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

Confused, stuck, and need opinions.

  1. Feb 6, 2010 #1
    Hello. I signed up to get peoples opinion. See, I have no one to talk to about my situation or quantum physics, so here it goes. Im 23 and have no school experience. I am a natural at computers, but my real passion of course is quantum physics. When I learned about quantum my whole entire life changed. For good and for worse. I felt like no matter what I did it would not be enough, and learning the truth about the mind and reality, really messed me up. But there was also alot of positive in it as well. I was able to absorb science like a sponge, and I could actually control reality in my favor.

    When I tried to talk to people about what I learned, they did not understand a damn thing on the subject. People dont like it here. Lets just say I live in the boon docks, and do not have ANY school around for hundreds of miles thats worth a damn. I am interested in maybe schooling online for my core classes first? Im just worried because I do have huge goals I want to go for, and if I dont go for them I will feel useless. So would schooling online honestly lead to me an amazing school like MIT? I dont even know what to do anymore. I dont make enough money to just get up and move somewhere. Thanks for reading
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I suspect you did not learn "the truth about the mind and reality" and Quantum Mechanics is not what you think it is. I'm not sure what path to suggest to you, but I think you would find that QM is not what you think it is.
  4. Feb 6, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    By "no school experience" I'm guessing you mean that you finished high school, but haven't pursued any post-secondary education. You've developed an interest in quantum mechanics and you want to know how to proceed.

    Online classes are an option, but I'm not sure that I would really trust them to give you an adequate background in any subject such as physics because you won't do any labs. And without labs, it's unlikely that any credit you receive will be recognized.

    What I would suggest is that you enroll in a first year physics class at a community college. Many schools will have these available as a night course so you could take it while you work during the day. By doing this you will begin to lay a foundation for the formal study of physics, have the opportunity to interact with others with an interest in the subject, and figure out if this is really something you want to dive head first into. Also, it doesn't have to be a prestigious school at all, so don't worry about having to travel hundreds of miles -- unless, of course, there are physically no schools for hundreds of miles, in which case you will have to figure out how to get to one.
  5. Feb 7, 2010 #4
    What did you read? There is a lot of non-sense that has been written about quantum mechanics. I worry a bit because if your whole life changed when you read about quantum mechanics, then it may be that you read something written by someone that knows nothing about quantum.

    If you read something by Richard Feymann, that's good. If you read something that mentions Eastern religion, then your first task is to actually understand what quantum mechanics is.

    Ummmmmmmm..... No. I think you read something written by someone knows nothing about QM.

    OK. First step. If you really want to learn what QM really is about rather than the nonsense which you someone has given you. Read

    QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard Feynmann, and
    An Introduction to Quantum Physics by French and Taylor

    MIT puts all of their course notes online at http://ocw.mit.edu/. They have a pretty good quantum course at


    First step is to that you really need to find out what quantum mechanics really is all about. The reason Feynman and French/Taylor are good is that they aren't too mathematical. The next step is to learn some basic math. You'll need basic calculus, and you can get that from OpenCourseWare or from other places.
  6. Feb 7, 2010 #5
    Also MIT has posted their physics curriculum online and you can use that as a study guide to figure out what courses you need to take at the local community college. One important piece of advice is don't make quantum mechanics weird. The problem is that QM is weird. It's very, very weird. So to understand it, you have to try to make it as unweird as possible. Only by trying to make it not weird can you understand how weird it really is.

    The way that the MIT physics curriculum goes is that the first year involves learning basic Newtonian physics. You start by understand the really non-weird stuff like bricks and balls (8.01) and electricity (8.02). The next course is about springs and waves (8.03). The next course applies what you've learned about springs and waves to atoms (8.04). The purpose behind this series of steps is so that you always have a lifeline to the world that you are familiar with and that keeps you from getting totally lost.
  7. Feb 7, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Please note that there's a tremendous difference between learning quantum mechanics versus learning ABOUT quantum mechanics. I suspect that you've been reading about the latter.

  8. Feb 11, 2010 #7
    I would look into physics more if I were you. Then, if you still feel like it is something you want to do with your life, make it happen. You can do what I did, work two jobs over the summer, get rid of what can't fit into a dorm room, and go to school (out of state if necessary). I moved from East Texas to California and only have what fit in my car. If you truly want to devote your life to understanding the world, then you can't let something like 100 miles stop you (1,500 in my case).

    You may be able to take some classes online. Just make sure (can't stress that enough) that the classes will transfer to whatever school you plan to get your bachelor's from. Forget about MIT until you are at least a junior in college. By then you will know if it is a school you can get into.
  9. Feb 16, 2010 #8
    The idea that by learning physics you will "understand the world" is very naive. If you get a good education you might get to understand some useful models. But you will not "understand the world". With a fair wind you might help produce a better model of part of the world. Think of Rutherford, he developed a model of the atom consisting of a small, heavy nucleus and electrons in orbit around it. Not the model we have today, but more useful than the model that came before it. People are saying that the model we have today us flawed (true!) and that a stringy model is needed (who knows?) But, whatever, all we end up with is a series of models, not a final, mystical "understanding the world". Once you realise that, you can move out of physics and make lots of money like twofish-quant. Or you may not want to bother starting to get into physics. If you enjoy it, like you enjoy a good meal, then do it. If not, do something else. Don't try and get more out of physics than it offers.
  10. Feb 16, 2010 #9
    I am a mechanical engineer, but we know a few things about physics and there’s been hype lately about quantum mechanics. When I talk to my sister that has read a bunch of stuff I find myself doubtful and hesitant because I realize someone is selling a bunch of stuff as the secret truth or something, and when I mention something she all of a sudden thinks she understands it all and how it all makes perfect sense, and because of that she’s sure she is going to be everlastingly happy and prosperous. Hmm. Not in physics you are not. :-D
    Anyways, I encourage anyone to go for physics as it’s an amazing field of study and I myself will be venturing more directly in it soon. As for your confusion, Sam, I have little advice to give to you. I encourage you to follow your passion wisely, keep your body relaxed, and keep your eyes open.
  11. Feb 17, 2010 #10
    If you have a high school diploma, then you can enroll in community college. After two years, you can transfer to a nice state school and earn your physics degree.
  12. Feb 17, 2010 #11
    I think if you want to start a career as a physicist, you should get higher level of education, for example, B.S. and P.H.D. Simply learning physics by yourself can't help you become a physicist.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook