I want to study physics and related maths, but I am confused....

In summary, the individual is a 23-year-old who has struggled with consistency in finishing courses and pursuing a career in music. They have a strong interest in physics and math, and are now considering a general science bachelor's degree from a distance education university. However, they are intimidated by the length and difficulty of higher level texts, and unsure if they can balance studying the university's material and typical books at the same time. They also have a desire to pursue a master's in a specific subject, but fear they may not succeed.
  • #1
Rishabh Narula
61
5
here is what i wish to say.

basically i am a 23 year old guy who has wasted a lot of time not finishing any course i started and also occasionally trying to be a musician but also did not fully get into that.
There were times since completing high school that I found myself very intersted in reading elementary physics and maths like calclus,classical Newtonian physics and also I dreamt of someday understanding higher and higher levels of physics and maths.

I am now settling on doing a graduate level sort of physics maths chemistry course from a distant education sort of university.
and i am reading texts relevant to it currently.
it is not exactly a typical specific degree.it would contain a lot of core topics that one would see in a bachelors degree of maths,physics or chemistry.
it is basically a general science bachelors degree.after which you can pursue a master.if you succeed.really emphasise the if succeed part.

now the problems i am facing is...

I get scared by the length of higher level physics maths texts and also how easily what you study in them is forgotten.also had this scary thought that it would take me a lifetime just reading those big maths physics books.Maybe not that exactly but definitely a really long time.5 or more years really.

also a lot of times i would just have to finish the study material of the university first which since i studied it a bit of 1st semester
i think is taken from typical physics maths and chemistry texts only.
so i get bogged down by the thought that maybe it will be hard to read both that study material and typical books at same time.

and also very intimated by how hard physics and maths texts get at higher levels like relativity quantum mechanics or something like abstract algebra topology etc.
and at the same time i do have this desire to do all this since,i personally think it would become a regret in my life if I didn't study physics maths and got into some other field.
Since i was and am always very curious and interested in what deep tuths lie in these two subjects.

and well not like some other field would be a piece of cake,and also there i might have this regret sort of thought going in my mind that i really wished i had not given up on the physics maths desire.

Can say I do wish to climb the mountain but get scared I might not be able to and might not be able to make a career and just be some really big failure.
Any advise for someone like me?
Open to all sorts of them currently.

Thank you for your time.
 
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  • #2
Rishabh Narula said:
I am now settling on doing a graduate level sort of physics maths chemistry course from a distant education sort of university.
I do not understand your present situation. Do you have a BS? and in what.
 
  • #3
gleem said:
I do not understand your present situation. Do you have a BS? and in what.
no no...as i said.i have not been consistent with anything in my life till now.
I am thinking of starting a bachelors in science.
 
  • #4
Rishabh Narula said:
no no...as i said.i have not been consistent with anything in my life till now.
I am thinking of starting a bachelors in science.
it is not a typical bs.
it is a general bachelor of science degree.
I am from india.
it is like one only current opportunity i have to study physics and maths and have a degree for it,
 
  • #5
Rishabh Narula said:
it is not a typical bs.
it is a general bachelor of science degree.it includes many topics of a bachelors in maths physics and chemistry.like in 1st year study would involve calculus and differential equations in maths and at the same time classical mechanics and electromagnetism in physics and inorganic and organic chemistry in chemistry.
it sort of gives you a general overview of these science subjects in the degree not going into depths,but one can still do a masters in either of these subjects after it by preparing specially for masters of a particular subject.

Rishabh Narula said:
I am from india.
it is like one only current opportunity i have to study physics and maths and have a degree for it,
 
  • #6
Rishabh Narula said:
here is what i wish to say.
basically i am a 23 year old guy who has wasted a lot of time not finishing any course i started and also occasionally trying to be a musician but also did not fully get into that.
There were times since completing high school that I found myself very intersted in reading elementary physics and maths like calclus,classical Newtonian physics and also I dreamt of someday understanding higher and higher levels of physics and maths.
I am now settling on doing a graduate level sort of physics maths chemistry course from a distant education sort of university.
and i am reading texts relevant to it currently.
it is not exactly a typical specific degree.it would contain a lot of core topics that one would see in a bachelors degree of maths,physics or chemistry.
it is basically a general science bachelors degree.after which you can pursue a master.if you succeed.really emphasise the if succeed part.
now the problems i am facing is...
I get scared by the length of higher level physics maths texts and also how easily what you study in them is forgotten.also had this scary thought that it would take me a lifetime just reading those big maths physics books.Maybe not that exactly but definitely a really long time.5 or more years really.
also a lot of times i would just have to finish the study material of the university first which since i studied it a bit of 1st semester
i think is taken from typical physics maths and chemistry texts only.
so i get bogged down by the thought that maybe it will be hard to read both that study material and typical books at same time.
and also very intimated by how hard physics and maths texts get at higher levels like relativity quantum mechanics or something like abstract algebra topology etc.
and at the same time i do have this desire to do all this since,i personally think it would become a regret in my life if I didn't study physics maths and got into some other field.
Since i was and am always very curious and interested in what deep tuths lie in these two subjects.
and well not like some other field would be a piece of cake,and also there i might have this regret sort of thought going in my mind that i really wished i had not given up on the physics maths desire.
Can say I do wish to climb the mountain but get scared I might not be able to and might not be able to make a career and just be some really big failure.
Any advise for someone like me?
Open to all sorts of them currently.
Thank you for your time.
In describing yourself you have described lots of people including me. If textbooks are too intimidating and for most of us they are, satisfy your curiosity by reading more general science books including history books on science and math. There are a lot of truths already out there. Stumbling over a small truth can be just as exciting as understanding a big one.
 
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  • #7
Rishabh Narula said:
it sort of gives you a general overview of these science subjects in the degree not going into depths,but one can still do a masters in either of these subjects after it by preparing specially for masters of a particular subject.
You need to find a better, more productive and satisfactory program. You will need guided and rigorous study in Mathematics, Physics, other major topics, and laboratory exercises.
 
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  • #8
Rishabh Narula said:
basically i am a 23 year old guy who has wasted a lot of time not finishing any course i started and also occasionally trying to be a musician but also did not fully get into that.
Why did you not finish these courses?

You seem not to be able to make up your mind on what you want to do.

So the first thing is to make a firm commitment and focus. Set goals, where do you want to be in four years, in eight years, etc, Are your decisions consistent with those goals.

Rishabh Narula said:
I get scared by the length of higher level physics maths texts and also how easily what you study in them is forgotten.also had this scary thought that it would take me a lifetime just reading those big maths physics books.Maybe not that exactly but definitely a really long time.5 or more years really.

Any time you look at a large project and the mountain of work that it entails you can despair. Remember the old saying that a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step. If you can take single steps confidently and consistently you can complete the journey. Start at the beginning and do not hesitate to take courses that you have taken before but feel that you do not adequately understand. A firm foundation in the fundamentals is needed on which to build the more complex subjects. Keep your attention on the next step and do not worry about the unknowable future. One firm confident step at a time no backtracking, no diversions, no distractions. Enjoy the journey. Wake up each morning ready to make progress. Without this attitude, you will not succeed.
 
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  • #9
Robert Stenton said:
In describing yourself you have described lots of people including me. If textbooks are too intimidating and for most of us they are, satisfy your curiosity by reading more general science books including history books on science and math.
Sorry Robert, but who is "us"? I'm not intimidated by textbooks, and I often got goosebumps back in school when opening a new textbook that I would be studying in an upcoming semester and seeing the topics and math that I would soon understand. I still get the same feeling when I self-study from textbooks like the new textbook "Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering" by our own @Orodruin :smile:

https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/the-birth-of-a-textbook/

And I think this feedback is much more on point:
symbolipoint said:
You need to find a better, more productive and satisfactory program. You will need guided and rigorous study in Mathematics, Physics, other major topics, and laboratory exercises.
 
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  • #10
berkeman said:
I'm not intimidated by textbooks, and I often got goosebumps back in school when opening a new textbook that I would be studying in an upcoming semester and seeing the topics and math that I would soon understand.
Wow, same here. Looking through those books and finding new things I will be able to apply the subject. In a sense, they were like presents. Sometimes exciting and sometimes satisfying.
 
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  • #11
thank you for all your reply respected sir/madam's.
surely finding them helpful,
especially the one from mr. gleem,
and also how mr. berkeman said that the textbooks should not be intimidating if you like what you do...that's sort of what i guess the gist of what he said.

will surely tell you all what i am doing...presently i am thinking of taking up this current genreal science degree opportunity only. Since, I do sort of live with my parents...this degree program is not very expensive and all and sort of the only one they said i can opt for if i really want to study maths or science and have some degree for it.

will surely tell you all in future how its going.
and anymore advise from kind professionals like you would be really nice.
thank you for your time.
 
  • #12
can someone any also tell me how things you read in higher level maths or science texts go into long term memory.
for example
i remember reading in a calculus transcendentals text about how a graph of a not so simple equation like 8/4-x^2 can be plotted using various techniques like asymptotes concavity etc etc. but honestly its been around a month since i had read that and seriously this is all i remember.
another example i remember once reading about how the equation of a rocket can be derived using Newtons laws and conservation of momentum and some vector algebra and derivatives.
but i honestly do not remember the derivation in anymore detail than this.

this is what really scares me about these texts.
like how it all gets forgotten.
any advise on such things?
 
  • #13
Rishabh Narula said:
I am now settling on doing a graduate level sort of physics maths chemistry course from a distant education sort of university.
You really should pick one area to focus in: physics or math or chemistry.
Rishabh Narula said:
I am thinking of starting a bachelors in science.
Since you have not even started a BS degree, that is not considered a graduate level degree. A graduate degree would be one that you get after a BS (or BA) degree, such as a Master's degree of PhD.

Rishabh Narula said:
i remember reading in a calculus transcendentals text about how a graph of a not so simple equation like 8/4-x^2 can be plotted using various techniques like asymptotes concavity etc etc. but honestly its been around a month since i had read that and seriously this is all i remember.
Some of the properties of the graph of ##f(x) = \frac 8 {4 - x^2}## and other functions would be discussed in a precalculus course. Other properties such as maximum or minimum points and concavity would be discussed after you had learned about derivatives. Just reading the textbook probably won't stay in your memory very long -- for that you would need to work a lot of problems to firmly cement these ideas.
 
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  • #14
@Mark44 sir i know one should pick one area of interest. And that is usually what happens in India too.like we call it bsc honors in maths or physics or chemistry or whatever science.
but my current situation is like my parents would not want to invest in some expensive college for such a degree.
because I sort of changed too many courses since high school and also in between tried being a musician for a year.
i seem very unstable to them
i just found this one open university that offers this general science bachelors degree which does not require much fees and so my parents don't care much as long as I'm not blowing off their money too much.
and it is possible to do a masters in a specific subject through it by just preparing more for the masters exams etc. of the particular subject.
the open university does not offer a physics major or maths major.
i don't know why really.
as i said my current option is only this to be able to study maths and physics and have some qualification for it.

to be honest i sometimes wish i had some clarity as a kid about how interesting math and physics are and wish i had been working on that interest since 15 or something.it would have a completely different scenario now for me then,
but well.what can i say...this is an option and path i have currently.so...idk : 3 : 3
 
  • #15
@Mark44 hey as long as we are in the topic.
so basically what you would say that tons and tons of hours of practice and problems are the key to fit the information in those books to memory?
 
  • #16
Rishabh Narula said:
@Mark44 hey as long as we are in the topic.
so basically what you would say that tons and tons of hours of practice and problems are the key to fit the information in those books to memory?
Pretty much. Just reading the material isn't enough.
 
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  • #17
I second what @Mark44 said ##-## learning math without doing any exercises is like learning programming without writing any code ##-## or learning how to ride a bicycle without ever actually riding one.

There is joy in doing mathematics ##-## e.g. when you see the answer that you have produced ##-## watch the solution emerging from doing the procedure ##-## reflect on the imagination and insight and understanding involved.

There is also tedium and drudgery ##-## I presume that to be true even for luminaries such as Euclid, Archimedes, Gauss ##-## it's well-known that Ramanujan didn't like doing proofs, but eventually, he buckled down and produced some important proofs.
 
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  • #18
berkeman said:
I'm not intimidated by textbooks
Are you willing to hold a hardbound version of MTW above your head? With one hand? :wink:
 
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  • #19
Vanadium 50 said:
Are you willing to hold a hardbound version of MTW above your head? With one hand? :wink:
##-## In the mid '60s, when a student misbehaved in his classroom, our 4th grade science teacher would make the offender hold a textbook copy in each hand, with arms outstretched orthogonally, and when the offender started to sag his arms, would slap the back of the legs with a ruler ##-## a gentler punishment than being whacked with a paddle. :wink:
 
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  • #20
Rishabh Narula said:
can someone any also tell me how things you read in higher level maths or science texts go into long term memory.
Almost entirely, they do not. Knowledge and skills which go with them will become stale, and need to be rejuvenated or maintained. This means, reviewing and restudying what was previously learned and doing exercises such as were previously done.
 
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  • #21
thank you all for your replies
found them very helpful.
 
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  • #22
gleem said:
Why did you not finish these courses?

You seem not to be able to make up your mind on what you want to do.

So the first thing is to make a firm commitment and focus. Set goals, where do you want to be in four years, in eight years, etc, Are your decisions consistent with those goals.
Any time you look at a large project and the mountain of work that it entails you can despair. Remember the old saying that a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step. If you can take single steps confidently and consistently you can complete the journey. Start at the beginning and do not hesitate to take courses that you have taken before but feel that you do not adequately understand. A firm foundation in the fundamentals is needed on which to build the more complex subjects. Keep your attention on the next step and do not worry about the unknowable future. One firm confident step at a time no backtracking, no diversions, no distractions. Enjoy the journey. Wake up each morning ready to make progress. Without this attitude, you will not succeed.
Gleem Gave you the best advice. Just focus on what he/she said and you will "succeed". Remember that the journey is success. If you start doing what Gleem advised you to do and, God forbid, you die today, you could proudly claim that you have tried, that you have walked the journey not just dreamed and regretted. I know what you feel because I share with you those dreams and I did accomplish some of them. Never forget what Gleem told you: Start with small steps and be extremely consistent (daily). Do not be distracted; keep laser beam focus on your goal with small but consisting steps. Conclusion: 1) believe in the power of small steps and act. 2) be "religiously" consistent with your task. You do that and you will succeed even if you die tomorrow. Anything you fail. Make the choice to succeed and have fun in the process. Don't wait for the results, if you try you already succeeded. Best wishes for I really want you to succeed because I see myself in you.
 
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  • #23
well to be honest about my current affairs,I totally threw the whole I want to study maths and physics and understand the universe thing out of the window.

My father told me to stop wasting time and do something do able and easily job getting.I gave an entrance exam for an online degree in data science and applications from iit madras,which is one of the best technology institutes in India really.I got the marks for entrance into it because well while I was running after the physics maths dreams,i developed a good grasp on basic knowledge of maths.

Currently working on clearing my semesters.Well maybe I'll never forget how much I really wanted to understand maths and physics in my lifetime,but I guess it just wasn't meant for me,and just like my father told me,I really should focus on something that I can do more easily and get money from,cause well,he won't like always be there to have my back financially.

all the while I also have become quite existential over the years,like wth matters anyways right?no one will ever truely know what's truly behind everything.might as well just look after myself instead.
 
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  • #24
Congratulations on getting into IIT. Your father gives solid advice -- it is always good to have a marketable skill. As to the bigger picture, do not give up on understanding reality. If you are a together person, you can always carve out the time needed for your own pursuits while being a useful member of family and broader society.
 
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  • #25
yeah i guess reading some science novels like brief history of time and all would suffice as one of the mentors had advised here.was a good idea really.
 

Related to I want to study physics and related maths, but I am confused....

1. What is the difference between physics and math?

Physics is the study of matter, energy, and their interactions, while math is the study of numbers, quantities, and shapes. Physics uses mathematical principles to explain and predict physical phenomena, while math is a tool used to solve problems in physics and other scientific fields.

2. Which branch of physics should I focus on?

There are many branches of physics, such as classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and astrophysics. It is important to explore and gain a basic understanding of each branch before deciding which one to focus on. You can also consider your interests and career goals to help guide your decision.

3. Do I need to be good at math to study physics?

While a strong foundation in math is essential for studying physics, it is not the only requirement. Physics also involves critical thinking, problem-solving, and experimentation. With dedication and practice, anyone can improve their math skills and succeed in physics.

4. What career opportunities are available with a degree in physics and math?

A degree in physics and math can open up a wide range of career opportunities, including research, engineering, data analysis, education, and more. Many industries, such as technology, healthcare, and energy, rely on professionals with a background in physics and math.

5. How can I prepare for studying physics and math in college?

To prepare for studying physics and math in college, it is important to have a strong foundation in math and science from high school. You can also read books, watch online lectures, and participate in summer programs to gain a better understanding of the subjects. Additionally, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills can also be beneficial.

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