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Ever been in a situation

  1. Sep 11, 2008 #1
    ... where you are working on some physics problems and you spend hours and hours trying to find a solution to that particular problem you are working on, and you come up with all these strategies that lead you away from the solution. Finally, you give up, and asked for help or maybe look at the solution of the problem online, and the correct solution is totally unrelated to the unrelated solutions you came up with in attempting to find the correct solution to the correct problem. Do you ever feel like a total idiot when you are unable to solved a problem or when you try to solved the problems your solutions absolutely have nothing to do with the actual solution.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2008 #2
    I would only feel like an idiot if I was supposed to know the material and still couldn't understand the given solution. If I see the solution and go "Oh, duh!" it just means I need more coffee.
  4. Sep 11, 2008 #3
    Many, many times.

    One semester I took an elective Intro to Theoretical Physics class which was very math intensive. I spent hours looking at very difficult problems, sometimes I could have those "aha!" moments on my own, other times I had to go to my professor's office hours. That was the only class that I ever went to the office hours for. My professor was very helpful and could see what I was overlooking. He would suggest something that would get me on the right track.

    Even now, I can spend a lot of time on something while overlooking what a genius might say is obvious until finally taking a break, coming back, and finding clarity.
  5. Sep 12, 2008 #4
    I've done that, and I've had cases where I ended up with a solution I felt was more elegant. Learning how to approach problems is really more important than being able to solve any single problem...which will inevitably involve quite a bit of what you describe.
  6. Sep 12, 2008 #5
    It happens to me all the time except for me I tend to throw my book and work on the floor and turn the TV on and watch some NCAA Football or anything that'll give me a mental breather. After an hour or two passes by, finally the understanding of the problems gets through my head and I'll continue onto the next problem.
  7. Sep 12, 2008 #6
    Sometimes I even find myself spending more time reading the lecture notes and the textbook than working on the problem, since I cannot initially start the problem without a full and thoroughh understanding of the underlying physics concepts behind the problem .
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
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