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Is it important to enjoy the process of doing physics?

  1. Aug 1, 2013 #1
    Apologies if this has been asked before but I couldn't find any posts with the exact question.

    I'm about to go to college but I haven't decided my major yet. I have loved physics, particularly astronomy, ever since I was a child. I used to read a lot of astronomy books when I was younger. I've always been competent at physics and math at school. I took advanced physics and calculus in high school as well. I was okay at it, not exceptionally good but not too bad either.

    But my problem is, while I love the ideas and concepts in physics and math, I don't actually enjoy the PROCESS of doing physics/math. I find solving problems tedious, repetitive and stressful. So, what I wanted to know is this: Is it necessary to enjoy the process of doing your work to be satisfied and successful in your career? Or should you just tolerate your boring work for the amazing results it produces in the end?

    Any insight on this will be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2013 #2


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    I would say for anything you expect to spend your life doing, not motivated primarily by money (which, of course, is the case for physics), if you don't at least get a certain glow of satisfaction from the process, you have a problem. The ratio of process to end results is very high. Consider an analogy with programming: if you only enjoy when you deliver a working product, but all aspects of programming and testing and tuning are grunt work, you are in for a life of unhappiness.
  4. Aug 1, 2013 #3


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    In a word... yes.

    If you're thinking about physics as a possible major and potential career, it would be highly inadvisable to get into it if you don't like the process of solving problems.

    That said, this may be a decision that you should delay until you've got a first year physics class under your belt. Sometimes high school physics can be embellished with all sorts of little idiosyncrasies enforced by a particular teacher's style... marks deducted for not explicitly writing out every step in the algebraic process, requiring full sentence answers, writing out all steps to the correct significant figure, etc... these can be important at times, but once you've learned the lesson, they can make the process tedious, even to the point where you lose sight of what you're really working on.
  5. Aug 2, 2013 #4
    Yes, it is definitely important to enjoy the process of doing physics, or of whatever you end up doing.

    If you find doing physics boring, you can't just tolerate it for the amazing results in the end, because most research doesn't produce amazing results. The stuff you read about in the books is chosen from the small percentage of results that did get amazing results, a lot of the rest of it is not very amazing. If you're putting up with work you find boring hoping for amazing results, you're going to be disappointed most of the time.
  6. Aug 2, 2013 #5
    Thank you all for your replies

    I'm sorry, but I think I didn't phrase my question very well. I wouldn't be expecting amazing results. I know how rare that is. What I would tolerate the work for would be just a sense of being part of a great collective endeavor. But, I suppose that isn't a good enough reason either, is it?
  7. Aug 2, 2013 #6
    Do you find that you don't like solving *any* problems at all? Once I've done so many questions that all involve the same method, it gets boring for me and I tend to just use Wolfram Alpha. But there's nothing like working on a tough problem for hours and then finally cracking it.
  8. Aug 2, 2013 #7
    I have left Physics right after getting bachelor because while I enjoyed concepts I didn't like the process. Doing research means a lot of grunt, mundane work, it was boring for me, no creativity.

    Job is all about process. Chose a job with one that is most interesting for you.
  9. Aug 2, 2013 #8
    There is sometimes a certain satisfaction in having understood and solved a tough problem successfully, as there is with accomplishing any difficult task. However, I don't think I would like to sit with tough problems for hours just for the pure pleasure of it or as a hobby.
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