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How to know you're a physicist

  1. Jan 18, 2007 #1
    There are many clues you have to which career path you want to go on. Engineers they say like to take things apart. What do Physicists do? WHat are they like? How are they in their social lives? WHat likenesses do they have? WHat odd things or habits do they like to repeat?

    Besides saying physicists are more od,crazy,wild thinkers than smart tell me more details about them. SOmething more in depth. DO we even know about them? Only ones we've really known of is MIchi Kaku, ALbert EInstein, Steven Hawking, and even Dr.Paul Chiu.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2007 #2
    Well, i'm not a physicist, but whenever I ask people who are why they are physicist, I tend to get one general reply. They seem to have a certain need/desire to understand how the world works. As to habits they have and quarks, I think you may have some weird fantasy in your head.
  4. Jan 18, 2007 #3
    Check out Clifford Johnsons's blog

    This is one example out of many which proves that not all physicists are nerds wearing lab coats.
  5. Jan 18, 2007 #4
    My descision to study and become a physcisist was made when I was 10 years old and got a astronomy book as christmas gift. The more I know about how the world works the more fascinating it gets.
  6. Jan 18, 2007 #5


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    You know you're a physicist when you write entire books on a single mathematical formula :)

    But seriously man, you act like physicist are alien to the rest of us. They are all regular human beings.
  7. Jan 18, 2007 #6
    How to know you're a physicist?

    You design your first atomic bomb before finishing school.
  8. Jan 18, 2007 #7
    Physicist’s have an innate curiosity about the world around them and a passion to explore, discover and understand the architecture and mechanisms, that engineer the physical, tangible reality, that we experience phenomenally. We want to describe how the universe operates with precise, deterministic laws using the visual language of mathematics.

    I personally, decided that I would not be happy doing anything other than theoretical physics and mathematics, about a year and a half ago while I was dissociated and trapped in an intense k-hole. Ever since then, I have devoted all of my time to studying and practicing my maths and phyiscs, so that I can hopefully do theoretical physics. I did not do any math in highschool, other than Algebra and nearly failed high school. It was about a year after high school, that I made the choice to go to college and do nothing but physics and math (although, I live with my gf so she sort of gets more attention than the my work, but very soon she is going to have to accept that studying will require more time than now). I had to relearn algebra up through calculus II on my own because I was very far behind. If you want to do phyiscs, all it takes is motivation.

    Anyways man, I don't think there is anything specific -- I had no idea I was doing physics until I was 19. I had always been interested in physics as a young kid (6-13) until I started doing math. Since I never grasped how well our projections of geometry and mathematics, describes reality -- I absolutely despised math. After constructing a model in my head, connecting all the aspects of physics, mathematics and geometry, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. All it takes is one experience to completely transform your perception of the universe.

    Also, we know a lot of information, about a lot of physicists, especially if you follow their work at all. I actually know less about the guys you mentioned, than some of the other theorists working on modern problems that I follow.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2007
  9. Jan 18, 2007 #8
    "What do physicists do?"

    Physicists do physics.
  10. Jan 18, 2007 #9


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    You know you're a physicist when someone offers you a job doing physics.

    - Warren
  11. Jan 18, 2007 #10

    I've heard this but do physicists hate Math?
  12. Jan 18, 2007 #11
    I knew I was a physicist after I was trying to solve a problem w/ the physics professor I work for. We were working through something on the board when we needed to know the approximate value of a term. He says "Lets just do a quick approximation, we are physicists, we can do that."

    I was thinking "Wow, he didn't say 'I am a physicist', he said 'we are physicists', so I guess I can call myself a physicist!" It really made my day (yeah I am hardcore nerd).

    Now when someone asks me what I do, I don't say "physics student" or "physics major." I say (w/ great pride) "I am a physicist."
  13. Jan 18, 2007 #12


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    Mathematics is the language of physics. They go hand in had with each other. Physics without math is like bread without peanut butter and jelly. So if you're gonna get into physics, then you should develop a liking for the math.
  14. Jan 18, 2007 #13
    Since a physicist uses math very very extensively, if you hate math, you would hate being a physicist, wouldn't you?
  15. Jan 18, 2007 #14
    I must say, that I completely agree with that.

    I find many of the physics books so wordy and obscure. For me it is paradoxically much easier to read a math book than a physics book, because in the latter I am sometimes totaly lost in what is an assumption, approximation, experimental fact or a theorem resulting from the preceeding.

    Math is maybe in the beginning a bit hard to read, but once you learn the language (with all the [tex]\epsilon[/tex] and [tex]\delta[/tex] stuff) you see how many advantages it has - it is clear, brief and very powerful in describing various phenomena.

    I like books like Goldstein, which involve enough math, and you can also get the physical feeling from it.

    Anyway, do you think, that this more mathematical approach is helpful in (theoretical) physics or is it not very welcomed?
  16. Jan 18, 2007 #15
    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    You're a physicist when you have an urge to explore the world, not as we see it, but as all of its true inner workings
  17. Jan 19, 2007 #16
    I can imagine eating bread without peanut butter or jelly, but I can't imagine doing physics without maths.
  18. Jan 19, 2007 #17
    what?? I eat bread without anything all the time... In fact, I don't even think I have a jar of jelly or peanut butter at my house....
  19. Jan 19, 2007 #18


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    OK, Ok. I get the point, its a weak analogy :) I thought everyone was like me when it comes to PP&J, but I see you people arent normal :tongue2:
  20. Jan 19, 2007 #19
    Spot on. Even if one can debate the entire 'curiosity for understanding the Universe' area, one needs some perspective on reality. Compare with other professions: is a person a lawyer if he never have had a job as one even if one have a dream and an urge to protect the innocents or something similar? Hardly.
  21. Jan 19, 2007 #20
    Lawyers can do pro-bono work just as physicists can work indepenently on research without recieving monetary compensation. In my opinion, as long as someone is working through higher level physics and understands it, then they are physicists.

    I digress, however and will concede your point for the purpose of practicality.
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