1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Dilemma: I want to be a physicist, but I'm mediocre in classical mechanics

  1. Dec 16, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone.

    I'm having a little crisis here. I'm really really good in math (I'm doing calculus right now, and it's a breeze), but classical mechanics are giving me a hard time. I'm also doing general chemistry right now and I find it fun and easy as well. Basically, the more abstract something is, the better I understand it.

    And I wanted to study more abstract subjects such as quantum mechanics, or string theory. Seeing as classical mechanics does not come as naturally to me as math, I was wondering if I should pursue this career.


    Edit: I haven't done optics and electricity yet.
    Edit 2: I do have good grades, As, but it doesn't come to me naturally.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2012 #2
    From your post, I'm assuming you're a freshman in college. At that level, you haven't been exposed to any more advanced topics in anything, so it's really hard to say what you're "good" at and what you're "bad" at. Calculus is usually a cake walk for physicists, so be careful about saying that you're really really good at math. Wait until you're get to at least the intermediate courses before you decide what your strengths and weaknesses are.

    In my experience, elementary physics courses seldom make sense because you are only taught bits and pieces of things and are usually told "here's a problem; here's an equation to solve that problem". You can't fully understand where anything comes from because that would require a higher level of math than you have.
  4. Dec 16, 2012 #3
    From reading your post I get the sense that you are a first year undergraduate, about to finish his/her first semester. So what I would say is that you are not learning "Classical Mechanics" but rather introductory Newtonian Mechanics, which in my opinion was always more or less a class on physical intuition. You might enjoy Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism taught in more advanced Mechanics courses rather than Newtonian, which is much more mathematical in its approach to solving problems and less "seeing" forces.

    I would suggest waiting until after Electromagnetism before making your decision, you will find it much more mathematical in its approach than Newtonian mechanics, as is the rest of modern physics.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook