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Can Engineering be considered as A Lot Funner than Physics ?

  1. Jan 22, 2007 #1
    Can Engineering be considered as "A Lot Funner than Physics"?

    I started my IB diploma at September this year, and Physics is simply my most favorite subject. I liked the abstract ideas of how and why things worked the way they do in the universe.

    However, from ZapperZ articles, it seems that Physicists start off from learning about all these interesting properties of the universe, but ended up with some advisor and you spend your life publishing papers!

    Perhaps my view of Engineering is flawed as well, but I thought that Engineering is mainly about doing problem solving exercises with all sorts of different situations in the area that you specialize in, not spend your days writing up boring stacks of text.

    So, if all the Phd physicists ever do is publish papers, wouldn't it be right to say that the only reason they do it is because they've got no other choice since they can't switch jobs? Wouldn't that make Engineering a much more fulfilling career to pursue compared to the Physicist?
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  3. Jan 22, 2007 #2
    You're confusing your perceptions and personal notions with others. Did you ever think that those physicists might actually enjoy their jobs? How about, the thought that there might be some engineers who don't like be engineers and pursue a totally different career, like say finance?
  4. Jan 22, 2007 #3
    Yea it's true that some physicists might like their jobs writing papers up and stuff, but the original purpose of the physicist when he first took it for university is probably not to write papers right?

    Perhaps a more accurate question is, aren't the physicists who spend their lives publishing papers defying the purpose of them taking physics in the first place? Physicists exist to understand the nature and the mechanisms of the universe, how much time can they spend into doing that if they have to constantly write up papers to preserve their reputation?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  5. Jan 22, 2007 #4
    Many many physicists spend enormous amounts of time on research. Writing papers only is only for communicating the ideas behind your research. Why are you so fixated on the "writing papers" part?

    Doing research is probably very intellectually satisfying, and I know I'd want to share what I've found with everyone! It was scientists who first saw the value in the sharing of information (think early WWW)!

    What do you think is the CONTENT of all these papers??! My guess would be physics!

    Understanding the universe isn't just a dance done on one's own, or in one's head.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  6. Jan 22, 2007 #5
    One important question:

    How do you think all of these physicists communicate their mathematics, language, ideas and understanding of physics, if not through published papers?

    I would look into the difference between an 'experimentalist' and a 'theorist'.

    People who do theory (a lot of people on here) and those of us that want to do theory (myself and others), enjoy reading papers and hope to one day, publish our own. We are not doing physics because we 'like' writing papers.

    We do physics so we can share our ideas with one another and hopefully, help each other discover and understand the tangible universe.

    I would suggest you read a lot more about what physics is. All of the 'amazing conceptions' about the universe, came about through papers.

    How do you think Einstien's General Theory of Relavitity was accessed? Every person in the world didn't get a chance to ask him what he thought -- instead, they printed out his paper and studied it.

    You will realize that some theories can take 20+ years to formulate and then another 10 years for the community to read through and make complete sense of it.

    Research is not a one day lab class, like in university. It can be a lifelong endeavour at the end of which, you want someone to read through your entire life's work and give you their opinion.
  7. Jan 22, 2007 #6
    Lets not forget that PhD engineers publish a lot of papers too. This is just the way that research works. This is how you share ideas, collaboration.
  8. Jan 22, 2007 #7
    Yes, it's probably easier to simply state that ALL fields of research, publish high volumes of papers. From Physics, to geology, to neuroscience, to economics and back again. If you do research, expect to do publications. If you wish to do industry, I have no idea how that works, I am primarily concerned with academia.

    Then again I am much better at writing, than I am at math so perhaps I just have a natural passion for publications. I wouldn't worry about constructing papers because they will function as an intellectual release once you start conducting interesting research.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  9. Jan 22, 2007 #8
    Yes, very true. All fields of research publish plenty. Those in industry publish too... assuming its not a company or government secret.
  10. Jan 22, 2007 #9
    "funner" isn't a word
  11. Jan 22, 2007 #10
    Neither is fattastic but I use it with authority.
  12. Jan 22, 2007 #11


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    Please note that many physicists become engineers or are work in engineering related jobs. It it easy to switch from physics to engineering. And also if you are so worried about "publishing papers", have you ever wondered how physicists get the data? Its through research and experiments.

    It is incorrect to say that one is more fun than the other. Both of these professions are awesome if you truly love what you are doing.

    Your view of engineers isnt flawed [although I dont agree with "writing up boring stacks of text"], but your view of physicists and what they do is.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  13. Jan 23, 2007 #12


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    You seem to have lost the point that I made whereby publishing is a means of communication. It is not an end in itself!

    As has been pointed out already, other areas, including engineering, also publish their work. This is what happens whenever one is involved in doing research in new area of knowledge, be it physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, etc... etc. This is why such work is called "Research and Development". The work comes first, and when you have accomplished something worthwhile, you publish it so that it can be scrutinized by your peers, the knowledge can be distributed, and you can take credit for it! It's a win-win situation!

  14. Jan 23, 2007 #13
    Well as far as I know the typical workday for a lot of engineers involves writing documentation, going to meetings and overseeing the work done by the people that actually "use their hands". What you do at the university does not resemble what you have to in a typical job.
  15. Jan 23, 2007 #14


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    Well, I'm an engineer (senior integrated circuit designer) and my job is nothing like any of that.

    - Warren
  16. Jan 24, 2007 #15
    Guys thanks for all these comments and I'd say they really helped me erase my worries about becoming a physicist!
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