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How are you all so smart?

  1. Oct 20, 2011 #1
    I am pretty new to these forums, and although I enjoy physics, I have only 1 year or experience with it in high school (although I will have two more before I graduate).
    You people leave me speechless though. Maybe it is just because a lot of GR or quantum stuff is hard to understand without proper background, but nonetheless.. you people all sound like PhD's from Harvard.

    I guess the real question is, how long did you study physics before you could really understand most of what is in these forums.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2011 #2


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    We breastfed Physics! :biggrin:

    Now, the the real REAL question is, what's your favorite fish?
  4. Oct 20, 2011 #3


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    I think you're confusing knowledge with intelligence. I'm not saying folks here are not smart, I'm saying that most of us are a LOT older than you and have had time to use whatever brainpower we have to learn stuff. You'll get there. Don't be intimidated.

    (P.S. hint --- pick a small fish :smile:)
  5. Oct 20, 2011 #4


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    Like phinds said, many of us are older with a couple of decades or more of professional experience with about another decade or so of university experience. Many here are scientists (mathematicians, physicists, etc), engineers or technologists, as well as business folks, as well as students in high school and university. There is an amazing spectrum of scientific and technical experience here, as well as being geographically (internationally) broad.

    Stick around, read as much as possible, and ask challenging questions.
  6. Oct 20, 2011 #5
    61 years and counting.
  7. Oct 20, 2011 #6


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    I'll tell you when I'm able to. :biggrin:

    On a more serious note, I would say a vast majority of what is posted on this forum is understandable with just a year or 2 of real study. Most people outside of the field have effectively 0 knowledge of physics, so it's extremely easy to find things going over your head. I'm sure I'd be dumbfounded if a music major 1 year into his studies started talking to me about music theory simply because I have almost no understanding of it myself.
  8. Oct 20, 2011 #7


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    IMO You don't notice the "how long" aspect of it all if you really enjoy learning w/e it is you want to whether its QFT, GR etc. at least until pengy comes around and ruins the fun. Oh the horror. But yeah its all gradual and I don't think you can ever understand 100% everything here; there is too much to learn =D.
  9. Oct 20, 2011 #8
    It's not even just that we're smart, most of us are world-class athletes as well. Around 60% are models.
  10. Oct 20, 2011 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    Over the years, as I study and teach more and more physics, I feel stupider and stupider, because I learn about the existence of more and more topics that I don't know anything about, and realize that I'll never have time to learn even a small fraction of them.
  11. Oct 20, 2011 #10
    I'm not smart, I just like math :biggrin:

    Seriously, it's pretty easy to become good at something if you enjoy it that much.
  12. Oct 20, 2011 #11


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    60% of us make models, not are models.
  13. Oct 20, 2011 #12
    Couldn't have said it better myself. People always get good at the things they like doing. Unfortunately my uncle really likes being lazy.
  14. Oct 20, 2011 #13


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    You have to realize how "answering questions" on this forum actually works. If somebody reads 100 threads, doesn't understand anything about 80 of them, doesn't post anything to another 15 because there are already some good answers there, and posts to the remaining 5, what YOU see is somebody who posted 5 answers that "look like they came from a Harvard Ph.D". You just see the tip of the iceberg, not the sea of ignorance that it's floating in!
  15. Oct 20, 2011 #14


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    HEY ... don't knock lazy. It's one of my best things.:smile:
  16. Oct 20, 2011 #15


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    And isn't it wonderful ... we'll never get bored !
  17. Oct 20, 2011 #16


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    Aw come on here ... you're giving away our secrets.:smile:
  18. Oct 20, 2011 #17
    Oh wow, I thought it was only me who didn't understand 95% of what is posted here.
  19. Oct 20, 2011 #18


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    first year students always ask me this question, normally I just point out the things they can do better than I do and say we are all good at something :)
  20. Oct 21, 2011 #19


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    That applies only to regular posts; we don't understand 99.93% of what the penguin comes up with.
  21. Oct 21, 2011 #20


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    I usually just point out that what I'm good at, I've been LEARNING for about 8 years now.
    Physics is quite repetitive when you're learning it (in a GOOD way), it really helps strengthen the basics.
    In physics 2 you study basic EM waves.
    In DiffEq+PDE you study the solutions to the wave equation.
    In optics you study light waves.
    Then you study sound waves in acoustics.
    You take a solid state course, where you learn about phonon vibrations in a lattice(waves).
    Then you do Mechanics and learn about SH oscillators (waves of a box on a spring).
    Then you take ElectroMagnetism and study more EM waves.
    Then you finally get to Quantum Mechanics and study particle waves.
    Luckily in Thermo+Stat Mech you don't study any waves really.... but its thermo and stat mech...
    Then you get to graduate school and take a Jackson EM course, and learn about much much harder waves, same in grad QM, same in Quantum Field Theory.
    And so on and so forth...

    Now, of course in some of these courses wave mechanics only plays a small portion, but EVERY YEAR you use the stuff you learned prior only with an increase in difficulty, and a change in application. While that might almost sound boring, it almost forces you to master the mathematics from the ground up to a very technical level.

    Its never a new course where the math is new, the topic is new, and you're completely lost. Everything builds on what you learn previously, and constantly adds new tools and techniques to your repertoire.
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