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Chemistry or Physics

  1. Apr 22, 2006 #1
    Can you give me any reasons why one would choose to go into Chemistry rather than Physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2006 #2


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    Depends on the context in which you ask the question: if it's your choice we're discussing, no one's going to be able to rationalize your behavior but you; if you're a physicist and trying to rationalize the behavior of your offspring ("Where did we go wrong?"), see a family counselor; if you're trying to define the nature of questions and answers that are answered in detail by chemists, as a sub-field of physics, as compared to the nature of questions and answers physicists present to describe identical phenomena, physics is the organized study of the properties of and interactions of matter and energy (or if you wish to be "relativistic," of energy or matter), that is, everything there is, while chemistry is the study of the properties and interactions of atoms and molecules as isolated entities, in bulk, and in "simple" mixtures.
  4. Apr 22, 2006 #3
    I decided to major in Physics last semester, but now I'm getting thoughts that maybe I would like Chemistry or Chemical Engineering better. I was just wondering why some of you may have chosen chemistry over physics.
  5. Apr 24, 2006 #4


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    Physics? Chemistry? Chem. E.? Depends on what you want to do, and what sort of hand-waving, superstition, and monetary bullying you're willing to tolerate to do it.

    First I.P. of He? A physicist is might spend a lifetime trying to justify ad hoc calculations; a chemist is going to accept Poincare' and measure it; chemical engineers never heard of it.

    Equation of state of methane? Physicist spends a lifetime making approximations trying to do a "rigorous" integration of the partition function; chemist laughs at "mean spherical approximation," measures it, reports it and wonders why the chemical engineers won't use it; the chemical engineers shovel a hundred years of pipeline data into their computers, and outperform the chemists by an order of magnitude in speed and uncertainty --- there's money involved.

    You wanta put communications satellites into orbit? Talk to the chemists for the fuel energetics, the physicists for ballistics, and the engineers for producing materials at tolerable unit costs.
  6. Apr 24, 2006 #5
    Yey for the last poster!

    I took chemistry because thats all i could get :P at the time it was better than a non-science degree or a mcDonalds diploma.

    It's kindof a running joke that most chemists are failed physicists, like the drummers of the science rock band :P
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