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I want to be smart

  1. Jul 3, 2009 #1
    I really do, I've been working really hard but I still have a lot of problems with trig. Like it's just so confusing and memorizing the angles and the sin and cos stuff. And I'm really starting to get into some really advanced physics, like learning about acceleration and stuff moving and stuff, like even knowing how much my speed increases when i have acceleration. And yeah, im having a bumpy ride with knowing what is speed and velacity. Physics I don't think something I could even do but I am really learning.

    But I really want to be smart. What do I do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2009 #2


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  4. Jul 4, 2009 #3
    im studying so hard but i just dont get what trig is. what do i do????? i feel like im trapped.
  5. Jul 4, 2009 #4
    Study Harder.
  6. Jul 4, 2009 #5
    Well as far as trig and physics go...

    Learn the "Laws" and know when and how to apply them. You have to convince yourself that any particular law is true (and the implications of that law). This doesn't necessarily mean you have to run a proof, but you do need to make sure you truly understand the concept. Do not move on to new concepts until you are sure you understand the one you're working on (unless you're really stuck or something, but then you should seek help from someone). A professor can tell you that such and such law is valid, but until you convince yourself that it is valid and why it is valid, you don't understand the true importance of said law.

    Of course, math and physics require lots and lots of practice, so don't sweat it if you're not great at it in the beginning. The most important aspect is how you progress. I mean, do you continually make the same mistakes, or are you learning from each mistake and making a conscious effort not to repeat it? This is important, because if you are making the same mistakes then you're not being attentive enough to what concepts you are or are not picking up on.

    In short, convince yourself of every little thing before moving on and of course, practice practice practice!
  7. Jul 4, 2009 #6


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    Hi, Lola.
    I've been corresponding with you in the Physics section regarding velocity. Having just read this post of yours, I'm afraid that my last entry in that sub-forum might be insulting to you. That was not my intention. I suspected a language barrier, but this thread shows that you have a good mastery of English.
    Don't for a second think that you're not intelligent just because you have difficulty with a particular subject. I love astrophysics and mechanical engineering, but have a grade 9 math education. Just because you don't have professional qualifications shouldn't lessen your interest in a subject. You might not end up with a career in the field, but that doesn't mean that you can't still love it.
  8. Jul 4, 2009 #7
    thanks :) did you need math in astrophysics and mechanical engineering? what does grade 9 math eduaction consist of?
  9. Jul 4, 2009 #8


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    You need intense mathematical knowledge for either subject. Grade 9 math means that I learned (and have since forgotten) basic algebra and trigonometry. Given the measurements, I can figure out the area or volume of a rectangular, spherical, or round structure. I'd be lost if it was a pyramid or dodecahedron. :redface:
  10. Jul 4, 2009 #9
    Study... and patience.

    Try looking at it from another perspective. You are already smart. Like Michelangelo chipped away at the block of marble to reveal his statue, if you chip away at your studies you will come to see the form of the subject. You already have the potential. It just needs to be shaped. Rather than measure your success by your current difficulties, measure it by your effort. Focus on the task at hand. If you are running a race and have 20 miles left to go and you're already feeling tired, if you concentrate on the finish line you may discourage yourself and quit. If you focus on the next step you will be one step closer to your goal. That step in itself is an achievement. If you put forth your best effort then you shouldn't fear failure. The instant you decide the effort is in vain is when you accept failure. Enjoy the challenge. It makes you stronger, or smarter in this case.
  11. Jul 4, 2009 #10
    Did Einstein really say ""Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you mine are far greater." ?
  12. Jul 4, 2009 #11

    I was at a point where I was falling behind in my high school math class and couldn't catch up. My solution was to find a tutor who gave night classes to students at their own pace which enabled me to catch up.

    Catching up is very important, because if you don't grasp a certain section, other sections that build upon it will continue to elude you.

    If you are in high school, you might find out if your teacher has a study/question time available in the morning before school. Many do.
  13. Jul 4, 2009 #12


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    Excellent post, Huck... and it's nice to hear from you again.
    Anticitizen, you also offer good advise.
  14. Jul 4, 2009 #13
    Thanks Danger. Good to see you too.

    Now I just have to figure out how to follow my own advice.
  15. Jul 4, 2009 #14


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    Like giving dieting advice, it's always easier said than done.
  16. Jul 4, 2009 #15
    being smart involves constant study, dedicate more time and patience towards your material. In your free time try reading outside whats taught in school.

    I was fortunate when I was in primary school to receive a picture encylopedia that I kept going back to many times. Now you kids are luckier with wikipedia - its amazing. Use your free time to learn about something new.

    And if you don't understand something - seek out help, find another person that understands the material to help you. Try to see Trigonometry as a relationship for angles that begin with right hand triangle relationships that extend to non right hand triangles and circle geometry.

    Its a fundamental rule that you will use more of later on

    just memorize the rules for now.

    I used SOHCAHTOA back in the day for basic right angle triangle rules

    Sine = Opposite/Hyp
    Cos = Adj / Hyp
    Tan = Opp/Adj

    See what works for you
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2009
  17. Jul 4, 2009 #16
    Don't waste time in the lounge of physicsforums....
  18. Jul 4, 2009 #17


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    Staff: Mentor

    One thing that helps me with trig a lot is to graph the sin(x), cos(x) and tan(x) functions for a few cycles on a graph with one beneath the other. That helps you to remember what they look like, and also helps you remember why the tan(x) looks like it does with the asymptotes (because of divides by zero when the cos function goes to zero).

    That 3-plot graph should be in your mind's eye whenever you are doing trig -- try it to see if it helps you as much as it has helped me over the years.

    Also, in your studying, try my two mantras:

    "Be positive"

    "Relax and focus"
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