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How Do You Deal With Unsolvable Problems?

  1. Sep 27, 2009 #1
    Well after the first initial panic at the start of the semester I've calmed down and settled into a pile of what I think so far is fail.

    Take this last weekend for instance. I spent the whole weekend trying to solve TWO problems from a chemistry assignment. Unfortunately nobody on the forums go to it, but that's not the issue. How do you guys deal with things you have no clue how to solve, and can't get any help on?

    Said assignment is due first thing in the morning for marks. I probably won't be able to get help from my prof to get them solved, and there's just a feeling of failure over these. I should be able to do them using what I know, but I can't.
     
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  3. Sep 27, 2009 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Let it go. Plus you probably want to start doing homework earlier then the weekend its due haha.
     
  4. Sep 27, 2009 #3

    symbolipoint

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    Lancelot59 wrote:
    Which one? The Beer's Law problem or the combustion problem? There are already 12 postings on the Beer's Law one.
     
  5. Sep 27, 2009 #4

    symbolipoint

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    Lancelot59, I just read your combustion analysis gas problem and gave a comment there. Although I am no longer skillful with gas problem exercises, the problem description is missing too much information. Based on this, you apparantly correctly called it an unsolvable problem. The description needs enough information to determine initial conditions and final conditions.
     
  6. Sep 27, 2009 #5
    Oh, the beers law one I managed to solve with Borek bouncing things at me till the light went on.

    @Pengwuino: I always try to start on stuff as soon as I can. This week however was a bit packed. I had actually started on it, but I hadn't reached those questions before the weekend.

    The thing that really gets me down is that I'll be losing marks for these two problems.
     
  7. Sep 27, 2009 #6

    Pengwuino

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    Yah you should just let it go until you can get help from a professor, even if you lose points. It happens, no one's perfect. One tip I would say is to look over every problem you get as soon as you get it so you can ask professors for some insight (after doing a little work on any problems that look hard) into the problems before they are unaccessable.
     
  8. Sep 28, 2009 #7

    Maroc

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    Trust me i had the same problem. What i do know is always ask the teacher for help and always do my homework cause math, phyiscs and chem are all subjects were you need to know the previous work to continue.

    Good Luck.
     
  9. Sep 28, 2009 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    Sounds like the real-world. Unsolved problems are the only ones someone will pay you to work on. Notice I said "work on", not solve.

    Personally, I do as much background research as possible (previous attempts to solve the problem) and then start talking to people who know more than I. That helps weed out the obvious dead-ends, and highlight a couple promising approaches. Then I just jump in. Hopefully, I can make some progress (or figure out how to make some progress). But it's also good to know when to quit and move on to something else.
     
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