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How do you theoretical physicists stay motivated?

  1. Aug 19, 2010 #1
    Many of the most fundamental physics problems that theoretical physicists work with are really cool, but they are so abstract that sometimes it just feels that you are sitting with huge tomes/books and looking at details.

    How do you stay motivated? How do you bring back the taste for maths and physics?

    I try listening to mysterious music such as Shpongle, or playing sci-fi oriented computer games :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2010 #2
    I usually don't have to get motivated to work on the physics research (calculations, research code development, modeling) but the other parts of my job (writing papers, reports, administrative stuff) can really drag me down.

    I have two coping mechanisms:
    1. Sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee. This lets me relax and just think for a bit and helps to get me through the late afternoon quiet that creeps around here which makes me want to sleep.
    2. Remember the big picture. I get to work on some really cool projects and they can have profound implications on major space missions. The coolness factor definitely gets lost in the day-to-day grind that can be my job. When I sit back and look at what I get to work on, all interesting results, the implications, the extremely talented people I get to work with- I remember how I fit into the big picture and I can't help but think of how lucky I am. This makes doing the things I like least about my job seem very much worth it.

    In the end, it is all about taking a breath and being able to adjust my perspective.
  4. Aug 19, 2010 #3
    Imagine being out of work?
  5. Aug 20, 2010 #4
    This used to work for me. Nowadays it simply doesn't do the trick. :(
  6. Aug 21, 2010 #5
    I sometimes find that the most "boring" parts of my job are the ones that are most relaxing. I'm trying to figure how this #$@$@# paper derived this @#$@#$ formula, and so I work through everything step by step. I get the wrong answer. I do it again. Get the wrong answer. Repeat for a few hours or days, and then I get somewhere. This sort of thing is quite relaxing because it often turns out that there is total chaos around me, and by staring at the problem, I can blot out the chaos.
  7. Aug 22, 2010 #6
    I am used to the same coping mechanisms of Norman.

  8. Sep 2, 2010 #7
    Play games like Halo and remember that physicists probably discovered the slip-space jump and effective materials to build those huge mile-long magnetic accelerator cannons and those gigantor ships. Also the armored body-suit of the Spartans is pretty awesome (they can jump 10 feet and run 55 mph!).

    I mean come on. Physics is the foundation that all of engineering and technology develops. Isn't that awesome enough?
  9. Sep 2, 2010 #8
    I'm still just a student but I get the same way studying, sometimes I just wonder why I am doing this. Kind of like camel jockey, I love listening to weird or intense music. Metal or psy-trance is good. I do some of my best math when I have Infected Mushroom blasting. It just keeps me awake and driven.

    Other than that I go for a lot of walks and talks. I guess I am what they call "kinetic thinkers". Every 10 or 15 minutes I need to get up and jump around, pace in circles, mumble to myself. Sometimes it even gets to the point where I am running back and forth across the room.

    Other times I go for a long walk and discuss with a friend either what I am working on, or something completely different. I find thinking about completely different things gives me a fresh perspective and I see the world as new and fascinating again.
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