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Confused lost and demoralised >.<

  1. Oct 10, 2009 #1
    Hi guys i am currently a year 1 student and i am doing physics major and i am having a tough time now :grumpy: Even though what i am learning now is the basic of physics, sometimes i find myself lost during lecture and can't make any sense of what the lecturer is saying. Is this a common thing that most people experience or is it just me :cry:

    At times i have though of giving up and do some other degree but i can't really think of what other things i want to do other than physics :frown: So do you guys think that even someone with such low caliber can do physics?

    I have always been fascinated by cool gadgets and the job prospect of being a nano engineer has always been very appealing to me until i started to do physics major that is. I have found myself hating to go to physics lab classes because we just can't produce the damn theoretical result that we wanted or expected and i find that very annoying. The lab manager told us it is impossible to get the experimental data from the theory that we learn and that greatly disappoint me for some reason.

    After the experience i felt that being a theoretical physicist might be what i really wanted to do since i prefer to solve questions and understand physics rather than proof them by doing countless experiments. I read a book which briefly talks about the period when string theory was first introduced and i decided that this is the thing i want to do and not sitting around the lab watching the pendulum :yuck: However i have been wondering does a theoretical physicist have to do experiments to proof their point? So do you guys think that i should continue my pursuit to be a nano engineer or follow what i think i want even though i am not so smart and be a theoretical physicist?

    I apologize if some of the statement does not make sense as i am in kinda confused state when i am typing this:confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2009 #2
    You'll find that the first year of physics is the toughest because that's when you're developing your problem solving intuition. Go through all the worked examples in the chapter and make sure you understand them. Then keep working through problems all the time, get a solutions manual to check your answers.
  4. Oct 10, 2009 #3
    Experiments rarely ever give you exactly the same result as theory. Theories are full of assumptions to simplify the problem and experiments are full of experimental errors resulting from improper calibration, lack of experience of the experimenter, and in an undergrad lab course the equipment probably sucks anyways.

    For example, you mentioned watching a pendulum. My guess is that you are using the basic equation to theoretically calculate the period of the pendulum. T=2pi*sqrt(L/g) Well this equation is only valid when the angle is very small. You should look up the equation for when the angle is not so small and you will see why these simplifying assumptions are necessary.

    So my point is that you shouldnt be disappointed that the data doesnt fit the theory very well.

    I also doubt that any real experiments that physicists are doing involve watching pendulums swing back an forth, the stuff they are doing now is infinitely more exciting. If physics is really what you want to to do then you should stick with it and work hard to understand the concepts in class. Do the practice problems, work with friends, get a tutor, talk to the professor...whatever it takes. And dont be so quick to give up on working in a lab. Try to get involved in research with a professor and see what real experiments are like. And talk to professors who are more involved with theory and see what that is like.
  5. Oct 10, 2009 #4


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    Being a physics major is not easy. Remember, you're taking a course as a first year that is considered by many, to be the hardest course they will ever take at university. You're taking it as a freshman! And you're going to take four more years (at least!) of courses building on this course. It is not easy. Physics involves methods of thinking that you probably have not developed, yet.

    However, physics is also one of the most intellectually rewarding fields one can study. Every hard problem, every late night studying, every long lecture pays you back tens times over with an unparalleled depth of understanding of nature and the world around you.

    Don't give up! Do every problem you can. Don't get discouraged by bad data in lab or a tough class. You can do it, and if you do, it will be worth it.
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