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Do I really like physics? is this normal?

  1. Nov 29, 2007 #1
    classical physics bores the hell out of me. I could give a damn about the velocity of object 'a' given time and distance.

    but when I read about quantum physics, relativity etc., my mind is fully alert, and I zone in on the topic at hand. I do not comprehend the idea of 'sleepiness' when I read these topics.

    I know I must understand classical physics first to lay the foundation, before I get into the advanced topics. I'm willing to put in the time for this.

    but is this normal? I mean, I know only I can answer the questions 'do I really like physics', but can anyone relate to my situation? or is physics going to be a short lived 'fad' for me?

    edit: I just re-read my post, and I think it's kind of a tough question for others to answer for me, I guess I'm not looking for an answer. Rather, I'm hoping to find others that love physics now who've gone through what I'm going through with classical physics.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2007 #2
    Are you in introductory physics or intermediate classical physics? The interesting thing about the physics of point particles is the differential equations, but you wouldn't get to that in an introductory course.
  4. Nov 29, 2007 #3
    I'm taking a high school physics class.

    I still havn't decided what to major in yet, for the upcoming year in University.

    I love math. The harder it is, the more it interests me.

    I love physics too, but just not the physics I'm learning right now.
  5. Nov 29, 2007 #4
    I think its more high school than physics that is causing your lack of interest in physics class. I was the same way with my HS math classes (luckily had a good, interesting physics class tho). Is your physics teacher the type who would teach you fun stuff outside of class if you asked? If not, I recommend you self-study and perhaps contact someone at a local university or something to help you out.

    If you want a good classical physics book, and you are pretty good with calculus, I recommend Kleppner and Kolenkow "Introduction to Mechanics." If you are not yet good with calculus, learning calculus is the prereq to any interesting physics (pop physics books without any math may be fun but aren't particularly useful) and might be fun irregardless of the physics.
  6. Nov 29, 2007 #5
    I found high school and freshmen-level classical mechanics to be fairly boring as well. I find upper-level Lagrangian and Hamiltonian classical mechanics to be much more interesting. Maybe it's just me, but it wasn't until I took an upper-level classical mechanics class did I realize how fundamentally it connected all the other physics subfields.

    Good luck with your decisions.
  7. Nov 30, 2007 #6
    I felt just the same about mechanics,basic EM etc.But the truth is,that after you put the effort to "complete" and "comprehend" these topics,the other topics you really like will be easier and even more interesting to learn.Well,actually the same goes for many things,like learning languages.Grammar syntax etc. are usually very boring...that doesn't mean you don't like the language you're learning.After learning the basics and are able to compose phrases,chat etc.,it begins to become fun.So,don't worry about that,I'm sure there are lots of people who feel/have felt like that.

    About classical mechanics (lang/ham etc.) I found them more interesting and enjoyable too.Maybe it's the more extensive use of advanced math.
  8. Nov 30, 2007 #7
    good good!!! I was hoping to hear this.

    can't wait to learn the advanced math behind modern physics. And also the physics itself beyond a layman's understanding.

    I just started touching on calculus, and the idea behind it is tremendously fascinating to me.
  9. Dec 1, 2007 #8
    When I encountered high school physics I was not interested much... it, along with math, seemed pretty uninteresting and useless. I was practical so I went to college as as engineer, but I eventually realized that the things that mattered were essentially physics and math. I then became interested in signal processing (for engineering) and quantum mechanics (for phyics). Then I realized this was all part of functional analysis, and I ended up looking into that, with the result being that I found noncommutative geometry(NCG). Now, I've got degrees in physics and math and I'm a grad student intending on pursuing research in NCG. I'm not by any means suggesting taking the the path that I have, as you have to do what is in accord with yourself, but you really shouldn't count anything out at the highschool level! I've known many people with physics or engineering degrees that realize they don't want to do that for the rest of their lives. Right know you have to just pursue your passions and later evaluate if this was the right choice. Since that is very general, I'll add some practical (yet still general)advice; know that classical physics is the basics for further developments and study it with intensity. If you don't care at all about classical physics, then you're probably not going to do well in the field. You may want to look into something else.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2007
  10. Dec 1, 2007 #9
    I'm just like you, i dont really care about velocity and acceleration but i have a two hour conversation with someone about lasers and an photon having a mass.
  11. Dec 1, 2007 #10
    I found my freshman year physics class really fun. Especially mechanics and em. In general, I enjoy the subject at hand when I'm matured enough to fully understand. On the other hand, I don't enjoy as much when I'm forced to study things that I'm not ready to fully understand. I had all my calculus done when I took my first year mechanics class. I had such a fun time and learned a lot of physics. But when I was taking modern physics class, quantum mechanics was not fun at all since I didn't understand it. I could be very wrong here. But I gotta say you can't understand QM until you've touched upon advanced math topics.

    I just woke up, so I'm not all clear in what I'm trying to say....but here's what I want really want to say you should quickly figure out why you're not having fun with mechanics when you claim that you like physics! In my opinion you could be,

    1) bored with the level of class, not the subject
    2) bored with the subject, cuz you are not ready to appreciate the materials
    3) just like QM/SR because you read them in cartoon book

    For case 1) I suggest you go check out some texts that might be more challenging and interesting. 2) Only you can figure out whether or not you belong to this case 3) This was my case. Back in high school I liked QM because of books like such. But I can be sure now, at that time, I hadn't had slightest idea what QM really is about.
  12. Dec 1, 2007 #11
    The only reason I did physics through to A-level was because I'd read about more interesting subjects and wanted to follow up on them properly... which is why I'm now doing a degree in it :biggrin:
    Mechanics isn't generally very exciting- my classical mech lecturer last year happily admitted as much- but it's a whole lot better with calculus than without it.
  13. Dec 1, 2007 #12


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    Unfortunately, boredom in high school physics classes appears to be a common problem. Not everyone of us is lucky enough to have good physics teachers in high school, such as Chi Meson here, or this teacher, or this teacher, or this teacher, or this teacher, ..... You get my message.

    You should not confuse the way the subject is being communicated, with the subject matter itself. You should also give yourself some time, because while it can be frustrating, a lot more interesting areas of "exploration" will eventually open up, even in classical mechanics. Remember that Feynman got a jolt when he learned about calculus of variation and the Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics, that eventually led him to the path integral method. This is the same classical mechanics that you are learning right now with those velocity and other dynamical problems.

  14. Nov 5, 2010 #13
    Actually, I am having same problems here... so I switch my mind into the logical structure of Newton Mechanics, but it ends up that I spend many time wasted on thinking of what actually mass and force are. However, I have a better view after such a mistake.
    Sometimes, I guess it is all about "trying and learning" :D
    Cheers up.
  15. Nov 5, 2010 #14
    I think the usual level high school physics is taught at is going to be very boring for someone who is actually interested in physics for its own sake. But before you can learn the really interesting stuff, you have to know calculus, so make sure you get that down really well, and then differential equations. These are the key that unlock the cool physics. The other main math ingredient is linear algebra. When you learn linear algebra, you might not see how it is relevant to physics, but it is essential to understanding quantum mechanics.

    Also, if you do major in physics, you might find upper-level classical mechanics classes less boring than you imagine. There is some interesting math in them. Also it's not all "calculate the position of this point particle at time t." For example, if you throw an empty bottle in the air with some spin about its axis it will wobble around that axis in addition to spinning; why does it do that, and how can you calculate it? This was one of the more interesting problems for me.
  16. Nov 5, 2010 #15
    In my opinion the first two years of physics in university are also pretty boring, mainly because there simply isn't enough math to learn anything substantial at that point. After that Lagrangian mechanics is awesome, QM is alright (in my opinion), and GR is amazing. But first year mechanics and all that high school stuff is horrible (and I got straight 60's through most of it).

    So yes, it's normal to dislike the low-level sort of stuff. Though I DID really enjoy learning about electric fields in high school...
  17. Nov 5, 2010 #16
    I don't really get why anyone would consider things like quantum any more interesting than finding the velocity of particle X at position Y. Sure it is boring to study things you already get but I don't think that you would be complaining if you didn't have to study.

    Physics is about learning how the world works, position and velocity for example aren't really trivial concepts. The problem isn't the physics but you. You think that you do already understand most things about these things but in reality you don't. Be happy that you are allowed to get this much clearer picture rather than fumbling in the darkness like most do. Most thinks that just because you have seen and used a term often they do understand it, but it isn't true.

    Physics is not about cool sounding terms or strange phenomenas, physics is about getting a clear picture on how the world works. If you prefer the former then I wouldn't say that you like physics, then you like science fiction. If you really like to understand more about how the world works then stop tricking yourself into believing that what you are learning right now doesn't accomplish that goal.
  18. Nov 5, 2010 #17
    I know a few people with Physics Ph.D.s that would disagree with you. Some of my professors get positively giddy when talking about strange phenomena in physics.

    (oh look, it's a 3 year necropost. I wonder what the OP chose to study in college.)
  19. May 23, 2012 #18
    Hey I kind of have the same problem you had back in '07. I am just about to enter my senior year of high school and I absolutely love physics. It's just Mechanics which screws me all up because my physics teacher just zipped right through the subject and we just focused more on forces, electricty, modern physics, etc. I hope you might come back on the forum and tell us if you followed physics in college. I would love to hear how it's going after 5 1/2 years!
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