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Do you share my feelings for physics?

  1. Aug 21, 2014 #1
    I was talking to my classmates at university and I noticed something that really disliked me. I started to notice that almost everyone that was there, was working hard for no reason at all other than achieving something. Some where trying to get an A in a middle exam, others trying to publish some work, others obsessed with winning a competition, even one of them was crazy for winning a Fields medal...

    Anyway, the reason I was there working today is not easily described with words, here is a short story that will help you understand it.

    I heard some years ago of one very interesting neurologist. He was a very rich, professional and serious guy, good wife, big house, etc.. Getting to his 50s, he suffered some kind of temporary brain disease that forced him to stop working for some time. During his sabbatical, he started to realize that he wasn't really happy with his life, that everything he did was because he was supposed to do it. He looked back in his younger years and realize that the only time he had been actually happy was a long time ago, when he learned to (roller)skate. He remembered the sensation of skating on one foot as the only thing he has ever really like. So he decided to quit his job, leave his material wife, sell his house; and go to live near the sea, where everyday he goes out at 7 am, skate on one foot until 7 pm, with a big smile on his face.

    Ok, so I have been thinking about this guy lately. What do you think he would say if some crazy person stop him during daily way and say to him: "Congratulations! You earned an award for the best skater in the world!". Well, he would only think about how is he going to manage to still go skating in the day of the award ceremony.

    My feelings for physics, for understanding and predicting nature, for staring at a white piece of paper challenging me to solve "the" problem, are some how like skating on one foot is for this guy. Some people just can't understand, I really do not care about any kind of achievement, my reaction for awards is like this: Oh.. that is good I suppose.. but when I can get back to the problem I was thinking of?
    I just do it because I enjoy doing it, I suppose it feels like skating on one foot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2014 #2


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    I know what you mean. I somehow have the same feeling. I just can't think about my life without physics. I get up every morning thinking about what physics should I do today. Although recently I feel a little burnt out and bored and have problem finding something but I like it.
    But the point is, life has many different aspects and loving physics has many different degrees. People you talked about may love physics too but just not that much that makes them forget everything else
  4. Aug 22, 2014 #3
    Everyday I wake up, I just think about diseases and their cures, and how to perform surgical operations. Oh no I can't resist, I am getting real excited when typing this down too. :biggrin: :surprised
  5. Aug 22, 2014 #4
    It's good that people enjoy physics but don't forget there's sports, chemistry, biology, literature, music, socialising, art, games, TV, wine tasting, fish breeding, cooking, just sitting back and relaxing. The list goes on and on. It's easy to get the impression that some people would find it beneficial to widen their interests.
  6. Aug 22, 2014 #5
    I doubt that achieving these things is their final motivation. Many men want to get high grades because that will get them a well paid job & recognition from their peers. A well paid job & recognition will make them attractive to women, and allow them them to start a family and buy a nice house to. That is, they are after "the good life". What's wrong with wanting "the good life"?

    It seems like you think your motivation is somehow purer because you do physics from intrinsic motivation, because you simply like doing physics. But I don't see that - you may enjoy designing weapons for a malign regime 'cause the physics is interesting, but that doesn't look so pure.

    Notice Shyan's post, what if she is permanently bored with physics? What if that happens to you? It does happen! Having a back up extrinsic motivation ("want a well paid job!") might be useful in case you get into that state.

    Medicol is obviously just in it for the money. But some doctors do actually wake up raring to get to the operating table! Maybe he will one day. That would be a nice surprise! Loadsa money and (eventually) liking the job.

    I liked that skating story, but skating doesn't pay well. Get a well paid job then you can retire early and skate all you want.
  7. Aug 22, 2014 #6

    I'm sorry mal4mac but I'm afraid that you misunderstood what I was talking about. There is nothing wrong with their motivation, I just got a disgusting feeling when I noticed it, and made me think of my own situation, and posted it here to see if my view was shared among others.
    If anything, my motivation is less purer, I feel somehow addicted to think all the time, just to have another taste of that kick of pleasure that arises when you think.
    Luckily, this "need for the kick" made me earn a good amount of money with some investments during my early 20s, so I am not at all worried about getting a well-paid job, if I am short of money sometime in the future, I just hope I have enough to "skate on one foot" one more day!
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