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Daily Life of a Physicist

  • Physics
  • Thread starter RestlessMind
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

So, if I'm a person who loves physics and has no problems with equations, but simply isn't very creative with mathematics and isn't exactly in love with it either, should I not pursue a career in physics?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
turbo
Gold Member
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Like a carpenter who is not fond of measuring, your career could be interesting.
 
  • #3
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Well, it's not that I can't DO math, or suck at it. I just don't think it's the greatest thing ever.

Lol, a carpenter that LOOOOVES measuring... would be an enthusiastic carpenter.
 
  • #4
247
1
Draven,

I have NO experience as a physicist, but I have found in life there are relatively few people whose careers are the embodiment of their college degree. If you study a subject, in this case say physics, for four years, it is unlikely anyone is going to hire you as a "physicist". If you go on to get a post graduate degree and then a doctorate in a particular field of physics then your career path will largely depend on the economic viability of your field of study. If your specialty is not "marketable" to industry, then likely you will end up working for a government funded project or company.

The vast majority of college graduates end up working for a company or the government. The majority of college graduates who work for a company or the government are eventually involved in management. The next largest segment is teaching and education.

My advice would be to pursue a degree in what you enjoy and then enter the workforce with an open mind and willingness to adapt. Your matriculation from college is proof that you have the ability to learn and focus, most employers will take that at face value and attempt to mold you into what they need.

Good Luck,

Fish
 
  • #5
173
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Oh, well, somebody's gotta do the actual physics though, right?
 
  • #6
MathematicalPhysicist
Gold Member
4,285
200
I don't think you have tasted what is math exactly all about.

Have you taken a course in math which is proof-based?
 
  • #7
173
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No. I'm in 11th grade, taking Pre-Calculus currently, which I hate more than anything before it, lol. It makes me look at the other math I thought I didn't like entirely differently.

When it comes to math, I'm best at geometry. I actually enjoyed that at one point, but maybe that's cause I hated Chemistry that year too.
 
  • #8
201
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Math only gets more interesting past pre-calc. I had lots of fun doing calculus; the math you're doing now is just more and more algebra techniques since probably 8th grade. No new fundamental concepts are being introduced and you find it boring right?

Lots of people will grudge through tedious math in the name of physics. I think you'll be fine, just hang in there.
 
  • #9
173
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Yes, very very boring lol. I will follow your advice, though.

By the way, about the whole thing with physics degree people getting jobs in management for firms or gov't... that would actually be fine with me, even if it was mostly management but I still got to take part in experiments and what-not. Anybody know about that?

Pretty much my dream physics job would be to work here: http://www.lanl.gov/ Naturally. :P I read that about 1/4th of the people there are physicists, so I assume they're not all doing the coolest stuff at the same time.
 
  • #10
6,814
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No. I'm in 11th grade, taking Pre-Calculus currently, which I hate more than anything before it, lol. It makes me look at the other math I thought I didn't like entirely differently.
You might want to take a look at these books

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0471135712/?tag=pfamazon01-20
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0691124922/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Something that would encourage you is that high school math is often taught in a way that people who enjoy physics *HATE*. I have an astrophysics Ph.D., but you put me in the average 11th grade, pre-calculus high school math class, I'd likely totally HATE it, and I wouldn't do that well in it either. I'm actually quite miserable at arithmetic and calculation.

One thing that helped me a lot is that I had high school teachers that basically figured me out, and so what they did was to just give me books to read.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
173
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Wow, I didn't know people with PhDs were on this site!

Thanks for the reading suggestions, I will definitely get those.
 
  • #12
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
616
Wow, I didn't know people with PhDs were on this site!

Thanks for the reading suggestions, I will definitely get those.
You can't swing a virtual dead cat without hitting a half dozen PhDs on this site :smile:!
 
  • #13
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You can't swing a virtual dead cat without hitting a half dozen PhDs on this site :smile:!
I was about to do a facepalm, but deep inside I had to smile. :smile:
 
  • #14
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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I was about to do a facepalm, but deep inside I had to smile. :smile:
Your inner dork wants to lol...:tongue2:
 
  • #15
G01
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,665
16
I got bored with math in high school too. Once I started on calculus it became much, much more interesting. I've now got my Masters in physics and am working on my PhD.

Hang in there. :smile:

Wow, I didn't know people with PhDs were on this site!
The best part about this site is that there are so many, real, practicing scientists here. If you ask a question about science or studying science in highschool/college/gradschool you can be sure that there are alot of people on PF who have been through it all and can offer good advice.
 
  • #16
Are you taking an algebra-based HS physics right now... all that vector, kinematics/motion, conservation of momentum/energy stuff? ...That class that most of your classmates despise? And you enjoy it? In that case, you might be cut out to be a physicist (especially if you enjoy showing off smart you are, or scaring people away with your perceived brain-power... that's really why I ended up getting all my degrees).

Especially if you liked your first algebra class and geometry, hang in there. Some of the higher mathematics (probability, linear algebra, and calculus) are a lot of fun. I really didn't like my required "algebra II" class (which seemed a repeat of algebra 1) or pre-calc (which was only made fun through a lot of goofing off with classmates). But I really liked my last math class of high school (a class they just called "Math V" -- but which covered things like probability, logic, linear algebra, and calculus at a surprisingly accelerated pace).
 
  • #17
173
0
Thanks for the very encouraging information!
 

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