Biology seems like a waste of time

In summary, a 16 years old Chinese student living in Missouri, US seeks advice on their career as they love physics but do not enjoy biology. They are considering quitting school to focus on physics work, claiming that school is not teaching them real physics skills. They mention getting a C in their honor physics class, but mostly A's in other classes. They ask for guidance on what classes to take next year, with enrollment due soon. Others advise them to stay open-minded and not dismiss other subjects, as well as to speak with their instructor for ways to improve. The student also expresses frustration with the school system and feeling like an outsider due to their interests. They ask for advice on how to fully immerse themselves in a life of physics
  • #1
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I am a 16 years old chinese, and i live in Missouri, US.

Need some advice about my career, i love Physics. However i don't like biology, but i have to take it next year, or i don't get any other kind science class...

It is a waste of time! I wish to quit school and start on my Physics work first, because the school is useless, teaching me no skills of real Physics!

I get C in my honor physics class(even i get almost all 100% in my tests), i get all A in other classes.(most of my classes are honors, but i take regular english because i am from china...)

What should i do? what classes should i take next year? My enrollment sheet is due on Feb.18! help!
 
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  • #2
What should you do? You might want to revisit the opinion that you know better than your teachers what you should be learning.
 
  • #3
The point of school isn't to prepare you for one career. Stay open minded and maybe you'll end up switching your major to Biology in college.
 
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  • #4
Sometimes school does feel like a waste of time, but most people, when they look back on it, do not feel that way in the long run. I'd say go ahead with the biology course even if you find you're driven by physics. You might be suprised at how much the sciences intermingle.

The other advice is to figure out why you're not getting the marks you want despite doing well on tests. Perhaps you should make an appointment with your instructor and see of he or she has any advice on how you can improve.
 
  • #5
I too have zero interest in biology so I know how you feel. But like you said, you MUST take it. Just tough it out and do your best, it will be over in a few months. Just get it done and over with my friend.
 
  • #6
In my opinion, at your age it is not so good to develop an absolute altitude adverse to some kind of knowledge. You don't have to feel nervous about what you are not interested in. Look at them easily. That is life. You always meet something you are not ready to meet.
 
  • #7
Newton_V, you would learn "skills of real physics" in college - not likely in high school. In case you are learning some good skills in the subject now, you will probably be very pleased when you study the subject in college.

As for your present requirement of taking Biology, you might only have one choice available at your high school, so you are stuck with that one and only choice. You may have available only a light, messy, shallow introductory course covering too many topics. As unsatisfying as this may be, the situation could be much better in college; there (wherever), you may need another Introductory Biology course, but after that, you would at least have further options of the more pointed courses of Intro. Zoology, Intro. Botany, and Intro. Microbiology. At least they are more specific and more systematic - less vague.
... so unless you have some special Biology choices now in your high school, you are stuck.
 
  • #8
I...
This whole school thing is so boring, becuase i am chinese, i ain't get any real friend, nor anyone interested into physics like i do, everyone is so different.

Also i am working on college Physics, doing AP physics questions for fun.

The thing is i can not believe school is so hopeless, people are too dumb or too smart. (what i mean is, all people are bored)

I can not believe world changed so MUCH, i thought teachers are more hopeful!(in the past ages they are, maybe human race is getting dumber)

It is not that they don't help you, it is they can not answer my questions. (and in a long term, i ignore all teachers and anyone at school)

However i do have some friends, they are smart, but not serious enough into LIFE! (or they are just too smart to show it...)

I wonder if LIFE ever can make a difference.
 
  • #9
My question to you all:

Can anyone tell me how to become one with a LIFE of physics. (too bad, Physics is cheap now...)
 
  • #10
Newton V said:
I...
This whole school thing is so boring, becuase i am chinese, i ain't get any real friend, nor anyone interested into physics like i do, everyone is so different.

Also i am working on college Physics, doing AP physics questions for fun.

The thing is i can not believe school is so hopeless, people are too dumb or too smart. (what i mean is, all people are bored)

I can not believe world changed so MUCH, i thought teachers are more hopeful!(in the past ages they are, maybe human race is getting dumber)

It is not that they don't help you, it is they can not answer my questions. (and in a long term, i ignore all teachers and anyone at school)

However i do have some friends, they are smart, but not serious enough into LIFE! (or they are just too smart to show it...)

I wonder if LIFE ever can make a difference.

I took the liberty of looking through some of the threads you have started to get a sense of your level of knowledge with respect to physics and mathematics.

First, you seem to lack general foundations upon which to build your knowledge, and without such a foundation I would not claim that school can teach you nothing. Surely, it will not if you do not let it. Secondly, your questions are posed in a very non-scientific way, which leads to a broader point: you are unfamiliar with the language and nature of scientific formalism. This kind of formalism is required for any study in physics. You cannot merely wave your hands and claim nobody understands what you're trying to say; if they cannot, then your results are meaningless. Even Einstein, when he developed his theory of Relativity, received many letters claiming they did not understand his mathematics. He, however, was able to explain to them how it is that he derived his results. This common language of science (physics, in particular), mathematics, is how we convey ideas so that they can be understood. Not regular words in English, or Chinese, or whatever your favorite is. Simply put, these might be good enough descriptions for a lay-person but for a physicist it is not enough to merely state that the Earth travels around the sun in an "oval". It is necessary to know the properties of an ellipse and how to show that as a result of Newton's laws, the only possible stable orbits are ellipses.

I don't mean to sound terribly harsh, but you are criticizing the entire educational system. While it is by no means perfect, even you can benefit from it.
 
  • #11
When I was in high school I hated English so much that almost everywhere I would fail the course just because I wouldn't show up to class and when I did, I wouldn't do any work. I ended up taking English 8 times from grade 9 to grade 12 just to graduate. Now, what's more silly, me going to school just to fail my English classes over and over again, or me toughing out just one semester of it so I could move along? Could you see where I'm going with this? Basically you're going to have to just suck it up and do the work.
 
  • #12
Nabeshin said:
I took the liberty of looking through some of the threads you have started to get a sense of your level of knowledge with respect to physics and mathematics.

First, you seem to lack general foundations upon which to build your knowledge, and without such a foundation I would not claim that school can teach you nothing. Surely, it will not if you do not let it. Secondly, your questions are posed in a very non-scientific way, which leads to a broader point: you are unfamiliar with the language and nature of scientific formalism. This kind of formalism is required for any study in physics. You cannot merely wave your hands and claim nobody understands what you're trying to say; if they cannot, then your results are meaningless. Even Einstein, when he developed his theory of Relativity, received many letters claiming they did not understand his mathematics. He, however, was able to explain to them how it is that he derived his results. This common language of science (physics, in particular), mathematics, is how we convey ideas so that they can be understood. Not regular words in English, or Chinese, or whatever your favorite is. Simply put, these might be good enough descriptions for a lay-person but for a physicist it is not enough to merely state that the Earth travels around the sun in an "oval". It is necessary to know the properties of an ellipse and how to show that as a result of Newton's laws, the only possible stable orbits are ellipses.

I don't mean to sound terribly harsh, but you are criticizing the entire educational system. While it is by no means perfect, even you can benefit from it.
i have a life, and i am not someone who spend all my time on this forum, btw oval=ellipse in chinese, which makes no difference. i don't care about the language i am using, i only need to make other people understand, and therefore no need of better language. (ONLY FOOLS FLY IN ALL DIRCATION!)
By all meanings, do you understand that Physics is dying in some way? first, people discovered everything they needed. Second no one care about it anymore, it is about life and death, not about money and language!
 
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  • #13
Newton V said:
i have a life, and i am not someone who spend all my time on this forum, btw oval=ellipse in chinese, which makes no difference. i don't care about the language i am using, i only need to make other people understand, and therefore no need of better language. (ONLY FOOLS FLY IN ALL DIRCATION!)
By all meanings, do you understand that Physics is dying in some way? first, people discovered everything they needed. Second no one care about it anymore, it is about life and death, not about money and language!

Socrates said:
A fool thinks that he knows whereas the wise man know that he does not know.

Wow... So full of sound and fury...

You're a junior in high school. Having once been your age, I'd recommend losing the attitude and angst. But as for Physics (and science) dying, well, the reports of its demise have come often, and have always been premature.

I suppose I come across as paternalistic sometimes, but oh well.

(In before the lock!)
 
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  • #14
Newton V said:
It is not that they don't help you, it is they can not answer my questions. (and in a long term, i ignore all teachers and anyone at school)

If you ignore your teachers, how can you expect them to answer your questions?


Newton V said:
My question to you all:

Can anyone tell me how to become one with a LIFE of physics. (too bad, Physics is cheap now...)

I'm not sure I understand what you're asking here. Do you mean a career as a professional physicist? The most common route is to study physics in university - first as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student until you earn a Ph.D. Then you work as a post-doctoral fellow and eventually earn a postition with a university.


Newton V said:
i have a life, and i am not someone who spend all my time on this forum, btw oval=ellipse in chinese, which makes no difference. i don't care about the language i am using, i only need to make other people understand, and therefore no need of better language. (ONLY FOOLS FLY IN ALL DIRCATION!)
Why close the door? Improving language skills makes communication more efficient and prevents misunderstandings. Not to mention, great language skills can help to create a decent first impression on a cover letter.

By all meanings, do you understand that Physics is dying in some way? first, people discovered everything they needed. Second no one care about it anymore, it is about life and death, not about money and language!
I don't understand. How is physics dying? Are you arguing less people are interested in fundamental research? Do you have some evidence to back this up?

I would also argue that physics is only about life and death in an applied sense (eg. consequences of not wearing a seatbelt in a car crash).
 
  • #15
First, oval and ellipse are very different things.

You have to be open minded. If you start closing up your interests in high-school frankly that is not a good sign. You always think you will end up studying physics, and you cannot understand why everyone says you may change because you are so sure of it. But believe me, high school physics is nothing like university physics. University physics is nothing like graduate physics. And for the research level it's another story.

I think you really have to enjoy learning some things to go far. To me, yes I do not like biology, but any accomplished scientist/mathematician would find high school biology interesting if they did not know it. Because it is very general.

So get some real textbooks, learn. School coursework? That really is up to you.
 
  • #16
Recently, the boundaries between the various "branches of science" are not as rigid as they once were. Research is becoming more interdisciplinary (or, better, multidisciplinary). Biophysics (where physics is applied to biological problems) has been a hot topic (for research, funding, jobs, etc...) and will like continue to be so. So, having a strong background in biology might help a physicist broaden his or her physics future career options.
 
  • #17
ahh, i do read books about physics.

This is the one where i know physics is dying: "the trouble with physics" by Lee Smolin
(main idea: since 1970, there is no more shocking physics discover or any kind theory.)
 
  • #18
Newton V said:
ahh, i do read books about physics.

This is the one where i know physics is dying: "the trouble with physics" by Lee Smolin
(main idea: since 1970, there is no more shocking physics discover or any kind theory.)

First, what kind of books?

Second, going by that logic so many branches of mathematics would be dead! However, it is true that high-schoolers all dream of putting out massive theories, and if that doesn't sound possible, the subject is dying :uhh:
 
  • #19
Newton V said:
ahh, i do read books about physics.

This is the one where i know physics is dying: "the trouble with physics" by Lee Smolin
(main idea: since 1970, there is no more shocking physics discover or any kind theory.)

What are you talking about? There's plenty of new shocking discoveries.
Dark energy, superconductivity, superfluidity, string theory (if you think it's worth while) are all huge topics. It may be true that (string theory possibly aside) there haven't been any successful GR or QM type theories, but these come along once every hundred years, you cannot expect people to be constantly churning them out.

Physics is by no means dead, and to think it is is nothing short of naïvety.
 
  • #20
Nabeshin said:
What are you talking about? There's plenty of new shocking discoveries.
Dark energy, superconductivity, superfluidity, string theory (if you think it's worth while) are all huge topics. It may be true that (string theory possibly aside) there haven't been any successful GR or QM type theories, but these come along once every hundred years, you cannot expect people to be constantly churning them out.

Physics is by no means dead, and to think it is is nothing short of naïvety.



I understand, and in that book "the trouble with physics" talk about the string theory too, and dark energy.

HOWEVER DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE IS NO PART OF IT HAS BEEN TESTED, AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO TEST IT. IN FACT, THE THEORY APPEARS TO COME IN AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VERSIONS, MEANING THAT NO EXPERIMENT WILL EVER BE ABLE TO PROVE IT FALSE. AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY, IT FAILS. (quote from the book)

PS:if you want know more about it, then go read the book! BTW how you going to prove the universe is made by the Big Bang? How do you know that time shall be infinite? Why would we ever existed? Physics is about questions, but some questions are just too hard for human to solve and therefore we guess, which is good but also bad. (JUST HOW MANY TIME THESE FAMOUS SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG? AFTER ALL, WE MIGHT ALL BE WRONG, UNLESS YOU SHOW THE TURTH INTO MY EYE!)
 
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  • #21
Newton V said:
ahh, i do read books about physics.

This is the one where i know physics is dying: "the trouble with physics" by Lee Smolin
(main idea: since 1970, there is no more shocking physics discover or any kind theory.)

Maybe it's time to read real "physics books" rather than "[pop-] books about physics".
While Smolin's book is interesting, it is only about a small [but fascinating] subset of the fields of physics.
 
  • #22
robphy said:
Maybe it's time to read real "physics books" rather than "[pop-] books about physics".
While Smolin's book is interesting, it is only about a small [but fascinating] subset of the fields of physics.

you didn't even read the book... did you?
 
  • #23
Newton V said:
you didn't even read the book... did you?

I've read the book... and I know Lee.
 
  • #24
Newton V said:
I understand, and in that book "the trouble with physics" talk about the string theory too, and dark energy.

HOWEVER DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE IS NO PART OF IT HAS BEEN TESTED, AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO TEST IT. IN FACT, THE THEORY APPEARS TO COME IN AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VERSIONS, MEANING THAT NO EXPERIMENT WILL EVER BE ABLE TO PROVE IT FALSE. AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY, IT FAILS. (quote from the book)

I know that string theory, in its present form, is not a rigorous scientific theory in that it has made no testable predictions. That doesn't mean it will never become one, though. It may be the case that in ten or twenty years the theory will develop certain predictions that differ from current models which are in our capability to test. Maybe not. The point is, it isn't valueless just because it has made no predictions so far.

Also, please don't yell and use excessive amounts of punctuation.
 
  • #25
String theory - yeah, I don't believe in it.

But us mathematicians are having plenty of fun with that though, right or wrong! :biggrin:
 
  • #26
Anyways, even string theory is right, it is still useless.
We should make something useful, like find a way to make more energy out of atoms...
 
  • #27
Newton V said:
Anyways, even string theory is right, it is still useless.
We should make something useful, like find a way to make more energy out of atoms...

I'll relate an apocryphal tale (meaning: of dubious origins, even though it's told so often that it's frequently accepted as truth) involving Sir Michael Faraday and Queen Victoria:

Queen Vic and Mike Faraday said:
While demonstrating some of his work in electromagnetism to the Queen, Michael Faraday was asked how any of it might be of use. He replied, "Of what use is a newborn babe?"

(Apocryphal because sometimes it's Prime Minister Graystone, and sometimes it's Ben Franklin talking about flight to Louis XIV, and sometimes the retort is that one day, they'd be able to tax it). I don't relate this quote to say that something will definitively come of string theory, but to suggest that you always need some degree of speculative or exploratory science going on (unless it's doing something that patently violates our fundamental understanding of physics--which either leads to pounding your head against the wall or venture capitalists throwing money at you on a lark--see hydrino 'theory').

Nothing testable has yet come of string theory, but it's only a decade or so old (despite being 'the new hot' and taking up of many of the best and brightest scientific minds of our generation--but that's a discussion for another thread in another forum). As unknot alludes to, at the end of the day, it may very well be that string theory just turn out to be a neat mathematical construct. But failure of string theory does not sound the death-knell of physics as a whole.
 
  • #28
Newton V said:
I understand, and in that book "the trouble with physics" talk about the string theory too, and dark energy.

HOWEVER DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE IS NO PART OF IT HAS BEEN TESTED, AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO TEST IT. IN FACT, THE THEORY APPEARS TO COME IN AN INFINITE NUMBER OF VERSIONS, MEANING THAT NO EXPERIMENT WILL EVER BE ABLE TO PROVE IT FALSE. AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY, IT FAILS. (quote from the book)

I have also read the book and although it does raise good points about the faults of string theory, at the end of the day (like robphy said) maybe you should spend more time reading proper physics books rather than popular books for laymen if you want to be a physicist.

Newton V said:
PS:if you want know more about it, then go read the book! BTW how you going to prove the universe is made by the Big Bang? How do you know that time shall be infinite? Why would we ever existed? Physics is about questions, but some questions are just too hard for human to solve and therefore we guess, which is good but also bad. (JUST HOW MANY TIME THESE FAMOUS SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG? AFTER ALL, WE MIGHT ALL BE WRONG, UNLESS YOU SHOW THE TURTH INTO MY EYE!)

I was under the impression that you were interested in physics. How can you be if you disregard something as being false simply because you don't know the reason behind it? Also, I don't really understand why you want to do more physics if you think many fundamental questions will never be answered?

I too am a high school student and, personally, biology isn't really my thing. But that doesn't mean I'm simply going to not do it. It is important to expand your horizons and stretch yourself in all areas of academia.

As for ignoring your teachers, that's simply foolish. You say they cannot answer your questions but how can they if you refuse to listen to them?

I think you should study high school level physics before you decide to start tackling the harder areas of the subject. I mean, there's nothing wrong with being interested in things like string theory, but you have to learn the basics before you can make even the smallest contribution to such a complex field.

And I certainly don't agree with your comment about physics being "dead". New discoveries and theories are put forward all the time (there are also more theories of quantum gravity than just string theory). And when the LHC gets up and running I believe we will see some very exciting things and many new ideas will be formed.

Why be so pessimistic?
 
  • #30
Newton V said:
ok this is soooooooo offtopic now...

It wasn't us who drove it in that direction...

Newton V said:
PS: if we put everything into a shape, then Physics shall be a circular...

What?
 
  • #31
Newton V said:
ok this is soooooooo offtopic now...

It's not every day you can see someone hijack their own thread.

Newton V said:
PS: if we put everything into a shape, then Physics shall be a circular...

Blessed are the cheesemakers!
 
  • #32
Newton V said:
ahh, i do read books about physics.

This is the one where i know physics is dying: "the trouble with physics" by Lee Smolin
(main idea: since 1970, there is no more shocking physics discover or any kind theory.)

Realize that, by reading books of this type, you have spent your time learning about physics, not learning physics! This is a good starting point for someone in high school, but it does not give you the proper background to comment on current state of physics. You need to realize that you do not know enough physics or enough about physics to make those kind of judgments. In short, I'm saying what everyone else is saying. Lose the attitude and stop acting like you know everything about physics. You are not going to learn anything new if you have the attitude that you already know everything important.

There are many many new and interesting things going on in physics research today. Have you looked into any research in spintronics, quantum computing, high temperature superconductivity, and nanoscience/technology to name a few? These are all active research areas where new progress in theory and experiment is happening every day! Not all physics is about string theory or gravitation or elementary particles. If you kept an open mind, realized that maybe you don't really have any experience in physics yourself, maybe you would have found out about these fields earlier.

This is also why everyone is telling you to be open to your biology class. How much do you really know about biology? Maybe you will like it if you give it a chance.

Your attitude is common among high school age people. You'll get over it, but I suggest you get over it quickly if you plan on continuing to discuss the state of physics on this forum.

robphy said:
I've read the book... and I know Lee.

:rolleyes: Oh snap!
 
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  • #33
live it or not is it?
 
  • #34
To answer your question Newton_V, just get the course over with if you really detest biology that much, you don't have many options at your age.

Although it might be hard if English is not your first language, try not to make goofy criticisms to others even if you don't actually mean it the way it is displayed in the forum (although they are quite hilarious, they can be taken as a sign disrespect). Just be careful.
 

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