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I am loosing my belief in Science

  1. Feb 10, 2008 #1
    I am loosing my belief in Science :(


    As the title says, I am loosing my belief in science. Not the complete science, I do believe that mechanics is real and true but the microscopical part--atoms, electrons, nucleus, waves-- though there are experiments which prove they exist, I am really not able to believe in them:/

    I think modern physics, quantum physics part is just for cramming with no real application in life. I guess I am prejudiced on this and that's why I got less marks in physics last semester (18/40) :(. Other students in my class, who went out and crammed everything got marks in the range of 25-37.

    I love maths, I like programming. Only the microscopical part of science (chemistry included) gets me bored coz you have to cram a lot, and I hate cramming. I could have gotten into a better engg. college than I am in right now, if chemistry was not all about cramming stuff.

    I am sorry if I have posted this in the wrong sub-forum, I am new here. Can you help me get my interest back in Physics ?

    Thank you.

    EDIT: Sorry for the poor English I used, its not my first language.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2008 #2

    I see that quantum mechanics espescially is hard to understand. In the famous words of the great richard feynman "if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you dont understand quantum mechanics!" (or something like that lol)

    you say you believe in mechanics etc. Why? Why is this more viable than the existence of atmoic and subatomic particles? Quantum mechanics has been shown to be accurate with incomprehensible precision. It is one of the most tested theories of our time.

    Also i dont think you have to "cram" any more with chem or physics than you do any other topic... not if you apply yourself and make an effort the first time you are asked to learn it.
  4. Feb 10, 2008 #3


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    If one can accept Newtonian mechanics but not quantum mechanics then I think you are perturbed by the lack of intuitive understanding of QM compared to Newtonian mechanics. QM takes a lot more work because of these conceptual difficulties, but that doesn't mean its a reason to not believe its true.
  5. Feb 10, 2008 #4
    Kinematics, rotational mechanics, Newton's laws. That's the part I like coz I have *seen* it happen.

    I also like thermodynamics, but its hard to believe in something like the "dual nature of matter". For me, matter is stuff without life, it cannot wander around in space in the form of waves.

    Am I behaving like paranoid or something ?
  6. Feb 10, 2008 #5


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    How do you think your modern electronics work? Do you think semiconductors in your solid-state transistors work using classical mechanics? Did you think Bardeen-Britain-Shockley all used classical mechanics to design and build the modern day transistors that we use in all of your electronics now? If and when you or your family member actually get an MRI, or a CT/PET scan, do you think the physics to produce and analyze the results all use classical mechanics?

    QM is being used by you every second of the day, even when you don't realize it. For someone who is losing "belief" in it, you sure use it a lot!

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2008
  7. Feb 10, 2008 #6
    you cant *see* wind... but i bet you believe in that. Sure there are lots of things we cant see but we can measure their effects. You dont see wind but you can tell its there by its effects on the environment around you.

    I suppose an analogy to tjis is the photoelectric effect... You cant see the photons or the released photoelectrons but you can measure the voltage that these things cause.
  8. Feb 10, 2008 #7
    Thanks for all your help. But I really can't get over the cramming part. There are big graphs, proofs of formulas, theories and what not.......I have to cram all this and empty the bucket in the exam hall on the 18th. I just want good marks out of physics this time....
  9. Feb 10, 2008 #8


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    Arrghh..the lurking slurp spiders have begun talking!!

    (No disrespect to OP meant!)
  10. Feb 10, 2008 #9
    I don't take it to heart even if you mean it!:smile:
  11. Feb 10, 2008 #10
    If you want good marks shouldnt you be well prepared enough before an exam so that you dont need to cram so hard at the last minute. are you just memorizing stuff? Learning the content behind the formulas etc is much more important and succesful than simply memorizing coursework.
  12. Feb 10, 2008 #11
    what is a slurp spider?
  13. Feb 10, 2008 #12
    Google, Yahoo and other search engines send bots (programmed stuff) all over the internet to index websites. These bots are called spiders.

    hmmm.....I think I should get to work right now.........
  14. Feb 10, 2008 #13
    You are the only person that can help gain your interest back in physics.
  15. Feb 10, 2008 #14
    It sounds like you're in a mechanical engineering program. If so, you probably won't see much direct application of modern physics today and it might appear dull or pointless. There are, however, a lot of people already talking about a mixed engineering which combines mechanical and electrical/electronics and there are areas where that is a reality now. Thus, in perhaps ten years or less, you will need at least a cursory knowledge of modern physics and perhaps a working knowledge. Theoretical physics will possibly remain mostly irrelevant to engineering (that's not a criticism - cost analysis, for example, remains mostly irrelevant to physicists).

    There are lots of subjects where you just have to cram now, learn as much as you, accept losing 70% of it within days, and be prepared to come back to it after three or four years. When you come back, with a genuine need, you'll find it much easier to pick up and assimilate as a result of having crammed before.

    To put fun back in physics, I'd recommend reading Feynman's Lectures. The guy was a hoot.
  16. Feb 10, 2008 #15
    Remember that physics is just a very mathematical description of reality - not reality itself. The thing is, mathematical models of things like "electrons" work really well at predicting what we can see or measure - in fact, our models work so well we can build TVs, cell phones, iPods and MRI machines! So it seems reasonable to expect that the quantum mechanical description of electrons frothing around a nucleus closely approximates reality even if that reality isn't readily grasped by thinking of a mechanical model.

    Often different physics constructions are used to describe the behaviour of physical systems - think of thermodynamics: on the one hand, heat can be thought of as a fluid which moves energy without moving mass, while on the other hand heat is a property of particles in constant motion. Another is example is electric current - sometimes it's convenient to think of current as a positively charged fluid flowing around a circuit and other times it's convenient to think of current as discrete negatively charged particles. So it's clear that there can be more than one mathematical metaphor for the same physical reality!

    Studying physics isn't like dumping water into a bucket - it's more like rewiring your head to do things in a different way. In physics it's not the ability to do a task that's important - it's the ability to rewire yourself.

    Don't be intimidated by proofs. Try to go over them line by line - talk yourself through step by step. By learning the PROCESS of doing the proof you won't have to memorize so much.
  17. Feb 10, 2008 #16
    As ZapperZ pointed out it's quite important to the way that electronics function. It's also essential to an understanding of chemistry at the molecular level. And as nanotechnology becomes more prevalent that may become another area where it's necessary for achieving a solid understanding of the basics. (Not to mention that it's essential to understand some of the most amazing and fascinating quandaries of the universe such as the ones that are discussed in these forums!)

    As far as the tedium of wrote memorization goes I would agree that much of it is pointless. Though some things, like learning your multiplication tables, are necessary for being able to follow along with sufficient speed in something which builds on top of it like algebra. Lots of stuff in chemistry is like this.

    I did pretty well focusing on actually learning material with disregard for what my school specifically wanted to teach, rather than caring about good marks at all. But granted I'm making my living as a software engineer rather than a scientist and my school career was in the U.S. education system. I don't know if education systems elsewhere are as flexible and as tolerant of “failure” in terms of getting poor marks sometimes because you don't have any interest in doing what the teacher says. But my experience here in the U.S. is that if you need to prove that you're academically competent for admission to some school or program you can just go and take a couple of challenging university courses part-time and be sure to get perfect marks in them.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2008
  18. Feb 10, 2008 #17
    I haven't had to cram anything in my quantum mechanics class, nor my E&M class.

    Just Friday we had a demonstration of superconductivity in my E&M class. We saw a magnet floating above the ground and spinning when you pushed it. Newton can't explain that.

    Moreover, this technology is used all the time in stuff like MagLev trains and the like. This stuff is real, man.
  19. Feb 10, 2008 #18

    Chi Meson

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    My lasers still work, whether or not you believe in them.
  20. Feb 10, 2008 #19


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    Don't take this in the wrong way, but it really doesn't matter what you believe, Google-Spider. The world is the way it is. As Zapperz and Chi Meson point out, the technology in the world we live in would not exist without the models and ideas of modern physics and quantum mechanics.

    This points out an important aspect of the nature of science. What the scientist thinks really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you believe the world should act like so, it doesn't matter if you don't think electrons exist. The only thing that matters is what nature does. You should realize that quantum mechanics and modern physics weren't made up for no reason. The theory of quantum mechanics was created to explain a host of observations that were not able to be explained by classical physics. Now, I'm sure many scientists did not want to accept the ideas of the new physics, but no matter whether they "believed" in it or not, the anomalous observations that started the development of modern physics are still present. They do not exist only because scientists wish them into existence. They are there, period! And they had to be explained.

    This is why scientists accept modern physics as it is, because it explains those phenomena that were lost to classical physics, plus it predicts many more that have since been observed. And it does both of these tasks with phenomenal precision. Scientists do not "believe" in modern physics/quantum theory because they "have faith" or something. They accept it because they have seen it work!

    So, to say that you don't believe in quantum mechanics or modern physics is, no offense, ridiculous. Saying that is equivalent to saying that you don't believe in lasers, MRI's, PET scans, Electron/ Scanning Probe Microscopes, Transistors, Diods, Solar Cells, LED's, Computers, and much, much more. Belief is not really an option. These things are proof of the fact that modern physics/quantum theory work very, VERY well, and they are in front of you every day of your life. It's not a matter of belief. It's a matter of explanation of observation, prediction, and technological development. Modern physics has helped us do all three. It has explained the observed phenomena with amazing precision. It has predicted future observed phenomena, and it has given us a framework to build technology that wouldn't work or even exist if the theories framework was not at least close to correct.

    Everyone struggles with modern physics, Google-Spider. It's because it is difficult and very non-intuitive. But saying you don't "believe" in it is just not an option, sorry. Good luck to you in the future, Google-Spider. In the future, try to enjoy being confounded and confused by the way nature works.:smile: The ability to admit the world will always have surprises that dumbfound and confuse even the best of us and the drive to explain them is what makes a person a great scientist or engineer. Good luck to you!
  21. Feb 10, 2008 #20


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    It seems to me that this thread is about difficulties in learning QM (or more precisely revising for QM exams), rather than a disbelief in modern physics. Just my two pence worth.
  22. Feb 10, 2008 #21
    I'll be person number 3 (or is it 4?) to quote ZapperZ.

    Keep in mind that, as ZapperZ said, many of the electronic technologies you use were built with solid state technologies that rely on quantum principles. MRIs can't just be thrown together with a hope for the best. These techologies were very carefully designed to perform specific functions, and an understanding of quantum mechanics was necessary. Quantum mechanics has been tested to such an extent that when a contradiction arose between quantum and general relativity, almost all physicists agreed that quantum mechanics is the correct theory, and that GR needs a revision of some sort.

    Are there things that aren't quite believable? Sure. There are days when I, even as a grad student, wonder if the parton model for nuclei really works, or if our models for stellar evolution are all that sound. The latter could be a big problem for me, since it's very close to my research interest (gamma ray astrophysics). But if you can't make yourself believe in some aspects of science, what is really the big deal? It's important to study hard anyway to achieve better grades, but beyond that I don't think it really matters all that much. I think that if you learn enough science, you'll start to see why most of it is plausible. And if you keep your eyes open, you'll also see why some of it is not!
  23. Feb 10, 2008 #22
    I don't know. I read it as "I don't understand this, therefore it isn't real."
  24. Feb 10, 2008 #23


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    You don't have to believe - only recognize that a theory/framework using these ideas satisfactorily describes and predicts certain phenomena. And that's what's important.

    I'm not even sure i believe my room exists...
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