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Job Skills Do Scientist memorize everything they learned?

  1. Aug 19, 2017 #1
    I'm a 17-year-old high-school student aspiring to be a scientist (either a biologist, physicist or cosmologist), and I watched a video a while ago about How to prepare to be a physicist. He (the guy who made a video is also a physicist) said that scientists usually don't remember/memorize everything they learner, this includes: terms, equations, formulas, etc. and that sometimes scientist resort to using the internet, books, etc. to remember them.

    So, my question to the scientists and professionals in sciences is, Do scientist (all type of scientist) remember/memorize every single thing they learned inside their heads without recurring to other sources? or they usually/sometimes forget stuff they learned?

    I seriously need to know, because I'm a little bit paranoid when remembering facts, terms, and equation, I learned in my science classes in the past. For example, I sometimes re-read what is a polar molecule, polar bonds, equation of friction, the mechanics of evolution, how to read chemical formulas, the stoichiometry of chemical formulas, type of chemical reactions, periodicity trends, the nomenclature etc. everytime I forget or I just wanted to review them once again, because I think I need to memorize all those things for the future.
     
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  3. Aug 19, 2017 #2

    wukunlin

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    After completing your undergraduate degrees, you should understand the concepts enough to derive a lot of the equations. For more complex equations, you shouldn't need to memorize them, unless you are using it everyday, but when you are given these formelae, you should definitely recognize the terms.
     
  4. Aug 19, 2017 #3

    phinds

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    If you want to memorize things, become a taxonomist or a stamp collector. Remembering things can be helpful but counts approximately zero compared to UNDERSTANDING things, which is where physicists put their emphasis.
     
  5. Aug 19, 2017 #4
    I like to tell my students that Google is an extension of my brain.
     
  6. Aug 19, 2017 #5

    fresh_42

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    Physics and mathematics is one of the few sciences in which it is more important to know the concepts and meanings rather than any wordings. Of course the more you deal with a concept, a theorem or a definition, the more you will memorize it. A basis is needed, for otherwise you'll start always from scratch. Details can be looked up, but a general stock is more than convenient. You don't want to look up what a continuous function is or what the difference between force and momentum is, every time you use it.

    However, compared with medicine, biology, chemistry, pharmacology, history, legal sciences and many more, it is far less needed to memorize everything you've read. The principle is more important than the data. It's one of the advantages over other sciences. This doesn't mean not to memorize anything, just less. You won't need to know the exact value of a constant, whereas, e.g. in medicine you should be able to memorize typical values of a blood panel and many more.

    I remember an exam in which the student was asked what a linear mapping is. The answer was a perfect definition, but asked, what it means or to give some examples, there had been a big emptiness. At the end it was a "C" and I doubt the student ever found out why.
     
  7. Aug 19, 2017 #6

    wukunlin

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    This popped into my mind

     
  8. Aug 21, 2017 #7
    It's impossible to know every equation.
     
  9. Aug 21, 2017 #8

    phinds

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    For some reason this reminds me of the famous Steven Wright line "you can't have everything ... where would you put it?"
     
  10. Aug 22, 2017 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    The thread title has some Steven Wright about it: "Do Scientist memorize everything they learned?" - well, to learn is to commit to memory, so I'd say "yes". By construction!
     
  11. Aug 23, 2017 #10

    Choppy

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    Of course they don't remember everything.

    They do however, tend to remember a lot. And that's because they've studied a lot, understood the material, and have had it reinforced through repeated, meaningful use. Remember that by the time someone becomes a "scientist" they have gone through years of undergraduate study where they were highly successful. Then they got into graduate school, completed graduate coursework, and passed a comprehensive examination, candidacy examination, and finally a thesis defence. As post-docs they then successfully drove additional research projects forward. Just the way a lot of the stuff that you learned earlier in your schooling seems "second nature" to you, much of what they learned at the undergraduate and even graduate level has become second nature to them if they've worked with it enough.

    Stuff that isn't used often has to be looked up.

    Thinking that you shouldn't have to look something up can be a recipe for disaster, too. Most successful scientists learn that's its better to look things up and confirm that you're right the fist time, rather then screw up an experiment or simulation because you didn't bother.
     
  12. Aug 23, 2017 #11
    Abdallah,

    It's understanding that's important as stated or implied by people here. It's likely that in your career you will use only a tiny fraction of things you have learned. But that doesn't necessarily mean to say that you have forgotten the rest. What is more likely is that the stuff you never use is locked away somewhere in the recesses of your brain and you can't easily get immediate access to it. I would describe the locked away stuff as partially forgotten.
    Whenever you come across a situation where you need to use some of that partially forgotten stuff you can easily look it up and I think you will find that if you understood it well in the first place it comes back to you fairly easily.
     
  13. Aug 23, 2017 #12

    Meir Achuz

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    Premeds memorize. That's why doctors can't understand unusual symptoms.
    Physicists work things out step-by-step. If you understand an equation, you don't have to memorize it.
     
  14. Aug 23, 2017 #13
    I am an engineer. I memorized the integral form of the conservation laws (fluids). I memorized the integral form of maxwells equations (electronics). I understand that summation of force equals change in momentum. I understand that a closed geometric loop sums to zero. Force balance doesnt give you enough equations for a design. You have to go to geometry. All I really memorized. Then derive what you need based on the problem at hand. Most of the low level concepts in the hard sciences are taught without explanation of all the assumptions that where used to answer the problem. Make sure you understand what assumptions where used and don't take everything your teacher tells you as fact. Most of the facts are really just half truths with lots of assumptions. I remember pointing out to my professor and the class that the arthur of our text book for heat and mass transfer never defined that the heat equation was assumed to be constant pressure and constant volume process. Figured that out myself by looking at the conservation laws. Every equation should list it's assumptions if any where used to create it. Lastly for Empirical Equations, try not to use polynomials. You may not know how many derivatives you will need to solve the problem at hand. Polynomials only have so many derivatives.

    Hope this helps. Trying to give you what where my hard hitters in school and what is still working for me.
     
  15. Aug 29, 2017 #14
    Like every one else has stated, no you are not expected to memorize everything. Some critical concepts will stay with you. However, in my opinion the most important thing to be aware of , or at least recognize are the assumptions made behind the derivation of formulas to be used (very important for us Engineers because sometimes the formula may not apply)
     
  16. Sep 30, 2017 #15
    I often tell my students that Google is an extension of my brain.
     
  17. Sep 30, 2017 #16

    symbolipoint

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    One remembers what One studies enough and what one uses often, NUMBERS included. Otherwise, one forgets many things studied.

    The subject area of Languages is a good possible choice of study. Ask yourself WHY, and WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT?
     
  18. Oct 7, 2017 #17

    symbolipoint

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    An interest in the learning and study of languages would be consistent with that.
     
  19. Oct 9, 2017 #18
    My professor and research advisor had to ask me what what Maxwell's equations are :D
     
  20. Nov 11, 2017 #19
    Well, not to my knowledge. Chances are you'll have thins like textbooks, google, paper archives and databases, etc., to do the memorization for you. All you really have to do is understand what you're learning. Even if that subject is hardly understood.
     
  21. Nov 24, 2017 #20
    Many of my physics tests in college were open book, or at least had an equation sheet to use.

    The true test of a physicist is the ability to find and explain the answer given all the resources at your disposal. The answer to the question is not important, how you arrived at that answer is.
     
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