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Do Physics classes get more interesting?

  1. Sep 30, 2011 #1
    I'm a senior in HS. Took AP Physics B last year had a 93 avg and got a 5 on the AP. Taking Ap Physics C this year. Started reading "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene and learning about astronomy over the summer. I really like this kind of stuff but the actual class, Physics B and C are both really boring. What i was reading about over the summer made me think about majoring in physics but my actual physics classes in school are really boring, is this how it would be in college?

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  3. Sep 30, 2011 #2


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    Depends on your high school, but if mine was any indication, the AP physics classes are a joke. I'm pretty sure you would find college-level physics classes more interesting (at least more challenging).
  4. Sep 30, 2011 #3


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    Yes. You are reading popular science which is nothing like what real physics is like. No matter what field you go into, the popular texts are all about the 'cool' aspects, much of which is written in a misleading manner, and never tell you about all the basics you must learn over years of study. So yes, your first couple of years, if you choose physics, will be full of tough, sometimes uninteresting, basic concepts and ideas. However, at the end of the day, you would be looking at all the cool concepts you read about in popular books.

    This is the same problem in most fields though.
  5. Sep 30, 2011 #4
    So, I should still consider studying physics even though I don't like my high school classes?
  6. Sep 30, 2011 #5


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    Yes, you can always switch out if you don't like it. To really get a feeling for what physics is like, you'll have to talk to people outside yoru classes, professors, grad students. They'll give you a good idea of what physics is like and you can determine whether or not it's the field for you.
  7. Sep 30, 2011 #6
    Great, thanks. I'm writing my supplement to Lehigh right now about astrophysics, haha..
  8. Sep 30, 2011 #7
    Be warned: studying physics and mathematics is nothing like the things you read in the pop-sci books. If your only reason to go into physics is because of the pop-sci books, then you'd better think twice.

    Why don't you enjoy physics right now?? If it is because you're not being challenged and things are too easy, then college physics will be something for you.
    If it is because you don't like the concepts and the way of thinking, then chances are that you might not enjoy the actual physics.
  9. Sep 30, 2011 #8
    I guess it's because it's nothing like what I'm reading. I like to think about cosmology and stuff but doing something like a projectile motion problem is really boring. Even though I do well, it's definitely not too easy, I usually need to get help with homework and study with other people. Maybe it's because there is a lot more math than I want?
  10. Sep 30, 2011 #9
    OMG! Physics gets much more interesting the more you are open to it's application, in my opinion. Think about it, what's much more interesting than gaining the power and knowledge to do the craziest things you could ever do in the world. I don't understand some people. Well, if you think that calculating forces, velocities, torques, energies, etc. are pointless, I believe you have not found the interest in physics. If you could calculate the forces involved in a chair at an angle, then you could calculuate the forces involed in electricity. If the possibilities of the application are that broad, physics should be interesting to anyone, because the more you know, the better you can apply it to anything really.
  11. Sep 30, 2011 #10


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    Physics C gets fun once you go into electrostatics =D. Anyways, things like QM and GR proper are incredibly interesting and imo the mathematics is what makes it incredibly interesting to begin with. Its very, very, very fun to toy around with physical concepts as profound as those entrenched in QM and GR using mathematics from linear algebra, differential geometry etc. It may seem like the classical harmonic oscillator or parabolic motion are trivial and somewhat dry but everything is fundamental for what comes later in theoretical physics.
  12. Sep 30, 2011 #11
    If you don't like to do the math, then physics will be nothing for you. Math is so very important in physics that you'll have to like it. Physics is not philosophizing about the end of the universe or black holes. That kind of physics is really math intensive.

    Applying mathematics to physical problems is the cornerstone of physics. Being able to solve a projective motion with mathematics might be boring, but all physics problems are solved in the same mathematical way.

    Thinking about quarks, anti-matter and muons might be nice, but it's not like real physics.
  13. Sep 30, 2011 #12


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    AP physics is more math than you want?

    In that case, I should probably take back what I said earlier. College-level physics is much more mathematically intensive than AP, so if it's the amount of math in your class now that turns you off, you're probably going to like a more advanced physics class even less.
  14. Sep 30, 2011 #13


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    This is a giant red flag. Physics is applied math. Physics isn't about sitting around thinking up crazy ideas and concepts. The math and basic ideas and experimental results are what lead to what are sometimes crazy, spectacular ideas. No string theorist or cosmologist or what have you would even blink at doing mathematics that you are still a decade off from seeing.

    It's like engineering. Engineers create spectacular things not based off what they want to be possible, but what is currently available and state-of-the-art. A craftsman is worthless without his hammer and hail :)
  15. Sep 30, 2011 #14
    "Be warned: studying physics and mathematics is nothing like the things you read in the pop-sci books. If your only reason to go into physics is because of the pop-sci books, then you'd better think twice.

    Why don't you enjoy physics right now?? If it is because you're not being challenged and things are too easy, then college physics will be something for you.
    If it is because you don't like the concepts and the way of thinking, then chances are that you might not enjoy the actual physics."

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TRUE! That's maybe why my 9th grade integrated science teacher didn't like my "adhd" mind. I tried thinking in terms of math and he tried to get me to think in terms of pop-science saying "ray! this is not a math class!" like I was retarted.
  16. Sep 30, 2011 #15
    When you get to E@M you get to use fancy line and surface integrals symbols that's kind of cool. Try to think about how these ideas like conservation of energy and F=MA can be applied to dark holes and string theories and you would see how remarkable and amazing these ideas are.
  17. Sep 30, 2011 #16
    One thing that should be pointed out, is that most people who study physics end up working on problems that no one outside of physics even know exist. In fact, if - for example - you are working on a problem in electron optics, you will talk to a particle physicist and they will have a very difficult time understanding your work.

    If you are genuinely interest in the stuff that makes the cover of Scientific American, you can certainly choose an institution and courses based on the goal of getting to work on those problems. But a lot of people start studying physics because of those physics 'porn' topics, but end up enjoying working on something a lot more concrete like medical imaging or solid state physics.

    If you dislike the mathematics and find it too difficult, then you will only find it gets worse as you go further. The learning curve for the mathematics is very steep, and in order to have a good foundation in physics, you will learn a breadth of topics, most of which you will probably find boring.

    There were things I always found boring, but now I actually need to use a lot of those concepts in order to solve problems that I'm working on and they have become interesting to me. It also helps when you understand things better. I really disliked crystallography in second year, but by fourth year I was understanding the concepts a lot better and the courses were going into a lot more detail about it. Also, at higher levels, all these different topics start to look like aspects of the same thing. You can always draw parallels between different topics, and any mathematical 'tricks' you learn will be applicable to a wide range of topics. In some ways this makes it easier, but the mathematics is still very difficult.

    The main thing is whether it is worth it to you. I was never that good at mathematics, but I wanted to learn physics so much that I put in everything I had. If it's worth it to you and you put in the effort, you will enjoy it.
  18. Sep 30, 2011 #17
    projectile motion gives me kinetic energy! Torque gives me potential Energy! why, because in a projectile motion, I obtain the desired energy to move a distance and torque gives me the tendency to want to stay still and not move at all! haha idk if that made sense. Im just be a bit random. Just don't punish me for it. haha
  19. Sep 30, 2011 #18


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    There is nothing wrong with using projectile problems to illustrate basic physical concepts, along with supporting labs. These are Pons Asinorum exercises, IMO, and should be covered in HS. Physics gets a lot more interesting later on.

    The same argument can be extended to about any rigorous field of study. I liked chemistry in HS. I liked chemistry in first-year engineering, and I LOVED the labs. Qualitative and quantitative analysis were so fun (the labs, that is).
  20. Oct 1, 2011 #19
    If you don't like doing projectile problems then physics is not for you! College physics is a serious of harder projectile problems *not* a series of popular physics books.

    I really liked doing projectile problems at school, and even through undergraduate studies. I got a bit sick of it by the time I was doing my MSc - but at least I enjoyed doing physics *most* of my time, and could then get a well paying job using similar skills (programming...) For fun I now read Dickens (and maybe the odd Brian Greene book...)

    What do you *really* enjoy doing at school - do that at college. You don't like any of it? Forget college and be a plumber - they make big money, are always in demand, have plenty of free time to read Brian Greene (or whatever...) and you don't have to suffer years of learning stuff you hate for less than zero cash...

    Don't want to get your hands dirty? Go work for a large department store. You could be CEO by the time you are forty and earning a seven figure salary... Selling jeans, and then managing the people who sell jeans, will be a loss less harrowing than beating your head against the wall trying to do hard projectile problems for four years - unless you are of the strange ilk who actually like doing these problems....
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  21. Oct 1, 2011 #20
    Haha, I'm surprised by the harshness of some posters because someone doesn't find projectile motion all that interesting. I also didn't really enjoy the introductory freshman type of mechanics all that much. I thought the topics taught in the intermediate level mechanics was great though, even when that included projectile motion because 1) it was more realistic type of scenarios and 2) because of 1, it was more mathematically rigorous.

    To answer the subject at hand though, if you feel like you enjoy the ideas of physics in general, I am of the opinion that you would enjoy some the more advanced courses. Just keep in mind that the first part any of the courses you take must teach the basics before you get to more of the applications.
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