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How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the Physics Mindset

  1. Nov 3, 2011 #1
    How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the "Physics Mindset"

    Dear physicsforums,

    Recently I've decided to take physics much more seriously, and - although this may sound lame - want to make a major discovery in physics. Ultimately, that's my goal. Don't tell me whether it's realistic or not, I know it isn't, and I actively ignore that.

    I've had a lot of free time lately, and it's given me the chance to really think about what it takes. I've been watching tons of Richard Feynman videos on youtube - which I think have helped a lot. After watching probably 40 hours of video over the last year or so, I think I have a pretty good idea about what aspects of Feynman's thinking led him to the sort of way of thinking in which he made a discovery, and why/how. I could write about that (and maybe I will later) but the subject of my post is different.

    I've noticed that sometimes I'm in a specific mindset that is excellent for physics. I forget almost everything, and I care about nothing else than to figure out how everything works. It's fascinating, and figuring out things in this mood is the best thing ever. It's not only effective, it's a lot of fun.

    However, the mindset doesn't come all the time. In fact, most of the time I don't have it. Most of the time, doing physics is anywhere from simply entertaining to frustrating/feels like a chore. On average it's probably towards the entertaining side, but it's not enough motivation when it's like this.

    So, my question - I'm sure there are tons of people who can relate in terms of getting in a mindset in which you just want to know how everything works. And I was wondering if people have come up with factors that contribute to the likelihood of getting in this mindset in the first place.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the "Physics Mindset"

    I'd suggest going to school and getting a degree in something your interested in. Once you actually work on real world problems I bet your interest will greatly increase.

    If you don't want to go to school, then maybe try finding an area where you can contribute and focus on that? Though without a degree I'm not sure what that would be.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2011 #3
    Re: How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the "Physics Mindset"

    Drakkith,

    I'm currently an undergrad physics major. I'm aware that schooling in physics will help - I think that's a given. But if that were all it took, there would be many more successful theoretical physicists.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2011 #4

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the "Physics Mindset"

    Excellent! I need to get my show on the road before it's too late...lol.
    Other than trying to find something you are interested in, I can't really say what can help you get in that mindset. For me I just like to learn new stuff mostly.
     
  6. Nov 4, 2011 #5
    Re: How to make a discovery in Physics/How to get in the "Physics Mindset"

    One obvious idea that I have had recently is to take the path of least resistance, at least most of the time. So, I just learn whatever is the easiest to learn. Could also be whatever is most interesting.

    Actually, it's something I have always done to some extent, but I realized recently, that, despite what that little voice inside my head was telling me, I have tolerated way too much BS in terms of the material I have been reading. Sometimes one book will be really good when it comes to a certain topic, but then, on another topic, it sucks. So, rather than just putting up with it, you find another book. Or you see if you can derive some of it yourself. A long time ago, I came up with the principle that if something is not intuitive, it's a waste of time to learn it because it's very forgettable and not very enlightening, so you may as well just look it up if you need it. Maybe, you shouldn't be too rigid about this. From time to time, a little frustration is probably necessary.

    I guess part of this realization is the result of finding Baez's seminar notes (I knew about his blog, but the seminar notes are the best thing he's done because they are more complete). So, that's one thing. Find the people who you like to learn from. Feynman is a good source for a lot of people, but even Feynman, I find, doesn't always have the best coverage of everything. He's just like other good sources (except better). Usually does a great job, but not always the best.
     
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