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Doubting majoring in physics

  1. Nov 14, 2007 #1
    I'm currently a physics major and this quarter I'm taking 2 physics classes, Math methods for physicists and Modern physics. I'm not really enjoying either class.
    What I dislike about Math methods is that its been all a review of lower-div math, and the only new stuff I'm learning focuses too much on boring vector identities and special matrices (hermitian, unitary, orthogonal). Theres no interesting concepts to learn like in lower-div multivariable calc and linear algebra

    My modern physics class isnt the usual modern physics class covered in other universities, since ours is designed for physics majors only, so its more mathematically rigorous and focuses only on quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics. The quantum part was ok, even though the class didnt go over quantum in too much detail, just like other modern physics classes. But the stat mech part, its been really lame. Its been mostly about tons of algebra manipulations and approximations with integrals. The physics involved is fairly abstract. This class is supposed to be preparation for upper-div physics. Is upperdiv physics similar to this?

    I'm considering changing majors to math or engineering if it stays like this
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2007 #2
    What part of physics do you like then?

    If you go math your going to go way abstract math in upper level (which it sounds like you don't like).

    It sounds like you might enjoy Mechanical Engineering
  4. Nov 14, 2007 #3
    I liked lower div mechanics and E&M. Astrophysics looks interesting too, but I havent taken a class for it yet. I'm currently taking complex variables and upper-div linear algebra, and those seem pretty interesting, certainly more so than the physics classes I'm taking now
  5. Nov 15, 2007 #4
    You may be one of the first people I've met who describe Upper-Div Linear Algebra as interesting. I'f you like that, you may like quantum mechanics even though you didn't like your Modern Physics class, you may want to give it more a shot. Physics is a broad subject, I wouldn't give up just because of one boring class. Maybe you will like Particle Physics, Optics, or higher level Mechanics. You said you liked your lower div mechanics, have you taken Classical Mechanics (as in Hamiltonian and Lagrangian), perhaps you will enjoy that.
    If you don't like how the physics seems too abstract in your Modern Physics Class, how then would you rather be a math major and take pure maths? Surely any physics would seem abstract from your Advanced Abstract Algebra course or Real Analysis course.
    I would recommend you continue with physics a bit longer and sample some classes beyond Modern Physics. Try Optics, Electronics, Classical Mechanics, Advanced EM, or Astro Physics classes as well
  6. Nov 16, 2007 #5
    maybe my modern physics class isnt so abstract as it is boring. The HW my prof assigns are often poorly worded and the problems were much more difficult than the midterm questions. (most other students in the class agree with me on this). The textbook is far more advanced than what the prof lectures. But the class is more advanced than lower-div modern physics, so I can't learn from any textbooks. I do most of my learning from reading my textbooks than from professors lectures. I guess I'll see how I like upper-div mechanics before I decide to stay with physics major or not
  7. Nov 16, 2007 #6
    A bad professor is not a good reason to change majors. It sounds like your work has not been very conceptual this semester, and that has got you down. But you are ready to take a year long QM course so don't give up now, since QM might revitalize your interest. I think anyone who likes E&M can find a place for themselves in physics.
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