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Physics Do I have the wrong physics mindset?

  1. Aug 13, 2011 #1
    Hey guys, so you've no doubt seen my various threads, sometimes downright arrogant, about my interpretations of physics..and I recently watched a documentary about Feynman and I must tell you that it got me thinking about our HUGE differences (not including the obvious intellectual ones since he was a genius). He had this intense love and respect for nature and didn't want to have any predetermined notions about how he believed the universe should work. I recall a quote in which he remarked, "You don't like it. Go to another universe." Maybe that's part of the reason why he was so successful, because he was impartial in judging nature ("She will come out how she wants to come out"), and maybe that allowed him to see through nature's veil? I don't know..

    I guess what I'm asking is, is it so wrong to study nature with a sort of playful, intuitionistic preconception of how the world should work? I guess this might have something to do with your religious values too. Anyways, do you guys feel that I should leave the physics scene if I can't overcome my preconceived notions about how I think the world should work, and that something truly fundamental and beautiful underlies nature at the heart of things..? Is it so wrong that I wish nature to be tame, poetic and understandable?

    I know that Einstein had the same beliefs as I, and that's probably why he rejected quantum mechanics and sought something truly fundamental. But now that I'm starting to read about all sorts of experimental evidence for QM, I must say that I'm starting to really believe that God does play dice..and I feel like I should leave the scene at once before I run into even more disappointments..

    Thus, as the time to apply to graduate school nears, I can't help but get the feeling that Feynman was indeed right and Einstein was wrong. More specifically, I am thinking I should save myself many years of toil in grad school and just move on to another subject, perhaps one in which arrogance and creativity are welcome, like computer science..

    I know this all seems like some sort of an emotional diary, maybe it is, but at any rate any feedback would still be gladly appreciated...


  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2011 #2


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    imo, everyone has their own perceptions of the world and different approach in doing things.
    Change your ways if it is going to make your life easier, as long as they feel right to you.

    I tend to avoid associating my beliefs with other people's. eg. "I believe in whose and whose ideas" etc. There are those who have guided you, but your ideas and your knowledge are yours.

    As to whether you should leave the field of physics, i don't think so. I mean, your perception of the world has carried you this far, don't you want to see how much further you can go?

    it is always difficult to look at things the way some other people do. Not just because we are looking at them with different sets of eyes but we also draw our conclusions using different approaches. There is no way to tell for sure who has it right or wrong. As far as I'm concerned it probably doesn't matter. People simply need to have new ideas all the time to make life interesting.

    I hope this helps, I have probably gone off topic a bit...
  4. Aug 14, 2011 #3


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    Yes, you should consider quitting. If you have a pre-conceived notion as to what is right and wrong, any respectable scientific field is not the place for you. Einstein was wrong... and not just on one occasion. No one is right all the time... and in fact, it seems like people are wrong MOST of the time.

    Quantum mechanics isn't some vague theory that people just speak about and don't know how true it is. Quantum mechanics has been verified to ridiculous accuracies. Sure, you could spend the rest of your life trying to create a more accurate way of describing the world that somehow doesn't rely on randomness yet correctly describes the world...... but don't quit your day job.
  5. Aug 14, 2011 #4
    Rather than running away from physics because the evidence challenges your preconceived notions, why not challenge your preconceived notions using the evidence?
  6. Aug 14, 2011 #5

    This is VERY wrong.

    One of the first things I learned in physics is that if you do experiments and assume that things must work out like X because it makes sense in the world as you know it, you ARE going to screw up. You can't do physics when your mind is full of preconceived notions about how the world should be.

    If your religious values stop you from seeing reality, you should quit your religion. Yes, I'm a happy atheist, thank you very much. And if you cannot overcome your preconceived notions about the universe, then yes, you should not study physics.

    HOWEVER, I don't quite see your point. You seem to be under the impression that if you let go of these preconceived notions about the universe and allow the scientific method to guide you in your studies, nature is no longer poetic, and become less understandable and tame. This is ridiculous. At the moment, you do NOT understand the universe because of these preconceived notions you have. The thing is that once you start studying physics, you come to know how much you actually don't know! And that's fine, you only get to know and understand more. The only difference is that now you know that you're ignorant.

    Coming from a religious family, I know that this is very difficult for many people. Many religious people tend to look down on science as if it were the utmost form of arrogance. The thing is: science does not claim to know things it doesn't know. *shrugs* But I'll stop here before it turns into a debate on religions. (So, no, this is not meant as a rebuke against religions. 'twas meant for giving a reason why I think many religious people have trouble in the sciences.)

    Obviously, Einstein was wrong here.

    But I still don't see your point. First certain things were not completely determinable due to this wonderful Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Now you know about it. What's gone wrong? The universe didn't start working differently.

    If you're worried about finding out the truth because it might destroy your religious views, you should a.) probably not be in physics, and b.) change your views.

    Arrogance isn't a welcome addition in a single field. Just so you know.

    As for creativity, why in the name of all that is holy do you keep talking about physics as if we are all uncreative emotionless idiots? This, to me, seems much more arrogant than everything you have said before. Creativity IS welcome in physics. Especially for those who will do research. The whole point of research is being able to come up with and test clever ideas other people can't come up with.

    I suggest taking a good look at your underlying motivations for wanting to leave the field. I don't say you should stay with physics, because, quite frankly, you don't seem to want that. However, there appear to be some other issues you might want to think about.
  7. Aug 14, 2011 #6


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    Until you get your head around the idea that "the world" does't give a **** about what you think it should be like, you are wasting your time trying to do science.

    It's not "wrong" if you are a poet. It's totally wrong if you are a physicist.

    Both poets and physicists have value, but trying to be both at once is not a good plan.
  8. Aug 14, 2011 #7
    "I know that Einstein had the same beliefs as I" - Are you sure you didn't read about Einstein's beliefs and choose to believe those as well in hopes people would draw a connection between you and Einstein?

    I'm really getting a kick out of all of these physics majors who want to go into computer science. And although you could say that CS students and programmers are a bit arrogant, they do good work and most really enjoy it. I see far more arrogance in the pure physics field. Every physics guy thinks they are automatically qualified for any job in engineering, and it's just not the case. I feel like anyone who studies physics goes around thinking, "Hey, I'm a physicist. Look out, I'm probably going to be the next Einstein. Hehe."
  9. Aug 14, 2011 #8
    What's your beef with physicists, anyway? Did they "steal" all the girls you were daydreaming about or what? You seemed to have come to a physics forum to spam it, and dump crap all over people studying physics. Cool down a bit.
  10. Aug 14, 2011 #9
    Much like religion, physics is a calling. You don't need to ask others "should I believe?", so don't ask us "Should I appreciate nature?"

    EDIT: to be a bit more helpful:
    I see in previous threads that you have problems with how physics is presented, especially in university, and that's not wrong, it might be good even, but most of all it doesn't really matter and it just means you need to find your own way. Realize there are places that talk about the things you do not see treated in an average QM course. However, if your beef is with mother nature herself, then I refer back to my original post.
  11. Aug 15, 2011 #10
    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to put physicists down. I was just angered about the fact that there were about 6 threads on the first page with physics majors asking if they are qualified for software engineering and other engineering fields.
  12. Aug 15, 2011 #11
    Asking doesn't hurt, does it?? There's no need to call people arrogant for that. :frown:

    And to the OP: yes, you should consider quitting. Having the incorrect mindset in physics is a bad thing. Obviously, you should have your intuition, but your intuition should be guided by experiments and calculations. From these things, you should develop new intuition.

    If you feel threatened by the truth in physics, then quit. Stay with your (wrong) point-of-views if it makes you happy. Happiness comes first.
  13. Aug 16, 2011 #12


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    Just for fun, talking about arrogant physics students ;)

    I recall a guy in one programming course I took. He was one of the guys in class that considered himself a master hacker and natural born programmer (and he Wasn't) and he always argued with and tried to master the teacher about during classes and he always ended up embarassing himself. Indeed he Was one of the guys that had the most prior (pre-university) experience with programming, but he just largely and consistently overestimated himself. I remember he later also got himself expelled from the university computer system for 1 year after beeing caught leaving/planting a stealth password cracking software on the main server.

    My experience is that this kind of attitude is most common the first year before most people come to face reality that "No I am not the next Einstein, No I am not the best hacker ever, ...".

    Take any first year class, be it comp sci or physics and there's often someone who has such an initial attitude.

  14. Aug 17, 2011 #13


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    It is actually not that hard to get into software. I have been working in the software field for 15 years and I have seen people with all kinds of backgrounds...comp sci, math, business, psychology, geology..one of the smartest developers I knew did not have a college degree and had worked as a secretary before working her way into being a developer. I also worked with a guy who had a PhD in comp sci and he was not particularly impressive.
    The hardest part of getting into software is getting the first job. If you can get a position that is even remotely close to being a programmer (e.g. Data entry), you can work it into a programmer job
  15. Aug 17, 2011 #14
    hawking, einstein, and many others have ended up being wrong about more than one thing in his/her lifetime. its okay to be wrong in science, i mean, we dont know much about how the world and universe and even our own minds work relative to the whole of it all. you should learn from your mistakes, your wrong presumptions. einstein would have had to accept his wrong and continue on even if it wasnt what we wanted [QM was devastating to his work on a 'theory of everything'] he was fantastic but you cant expect nature or science to live up to your notions of how it SHOULD be. we are merely human, we should let nature show us it's ways, and my fascinated and even stunned. but i feel like you may be disgusted, because your preconceptions and religion obviously explained everything for you prior to your awakening to the truth. accept the truth and deviate from your previous assumptions. i personally think religion is very counterproductive for any scientist....just open your mind. i urge you to look into Q&M, philosophy of consciousness, and many other paradoxical theories, especially illusions. youll soon realize that everything you know may just be wrong..but you should eventually be able to accept it and see beauty in it like i and many others have. good luck!
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