How do I regain my interest in Physics?

  • #1
NotACursedChild
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Summary:: Loved Physics... decided in 7th that I wanted to become a cosmologist ( still do )... 2 yrs back when 11th Grade started, grades dropped in fav subs ( Math & Phy )… felt like I was failing in them and grades dropped further... parents helped and was able to recover Maths to as good as before: Phy still is difficult... any ideas?

In 5th Grade, I was introduced to the George series by Lucy and Stephen Hawking. I loved the series, and by 7th Grade, I had decided that I wanted to be a cosmologist ( I still do ). I would search up the topics in the series... I tried to understand Quantum Mechanics in 7th Grade ( obviously I was not successful /-: XD ), and would spend hours trying to understand different concepts. Even if I got nothing ( which happened a lot back then ) I would still read. When 11th stared 2 years back, my grades dropped, but I was not able to bring them back up, and I started to feel like I was failing in subjects that used to be my favourites ( Math and Physics ), and I guess that was when I lost interest...
My super supportive parents helped and I was able to recover Math and I still love it, but I am not being able to recover my lost interest in Physics...
How do I get out of this?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Why not take this time to explore other interests and then decide? People’s interests can and do change.

If you find that you do have other interests besides cosmology then I would encourage you to pursue those over cosmology. Cosmology is so small and competitive that it should be a last choice.
 
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  • #3
NotACursedChild
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Why not take this time to explore other interests and then decide? People’s interests can and do change.

If you find that you do have other interests besides cosmology then I would encourage you to pursue those over cosmology. Cosmology is so small and competitive that it should be a last choice.




I know what I have learned till 10th before choosing my subjects in 11th is not really enough to determine what I want to do... especially as the content of the subjects suddenly changes in 11th... but while I did well in the other subjects I was never as interested in them as I was in Math and Phy...
Cosmology is what got me interested, but I am open to and have applied for engineering... and computer science as well...
My parents helped me understand the other fields as well, but only fields involving Math and Phy were what I felt like doing...
Basically anything involving these subjects is what I would like to do, even if I do not get to do Cosmology... but I find it hard to enjoy Phy now... most of it, if not all...
 
  • #4
ZapperZ
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There's a problem with your posts so far. In none of your writings have you ever indicated the REASON for this drop in interest.

It's like you're telling us that you stopped eating, and now you're getting weaker and weaker and don't feel like doing much because you're too weak to do anything... you told us everything about the symptoms, but not the CAUSE, i.e. why in the world did you stop eating in the first place?

Secondly, why is it so important that you have an interest in physics? I know you stated that you want to do cosmology (do you know what that actually is?), but what if you actually want to do cosmology or had an interest in physics due to superficial reasons? A lot of people have this "romantic" idea of these fields, until they finally got into it and see all the hard work and dirty work involved, and suddenly they realize that they didn't have a full picture of it in the first place. Maybe your interest and capability lie elsewhere.

Finally, life happens while you're making plans. A lot of people make these shinny, beautiful plans of going from Point A to Point B in life. But life often throws a curve at you, causing you to sometime make abrupt turns that you never anticipate. You may think you want to be a cosmologist, but life may have other intentions for you.

Zz.
 
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  • #5
NotACursedChild
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There's a problem with your posts so far. In none of your writings have you ever indicated the REASON for this drop in interest.

It's like you're telling us that you stopped eating, and now you're getting weaker and weaker and don't feel like doing much because you're too weak to do anything... you told us everything about the symptoms, but not the CAUSE, i.e. why in the world did you stop eating in the first place?

Secondly, why is it so important that you have an interest in physics? I know you stated that you want to do cosmology (do you know what that actually is?), but what if you actually want to do cosmology or had an interest in physics due to superficial reasons? A lot of people have this "romantic" idea of these fields, until they finally got into it and see all the hard work and dirty work involved, and suddenly they realize that they didn't have a full picture of it in the first place. Maybe your interest and capability lie elsewhere.

Finally, life happens while you're making plans. A lot of people make these shinny, beautiful plans of going from Point A to Point B in life. But life often throws a curve at you, causing you to sometime make abrupt turns that you never anticipate. You may think you want to be a cosmologist, but life may have other intentions for you.

Zz.


When my grades dropped, I was not able to bring them back up... and then I felt like I was failing in these subjects, subjects that I used to enjoy before, and that led to my confidence dropping, and then my interest...
I had never seen low grades before that, so I guess I did not know how to deal with it then and despite my parents never being upset about those low grades, I felt like I was not the same as before... I realized this later that me thinking in this way had led to low confidence in the subjects... I am back to scoring well in Math, but Phy still remains a problem...

Yes I would love to do Cosmology, but like I wrote above I do not mind doing anything else in this stream too...
I have received admission into computer science engineering for fall this year and I am really excited about it, but the excitement I feel for doing Math and Computers, I am not feeling it for Phy anymore...

It is not important for me to have an interest in Physics...
While one of my subjects is Chemistry, I do not see myself enjoying it as much as any of the others I mentioned above... yes I do not have enough experience or knowledge, but from what I have done in high school, this is what I can say
I just really want to be able to enjoy all of physics, and not just some parts of it...
 
  • #6
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I am open to and have applied for engineering... and computer science as well...
Excellent! I would also recommend keeping your mind open to chemistry and biology (and related engineering disciplines) as well. There are a lot of math intensive topics that are not so physics focused.
 
  • #7
NotACursedChild
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Excellent! I would also recommend keeping your mind open to chemistry and biology (and related engineering disciplines) as well. There are a lot of math intensive topics that are not so physics focused.

The only thing is I still have a few exams left and they involve physics, and I have physics even in college, so how do I get my interest back to score well? I am done with my final and it went well, but again that was because I had to, and not because I really enjoyed it as much...
 
  • #8
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The only thing is I still have a few exams left and they involve physics, and I have physics even in college, so how do I get my interest back to score well? I am done with my final and it went well, but again that was because I had to, and not because I really enjoyed it as much...
It is a little unrealistic to expect that you will enjoy exams or that you will prepare for exams because you have interest in doing so. I think that "because I had to" is probably the usual motivation anyone ever has for scoring well in an exam.
 
  • #9
NotACursedChild
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0
It is a little unrealistic to expect that you will enjoy exams or that you will prepare for exams because you have interest in doing so. I think that "because I had to" is probably the usual motivation anyone ever has for scoring well in an exam.


It is not just for the upcoming exams, but also for my future studies that involve physics...
How do I enjoy the whole of it again and not just a few parts?
 
  • #10
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It is not just for the upcoming exams, but also for my future studies that involve physics...
How do I enjoy the whole of it again and not just a few parts?
I wouldn't try to force the issue. Look for other interests. If you don't enjoy it any more then find what you do enjoy.
 
  • #11
mpresic3
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I am trying to put myself in your place before I answer. From your post, I gather that you have just completed your first year of college. I take it, and correct me if I am wrong, that you have had all of high school math, including college math i.e. calculus, maybe a little more. You have completed a year of college physics. Let me suppose you may have some electives or courses completed in allied departments that are required to satisfy academic distribution requirements. Let's get back to physics. My question is:

Are you currently learning mechanics in physics, with a little fluid mechanics and thermodynamics thrown in. This is the way it was when I took first year physics.

If you review Shankar's video on first year mechanics at yale on youtube, he states that the inclined plane has driven more students away from physics than anything else. There is a lot of truth to this

You mean to say that after reading what Hawking says about the extra dimensions and the universe, you don't find the acceleration of two blocks on an incline plane exciting. Or how about the tension in a two pulley system. I know I was overwhelmed when I found out a hollow cylinder fell down an incline faster than a solid sphere, or was it otherwise.

The point I am trying to make is not everything in physics is going to excite you no matter what your goals are.

That being said, my advice is forget what brought you into physics. If you are a freshman in college, you have about 4 years before becoming a graduate student. Perhaps, 1 or 2 years later, before you will be involved in meaningful research with a cosmologist (if ever). You might intern with one sooner, but it is unlikely the professor will put you on to something hot. (S)he will probably be giving you something to develop your talents. In any case, you have a lot of time.

The most important attitude is to work hard to learn all aspects of physics in your coursework. I can only say for my case, because I have not lived any other. Special Relativity brought me into physics when I was reading about it at age 12. Of course, I did not understand most of it. That is entirely irrelevant.

My freshman physics grade was B- in mechanics 1, and C in mechanics 2. Relatively poor grades. You can see this subject did not come natural to me. I studied mechanics over the summer. You see the poor grades actually inspired me. Rather than a lack of confidence, I took it the other way. It was a motivation to learn. Then, believe it or not a weird thing happened. As I learned more and got better and better at doing problems, I became MORE interested, not less interested. When I took higher level courses mechanics became the last of my problems.

I cannot say for sure this can happen to you. As the advertisement says your mileage can vary.

I also suggest not letting your confidence get too wrapped up in your grades. As I think you have guessed, it leads to a vicious cycle. Every time you successfully do a problem in physics or math, let that build your confidence.

One last experience I had, and this goes along with much of the advice on this forum. I went to college with a single-minded devotion to physics. After completing my master's degree, I examined the journal of navigation, guidance, and control. I read some of the articles. I said to myself, "Myself, I never knew they were interested in problems like that. I'm interested in that" I realized I could have branched to a different career and (possibly) been much happier. This happened later, in my 50's, I was reviewing a periodical on GNSS , and again said. I didn't know they were doing that. Now, I have a doctorate in physics but I work alongside aerospace engineers, and I love what I am doing. I never looked back that I am not doing elementary particle physics as I wanted to do when I was 18, or special relativity (actually GNSS uses general relativistic corrections) as when I was 12.

I agree with Dale and others. I think you should keep your options open. You will still need to do well for a few years in physics though.

I hope this helps, and is not too heavy on you. I hope you found humor in my characterization of freshman mechanics.
 
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  • #12
symbolipoint
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My super supportive parents helped and I was able to recover Math and I still love it, but I am not being able to recover my lost interest in Physics...
How do I get out of this?
You do not. Either you are still interested in Physics or you are not. If you are not now interested in Physics, then that IS how you are. Figure out what else you want to do with Mathematics.
 
  • #13
Ishika_96_sparkles
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It so happens that instead of just motivating the youngsters into physics, the popular science books and several documentaries on various channels with lots of graphical detail and background music, generate a fantasy world for impressionable minds.

For, example the exotic words like Black Holes, Wormholes, Time Travel, Quantum Entanglement, String Theory etc create some sort of unbaked magical world that is crushed when faced with real world drudgery of learning the tricks of the trade. The high school physics of planes and pulleys, of charges in electrostatics and rays in optics seem so mundane to the student that she thinks that these things are unnecessary hurdles in their way to the world of exciting physics that first motivated them to look here.

Cosmology, the field of describing the beginning, working and the large scale structure of the universe, is a subject that one get a chance to learn in gradate school. To be able to reach there one takes the first step in learning about forces, work-energy theorem, conservation of energy, of momentum conservation, collisions, vectors and many more things that are fundamental to understanding most of the high sounding stuff.

Your loss of motivation seems to be due to lack of stimulus that senior high school seems to provide or you own heightened expectations from the perceptions of what physics is all about.

The tiny shaky steps precede the walking and then the comes the ability to run.

However, one should give enough space for changes in interest as one learns new stuff. If computer science interests you, sure! In any case, some physicists argue that we could be living in a big simulation ...aka the universe.

So your cosmological search might take you to finding the <source code> of the creation. :cool:
 
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  • #14
If you find the Physics problems you get at school mundane, you might consider looking into some Olympiad competition questions (either from your country, or from somewhere like IPhO). There are lots of interesting and topical problems but they are designed such that they can be attacked with a (mostly) high-school level knowledge of Physics.

That might be a good compromise between wanting to dive in at the deep and, but at the same time needing to learn the tools of the trade :wink:. I know there are similar competitions for CompSci, Chemistry, Maths, etc. which you might also want to check out.
 
  • #15
Adesh
735
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Summary:: Loved Physics... decided in 7th that I wanted to become a cosmologist ( still do )... 2 yrs back when 11th Grade started, grades dropped in fav subs ( Math & Phy )… felt like I was failing in them and grades dropped further... parents helped and was able to recover Maths to as good as before: Phy still is difficult... any ideas?

In 5th Grade, I was introduced to the George series by Lucy and Stephen Hawking. I loved the series, and by 7th Grade, I had decided that I wanted to be a cosmologist ( I still do ). I would search up the topics in the series... I tried to understand Quantum Mechanics in 7th Grade ( obviously I was not successful /-: XD ), and would spend hours trying to understand different concepts. Even if I got nothing ( which happened a lot back then ) I would still read. When 11th stared 2 years back, my grades dropped, but I was not able to bring them back up, and I started to feel like I was failing in subjects that used to be my favourites ( Math and Physics ), and I guess that was when I lost interest...
My super supportive parents helped and I was able to recover Math and I still love it, but I am not being able to recover my lost interest in Physics...
How do I get out of this?
Are you in an Indian education system? Believe me my question is very relevant here, Indian system does have some problems and your post feels like something personal to me.
 
  • #16
dRic2
Gold Member
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I wandered in the realm of literature and philosophy for 3.5 years before gaining my interest in science back (and believe me I couldn't care less about physics). Various things happened and my interest started to return. What worked for me might not work for you, but my advice is to be curious and keep an open mind. Anyway, when my interest was growing back 2 things were crucial:
1) Have an enthusiast friend(s) or someone who you can talk to. Knowledge feels better when shared and if your interest begins to fade again, they might have something to keep it from dying. Enthusiasm is contagious. ;)
2)
 

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