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How can I study two different sciences?

  1. Oct 21, 2013 #1
    Hi folks I have a question on my mind lately. I'm currently finishing my biochemistry major and plan to pursue graduate school in plant biology. I really like plants and biology and biochemistry and stuff. The problem is I also really like physics. I feel like it balances my mind. Biology is more of a softer human science and then I like to switch to physics where there is more exactness, abstraction, explanatory power.

    From time to time I find myself checking out physics books in my library and trying to read them, just so I can catch up on the subject. But I'm wondering how realistically I can keep up with these two different sciences. I know it's important to keep my focus specific but I feel like I'd like to balance my mind with these two sciences. How can I do that please? thanks for any suggestions or answer
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  3. Oct 21, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Depends on how good you want to be in both - but the short answer is "hard work".
    You could consider a crossover field like bio-physics or any sub-field of either which uses a lot of the other.
  4. Oct 21, 2013 #3
    I've considered cross over fields but I feel that I am most interested in both fields separately. Like I said it's to balance my mind. I suppose I did side over to biology as evidenced by my major and choice of graduate school.

    But I didn't want to lose touch with physics completely. For right now the best I can do is read books on the subject. I'm squeezing in some classes on the side. Hopefully in grad school I can still take classes in physics. I'll just have to feel it out and see if maybe one day I'd rather switch to physics. Maybe I should switch over to physics... this is hard... hmmm...I'll stick with reading books and taking classes for now. I shouldn't completely drop what I've worked five years on anyway...
  5. Oct 21, 2013 #4
    I guess I could focus in on specific parts of each science. For example in biology I'm only going to focus in on plant biology and plant biochemistry to be specific.

    meanwhile in physics I could just focus in on learning one part of physics that interests me like gravity or quantum. As long as I keep things specific it might be more doable. taking classes in every aspect of physics might be unrealistic at this point.
  6. Oct 21, 2013 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    Sounds like you are a biologist who does physics as a hobby.
    That's doable.

    One way to stay sharp in physics is to help people out with their problems on PF ;)
  7. Oct 21, 2013 #6
    thanks for your advice and quick response.
  8. Oct 21, 2013 #7


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    There are certain aspects here that have been missed or neglected. First of all, you never did say where in the world you are or where you intend to go to graduate school Presuming that this is in the US, then there's a couple of problems that have been overlooked:

    1. If you are going to attend graduate school and expect to receive any form of assistanship, then someone/some agency will be paying for your education. If that is the case, then you do not have the freedom to take whatever classes that you fancy. The classes that you take have to be approved by your advisor. And considering that you have a limited workload that you can take AND still do your research, where do you think you will find the time and the effort to enroll in extra-curricular classes not within your major?

    2. In most graduate school, you cannot get a grade lower than a B. Anything lower is considered as a failure. And the thing is, even your non-major classes will count! So not only will the grades that you get in your physics classes will count towards your degree, you will have to compete with all these physics majors and have to get a grade of a B or better!

    If you are adamant in not doing a field such as Bio-Physics (which is a perfectly good and WIDE subject area), then go ahead and major in Biology but do physics as a hobby. If you want to take a class, go to another school, a community college if you have to, and do it in your spare time (if you have any left).

  9. Oct 21, 2013 #8
    Ever consider paleontology? This field contains evolutionary biology, geology, chemistry and a little bit of physics as well.
  10. Oct 21, 2013 #9
    You're right I need to think along those lines. Taking extra classes has gotten me in a mess before. It seems that I can only do physics as a hobby then if I plan to do biology grad school
  11. Oct 21, 2013 #10
    I haven't thought of paleontology probably because I don't want to work that much in evolution. A little is ok but I'm more focused on other aspects of bio
  12. Oct 24, 2013 #11
    Can you study physics and biochem simultaneously solely at your discretion? or will the college only let you do it if you have insanely good marks?
  13. Oct 24, 2013 #12

    Simon Bridge

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    It will depend on the college. I imagine you could find one which will advise strongly against it but accept your tuition money if you absolutely insist. The trick would be finding papers that did not clash.

    Insanely good marks and a head-start before enrollment would help a lot. So would an endorsement from an acknowledged authority in the field and, of course, a hefty endowment.

    There's ways around everything.

    But if you are asking Delong.........?
  14. Oct 25, 2013 #13
    I have a lot of time this last year in college so I'm going to take some physics classes anyway. But in grad school I think it's a good idea if I just devote my attention to one thing only.
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