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Other I don't truly know if I like physics

  1. Dec 23, 2017 #1
    I am currently a senior in high school and I am unsure if I actually like physics. I never took a "real" physics class, but rather a physical science course that had a physics section that I absolutely loved so much.

    Are there any books that could help me figure out this dilemma?

    I would also like to add that I haven't been a very good student until recently since that is when I started to apply myself more. I didn't realize the importance of math until last year when I took that physical science course so I have made some pretty mediocre/bad grades in math until recently. I made a B in Algebra I, a C in Algebra II, a C in Geometry, and an A in rather simple Business Math.

    The most recent course I've taken in College Algebra which would be about the equivalent to a good bit of the Algebra from Precalc, and I just finished the course last semester with an A and my final average in the class was a 97.06%.

    I am registered to take College Trigonometry next semester so I will be able to take Calculus I my freshman year of college.

    Also because of my lack of effort, I will have to attend a CC for my first two years of college so that may have an impact on my further education.

    Final question: Would physics even be worth it for me?
     
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  3. Dec 23, 2017 #2

    symbolipoint

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    Yes, worth it if you find it to be interesting and willing to put in the work to learn. The starting at a C.C. is not a problem. You seem to be progressing well with Mathematics. You might be ready to start or try a real Physics course during or just after your Calculus 1.
     
  4. Dec 23, 2017 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Why do you need to know now? Why not take a class in it when you get to college?
     
  5. Dec 25, 2017 #4
    The college I will be attending doesn't offer concurrent enrollment with Calculus I and Calc based physics I and the class isn't offered in the spring so I will have to wait until my second year there to take the class so I would have some time to read books that relate to physics until then.
     
  6. Dec 25, 2017 #5

    symbolipoint

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    Fine! Learn at least Calculus 1 first, and as soon as the chance, enroll in Physics 1 - Mechanics for the Science & Engineering students and how it goes may help you understand if you like it and how good you may be. Just understand that both it will be a hard course and you will learn much. Not impossible to learn, just it is hard and requires an effort.
     
  7. Dec 25, 2017 #6
    Getting mediocre grades because you failed to apply yourself is one thing. Getting mediocre grades because you were unable to do better is something else entirely. A transcript that shows a sudden, and sustained, improvement in grades is self explanatory.

    The first year college courses for almost any technical field are all the same: calculus, physics, chemistry. You can change to almost any other technical field after your first year without losing course credits. So dive in, get started, and have fun. You can always change your mind later.
     
  8. Dec 25, 2017 #7
    My son got his passion for physics and decided on a physics major primarily though a Coursera astrophysics course and watching the online videos for the Feynman Lectures in Physics and other videos from Richard Feynman.

    http://www.richard-feynman.net/videos.htm

    https://online.duke.edu/course/introduction-astronomy/

    The Coursera course he took is now a free course at Duke (see link).

    If those Feynman videos can't help you find your "on button" for physics, you might just be cut out for something else.
     
  9. Dec 25, 2017 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't see how it changes anything. You don't need to know if you like it before you've taken a class in it.
     
  10. Dec 25, 2017 #9
    One also doesn't need to take a class in physics before one knows if they like it.

    I knew I loved physics from elementary school - checking out books on light and relativity from the school library and eagerly reading the Funk and Wagnalls science yearbooks as soon as they arrived every year. I recall one year taking the new science yearbook with me to the dentist's office and reading the article on quarks in the waiting room. This approach continued through junior high school, and my physical science class in 9th grade just whetted my appetite for more.

    My first physics class (12th grade) was actually a considerable disappointment, as I found AP Biology that I was in concurrently to be much more exciting. But I knew that was more about a suboptimal teacher and a curriculum that focused more on preliminaries than on the really good stuff. It is somewhat unfortunate that most approaches spend so much dry time focusing on the preliminaries that there is a lot of dry plowing up the turf in most approaches to physics before they get to the part that I'd been longing for and dreaming about for so many years. A less patient soul would have given up.
     
  11. Dec 25, 2017 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    The OP isn't sure. Maybe you were, but he isn't.
     
  12. Dec 25, 2017 #11
    Right. But my point is that there are a lot of things one can do to discover one's love for physics (or not) other than waiting for the classes to roll around in one's school. The online Duke Astrophysics class is free and offered on a rolling schedule. The Feynman videos are also free and likely to stir one's passion if there is passion there to be stirred for physics.
     
  13. Dec 25, 2017 #12

    symbolipoint

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    The reality of studying physics can be tougher on a student than the pre-conceived interest would suggest to the student.
     
  14. Dec 25, 2017 #13
    I guess I tend to take most questions literally, so I was addressing this one more as "How do I figure out if I like Physics?" which is a bit more focused than "Should I study Physics?"

    Liking Physics is a necessary but not sufficient condition for studying Physics. The other conditions need to be considered also, but they are something of a waste of time and effort until and unless someone likes it. Think if it this way: liking a girl is a necessary but not sufficient condition to marrying her. If you don't even like her, why bother considering the other issues necessary to determine the wisdom of marrying her? Figure out if you like her first.
     
  15. Dec 26, 2017 #14

    symbolipoint

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    Very very interesting comparison. Reading what you say there reminds me of Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights".

    Of course, the student does not need to "know right now", but he as a few months to decide. Meanwhile, he must be sure he has built up the necessary Math knowledge, and then try the first real Physics course and then he could possibly think beyond what may come in the next real Physics course (the lower division E & M course).
     
  16. Dec 26, 2017 #15
    Thank you for those resources. I will check out the astronomy course once it is available again. I'm pretty sure I will like that course because I have loved astronomy since I was a little boy and it is still my all time favorite topic! Richard Feynman is extremely brilliant and is a very interesting man to listen to!
     
  17. Dec 26, 2017 #16
    Do you think it would be worth it to take Calculus I over the summer so I can start Calculus-based physics in the Fall? Or is Calculus I too much for such a short term? I would be taking it along with the first college level English course, ENG 101, if I choose to take it over the summer.
     
  18. Dec 26, 2017 #17

    symbolipoint

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    Probably a bad idea to enroll in such a course for a summer session. On the other hand, you SHOULD try to study Calculus 1 on your own, FOR THE WHOLE SUMMER season's length, like for 16 to 18 weeks, so that you will know some of it at least somewhat, before enrolling for study in the Fall term.
     
  19. Dec 26, 2017 #18
    I will keep that in mind and try to get a hold of the Calc. textbook my college uses for both Calc. 1 and 2 after I am finished with College Trig.
     
  20. Dec 26, 2017 #19
    An accredited Calc 1 course in the summer is like taking a drink of water from a firehose. A number of students I've mentored take Coursera Calculus One (unaccredited) as a lower pressure test run before taking the accredited college version of Calculus 1. It has worked well for them.
     
  21. Dec 26, 2017 #20
    You and symbolipoint have the same thing in mind. It would be better to do that so that I will have a bit of a base before starting Calc. I in the Fall, and it would also give me time to make sure my Algebra skills are as sharp as possible before taking on Calc. I.
     
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