200yrs. Since we live NOW and not 200yrs ago we must gauge the level of math required by TODAYS needs. Experimentalists need math.
  8. Aug 23, 2008 #7
    Yes. Are these poll options even serious? Physics boyfriend? What kind of BS is this?...

    Don't even lock it. Just delete it to nullspace.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  9. Aug 30, 2008 #8

    "Upton, who joined the laboratory force in December 1878, provided the mathematical and theoretical expertise that Edison himself lacked. (Edison later revealed, "At the time I experimented on the incandescent lamp I did not understand Ohm's law.""

    "I do not depend on figures at all. I try an experiment and reason out the result, somehow, by methods which I could not explain.")

    Of course we need to ask was Edison doing physics or "just" inventing? I would argue siome work was experimental physics. e.g., one of the accidental discoveries made in the Menlo Park laboratory during the development of the incandescent light anticipated the British physicist J.J. Thomson's discovery of the electron 15 years later.

    What about Hubble's assistant Milton Humason?

    What about the astronomers who found/find variable stars through inspecting photographs?

    What about the citizen science project at Oxford for determining galaxy types? That's definitely experimental, and you can do that (now!) without using any mathematics. Some very strange objects have already been pointed out by observant citizens, so this might become an important project:


    OK some of this work is pretty menial, but so's much of the number/algebra crunching :-)
  10. Aug 30, 2008 #9
    Edison was a hack. You want a good experimentalist you look at Tesla, and he said math is important to his work.

    That said, how much math do you need? I've only done enough to understand the physics I'm learning. If I have to choose between math and a physics class, I take physics. If I have to choose between math and an EE or Comp Sci class, I take the latter, too, because those will be more useful for an experimentalist.

    That being said, knowing extra math won't hurt, either.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook