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Fed up!

  1. Jul 28, 2008 #1
    I would like to know if you've had similar feelings and what you did in the following case:

    Lately i've become really fed up with physics -- it's summer and term dosen't start until september, so i thought i'd get through a couple of textbooks and really reinforce and catch up on what i've missed so far.

    But! - I decided to work through example questions and find when a problem is difficult (either because it's not clear or because it's inherently difficult (to me)) I'm becoming increasingly worked up and then losing the focus that would be necessary to really think it through properly.

    The questions are quite challenging too but I'm completely unwilling to move on to something else and perhaps give the question i'm stuck on another shot another time.

    This is really a last ditch attempt (i've wasted the first 2 (out of 4) years of my undergraduate degree really) to work myself up to the standard I ought to be at where I to do a PhD and it be worthwhile (not to get to the PhD level just now, but to be a "good 2nd year undergraduate").

    Am i putting too much pressure on myself? I think, for example, that I ought really work my way through the whole of Boas in the next 6 weeks (doing say 20 questions per chapter) since while in the past 2 years a good deal of the stuff has been skimmed over, some is forgotten and some is (still) new. Then, however, if i spend a day covering chapters 1 and 2 and go and forget something like the integral test for convergence or the Jacobian determinant (or i suppose fail to be able to use them) then I feel i must obviously have failed to really engross myself in my work and never actually learned anything.

    Am I then getting bogged down in details? If i manage a good 80% of the questions i attempt without having to resort to physicsforums or get help then should i be content with that and perhaps those other 20% expect to be able to do as i progress in physics?

    And it just seems there's SO MUCH to learn! Kibble, Marion, Goldstein and Landau all treat Lagrangian mechanics differently and in some cases you find you're learning something quite different or additional.

    Where to go? How to go about things?

    If you got to here then thanks for reading this and i'd appreciate any comments you leave.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2008 #2
    I think you should chill out a bit, if you're getting 80% correct in landaus books I think it will suffice for a phd. :)
  4. Jul 29, 2008 #3


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    Wow. I'm constantly surprised at the number of people who study over the summer. I remember having intentions to do this, but in all honesty, I don't think I ever really cracked a book open until September (except, for the summer I spent on a research assistantship).

    It's great that you're tackling these problems at this level, but don't put too much pressure on yourself to remember everything after a single pass. You're learning and all things will come with practice.

    You can't expect to dance like a pro just after you've seen the steps to the foxtrot. Why should physics be any different?
  5. Jul 29, 2008 #4
    I'm not really tackling Landau in any great detail, just used the early part of Mechanics to look into lagrangian mechanics.
    Kibble's 'Classical Mechanics' poses some tough questions (especially the starred ones) and that's where i might get through 80% of them reasonably well, but then waste lots of time on the other 20%.

    I'm looking to get through a decent bit of work this summer since, as i said, i'm certainly not up to speed since my past 2 years have gone wasted (never went lectures, effectively just learned physics at the time of exams) and I just need to cement those things we've already covered (hence the mathematics and classical mechanics focus).

    You do make a good point though Choppy. I'm undoubtedly prone to thinking i've got nowhere. Just need to plod along.

    As far as "those bast%@$ questions" are concerned, should i really just look to come back to them?
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