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How to be a physicist with my credentials.?

  1. Dec 28, 2011 #1
    Okay, im a 17 year old African American Male, i have had many changes in what i want to major in when i get to college, First i started with being a scientist, then a chemist but then i actually took the class chemistry (Regents Course) and it blew my mind and frankly i hated it. Then i realized i really enjoy history, so i thought of being a historian. Then when i reached 11th grade i took Physics for the first time, and my eyes were open to a new world, i fell in-love with it immediately..but right now my grades are really messed up. i Probably have less than a 2.0 GPA, its not that i cant do the work...i just dont its shameful honestly, but can you guys tell me what you think about this? Can things turn around for me to actually bring my dream to fruition?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Then you can't be a physicist. Simple as that. Being a physicist takes work - a lot of it.

    Nope. You can wait forever for things to turn around by themselves. You can turn them around, though.
  4. Dec 28, 2011 #3
    When i say can things turn thats what i mean, if i work at it...and with me not doing the work, im starting to realize that's pretty childish and im starting to do my work and things
  5. Dec 28, 2011 #4
    Thank you for the honesty
  6. Dec 28, 2011 #5
    So you don't want to put in any work. Fine. What do you think you'll ever going to accomplish in this life?? EVERYTHING takes work, not only being a physicist.
    If you think your own future is not important enough to put in any work, then by all means, keep doing what you are doing.
  7. Dec 28, 2011 #6
    To counter some of the ''tough love'' responses here, if you want to ''reinvent'' yourself in a way, you need to go to community college, it is your second chance to be able to go to a university. All you need to go to community college is have a GED or High school diploma. You can take all your lower division courses at a community college before transferring, but this time you will have to work hard and earn good grades, so you aren't doomed quite yet.
  8. Dec 28, 2011 #7
    Quite true. It's never too late. But don't start in a community college unless you're prepared to work hard and give yourself 100%.
  9. Dec 28, 2011 #8
    the "tough love" is what i need to be honest, but i AM starting to change, ive probably been Googles #1 fan for the past couple of weeks, im just looking for different feedback from people who like physics too
  10. Dec 28, 2011 #9
    I know the road ahead is going to be difficult, but i enjoy physics so i dont mind the hard work
  11. Dec 28, 2011 #10
    Then stop googling and wasting time on the internet. Start working and studying.
  12. Dec 28, 2011 #11
  13. Dec 28, 2011 #12
    Yes, khan academy is very good. You should keep using that!!

    But only watching videos is not enough. You need to make A LOT of exercises if you really want to grasp the material. So get yourself a decent textbook and start working exercises. If you combine khan academy and a regular textbook, then you can get very far.
  14. Dec 28, 2011 #13
    Do you have any textbooks in mind?
  15. Dec 28, 2011 #14
    For which subject specifically?
  16. Dec 28, 2011 #15
    Physics, a text book that can cover basic things (so i can brush up) and more advanced things
  17. Dec 28, 2011 #16
    Before you start physics, I suggest you work on your math first. If you don't know math extremely well, then you shouldn't even think about starting in physics.

    A book I always tend to recommend (because it is just THAT good) is "basic mathematics" by Serge Lang. It covers about everything you need to know about high school mathematics. Work that book until you understand everything and until you can work every exercise. Lang's book is not easy however, so you might want to complement it with other sources such as Khan academy.

    After that, you can start with studying calculus. I like the book "practical analysis in one variable" by Estep. It contains a lot of information on calculus and it is suitable for a high-schooler. You might want to learn from a more rigorous book later (such as Spivak or Apostol), but they might be overkill for now.

    After that, you're ready to start physics. The book by Halliday and Resnick is a good place to start (but only if you know calculus). You don't need to know calculus to start physics, you can also work with an algebra-based physics book, but I don't recommend this.

    The books I recommend are books you should really WORK through. Just reading them and skimming theml a bit is not sufficient. You need to understand every sentence and every word, you need to work the exercises and you need to ask a lot of questions. You should aim for a COMPLETE understanding, not a superficial one.
  18. Dec 28, 2011 #17
    I know you need to be good at Math, im good from Algebra-Trigonometry...Trig. i could use more brushing up but thank you for all your help, ill be sure to look into those books
  19. Dec 28, 2011 #18
    You should be able to solve these questions very fast:

    1) Factor [itex]x^3-x^2+2x-2[/itex].

    2) Solve

    [tex]\left\{\begin{array}{c} 2x+y=4\\ 6x-2y=3\end{array}\right.[/tex]

    3) Prove


    4) I'm looking at a tree from a distance. The visual angle between the bottom of the tree and the top of the tree is 10°. I step 2m forwards. The visual angle has now increased until 15°. How high is the tree?

    Unless you can solve all these fairly fast, you need more practice.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  20. Dec 28, 2011 #19
    OhKay let me rephrase, i need ALOT of brushing up
  21. Dec 28, 2011 #20
    you're on winter break right? perfect time to study :)
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