Is Physics right for me?

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  • #1
Connor Smith
Hello! (sorry if this isn't posted in the right place!)

A few weeks ago I came across a video on Youtube about Physics, and for hours I ended up watching lectures about it, which in turn made me think to possibly try to work towards a career in physics as it seemed extremely interesting and something I could really enjoy!
But, the problem is, I am currently 19, no longer in education and when I was at college I had to re do my maths G.C.S.E (of which i failed again), as far as I can tell that is quite an important part of physics (sarcastically laughs). Is it too late to go back, get my maths G.C.S.E & then progress into A-Level maths, then to study physics? I've never been great at maths and have always found it difficult to get the grasp of, but I am willing to put in the time to learn what I need to to finally accomplish it.

thanks! :)
 

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  • #2
Dr. Courtney
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The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.

If you can conquer the math, you can learn the physics.
 
  • #3
Meir Achuz
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If math isn't easy for you, you should not go into physics.
 
  • #4
Dr. Courtney
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If math isn't easy for you, you should not go into physics.

I respectfully disagree. Math was very difficult for me. I hated it. But I persevered and eventually mastered the math I needed to succeed in Physics, eventually going on to earn a BS in Physics (summa cum laude, LSU), a PhD in Physics (MIT), and serve on the math faculty of the United States Air Force Academy.

Math need not be "easy" to succeed in Physics, just possible.
 
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  • #5
Choppy
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Well, to make a career out of physics, you need more interest than just an afternoon of watching You Tube videos. There is a lot of stuff in physics that's just downright interesting - at least for some people. And so it's easy to get sucked in for a short time.

But as you've already surmised, to pursue it academically to any great extent, you have to put in the time. You have to learn the math at it's core. If you're struggling with GCSE or A-level mathematics, that's a hurdle you'll have to overcome. So the question ultimately goes back to you. If you were struggling with the math - why was that? Did you simply not care at the time? Or were you really putting in an honest effort and just not connecting? Do you think that it's possible that if you do something different, you'll have a reasonable chance at a different result?

As far as being too late - it's far from it. Sure you'll be a little older than some other students, but in the long run, it won't matter at all.
 
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  • #6
symbolipoint
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Hello! (sorry if this isn't posted in the right place!)

A few weeks ago I came across a video on Youtube about Physics, and for hours I ended up watching lectures about it, which in turn made me think to possibly try to work towards a career in physics as it seemed extremely interesting and something I could really enjoy!
But, the problem is, I am currently 19, no longer in education and when I was at college I had to re do my maths G.C.S.E (of which i failed again), as far as I can tell that is quite an important part of physics (sarcastically laughs). Is it too late to go back, get my maths G.C.S.E & then progress into A-Level maths, then to study physics? I've never been great at maths and have always found it difficult to get the grasp of, but I am willing to put in the time to learn what I need to to finally accomplish it.

thanks! :)
Is some way possible for you to build-up and study the mathematics? You should tell what GCSE and A-Level mean, but whatever, if you must learn Basic Arithmetic and common consumer and peasant level mathematics before getting to "Introductory" Algebra and then continue from there, then your plan should be to do all this. The pathways available to you, only you might know.

I do not know what would be the typical terminology where you are for necessary mathematics for a person at the age of maybe 14, so I used a crude word, "peasant", so you could adjust according to the style in your region.
 
  • #7
StatGuy2000
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Is some way possible for you to build-up and study the mathematics? You should tell what GCSE and A-Level mean, but whatever, if you must learn Basic Arithmetic and common consumer and peasant level mathematics before getting to "Introductory" Algebra and then continue from there, then your plan should be to do all this. The pathways available to you, only you might know.

I do not know what would be the typical terminology where you are for necessary mathematics for a person at the age of maybe 14, so I used a crude word, "peasant", so you could adjust according to the style in your region.

Please note that the OP is likely from the UK. GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education (the British equivalent of the GED in the US).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Certificate_of_Secondary_Education

A-levels (also known as General Certificate of Education Advanced Level) consist of a sequence of courses as well as a secondary school graduation qualification required before being able to be admitted to a university in the UK or in some former British colonies (e.g. Australia, New Zealand). See the following Wikipedia article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GCE_Advanced_Level
 
  • #8
Apple_Mango
Go take Algebra 1 and once you are completed Algebra 1, take an Algebra one based physics course. Take Algebra 2 while taking Algebra one based physics course. You may have to do Algebra 2 anyways to complete the general education requirements.

Also, I didn't know this until later on but colleges offer Algebra 1 and 2 in a single semester. Keep this in mind if you want to move faster.
 
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  • #9
ZapperZ
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Go take Algebra 1 and once you are completed Algebra 1, take an Algebra one based physics course. Take Algebra 2 while taking Algebra one based physics course. You may have to do Algebra 2 anyways to complete the general education requirements.

Also, I didn't know this until later on but colleges offer Algebra 1 and 2 in a single semester. Keep this in mind if you want to move faster.

@Apple_Mango : how applicable do you think is your advice for someone in the UK educational system? Do you think, for example, that the info that "... colleges offer Algebra 1 and 2 in a single semester... " is applicable in UK universities, in which you need to already have A-Level exams to be IN these universities in the first place?

People! I appreciate that you guys are eager to help! But you need to look at where the OP is coming from FIRST before giving out advice that he/she may not be able to use! This is playing out like a line in Alanis Morissette's song "Ironic" ("Good advice that I just can't take...").

Zz.
 
  • #10
DS2C
I respectfully disagree. Math was very difficult for me. I hated it. But I persevered and eventually mastered the math I needed to succeed in Physics, eventually going on to earn a BS in Physics (summa cum laude, LSU), a PhD in Physics (MIT), and serve on the math faculty of the United States Air Force Academy.

Math need not be "easy" to succeed in Physics, just possible.
I love hearing this kind of stuff.
 
  • #11
Meir Achuz
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Dr.Courtney said:
I respectfully disagree. Math was very difficult for me. I hated it. But I persevered and eventually mastered the math I needed to succeed in Physics, eventually going on to earn a BS in Physics (summa cum laude, LSU), a PhD in Physics (MIT), and serve on the math faculty of the United States Air Force Academy.
Math need not be "easy" to succeed in Physics, just possible.

You are to be commended for your success in physics despite early difficulty in math. But one event is not a statistical basis for advice.
As a Freshman Dean some years ago, I made what turned out to be a mistake by encouraging beginning freshmen to stick with physics or engineering. despite early difficulty with mathematics. I then had the difficult task of consoling them, and advising them on what other steps to take, when they had flunked out by the end of the first year. I learned from this, that in fairness to them, I should have discouraged them from continuing in physics or engineering, while knowing that the most determined of them would continue. At least, I would have saved some of them.
I now give that advice to anyone who will heed it
 
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  • #12
DS2C
Dr.Courtney said:
I respectfully disagree. Math was very difficult for me. I hated it. But I persevered and eventually mastered the math I needed to succeed in Physics, eventually going on to earn a BS in Physics (summa cum laude, LSU), a PhD in Physics (MIT), and serve on the math faculty of the United States Air Force Academy.
Math need not be "easy" to succeed in Physics, just possible.

You are to be commended for your success in physics despite early difficulty in math. But one event is not a statistical basis for advice.
As a Freshman Dean some years ago, I made what turned out to be a mistake by encouraging beginning freshmen to stick with physics or engineering. despite early difficulty with mathematics. I then had the difficult task of consoling them, and advising them on what other steps to take, when they had flunked out by the end of the first year. I learned from this, that in fairness to them, I should have discouraged them from continuing in physics or engineering, while knowing that the most determined of them would continue. At least, I would have saved some of them.
I now give that advice to anyone who will heed it
I understand your point, but how could you know how much effort they put into it? Some people think 2 hours a day is a lot wheres it may require 6. I dont think many people realize the actual time it takes to be a successful student, let alone successful in a difficult major.
 
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  • #13
donpacino
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There is a difference between getting bad grades and truly not being able to grasp math.
 
  • #14
Vanadium 50
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@Apple_Mango : how applicable do you think is your advice for someone in the UK educational system?

Good point. Another good point is that he is taking Algebra 1 and he has just started college. One would think that someone would wait until they have already done something before advising others on how to do it.
 
  • #15
StatGuy2000
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There is a difference between getting bad grades and truly not being able to grasp math.

The thing is, how many people in this able are truly unable to grasp math, as opposed to simply being discouraged from studying the subject because of previous negative experiences? People learn different subjects at different paces, but it is my concerted opinion that no human being (short of someone suffering from developmental disabilities) is incapable of learning or grasping mathematics.

After all, no one out there claims that, just because some people take longer to learn how to read than others, that someone is unable to learn how to read. Why is it that so many think math is any different?
 
  • #16
donpacino
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The thing is, how many people in this able are truly unable to grasp math, as opposed to simply being discouraged from studying the subject because of previous negative experiences? People learn different subjects at different paces, but it is my concerted opinion that no human being (short of someone suffering from developmental disabilities) is incapable of learning or grasping mathematics.

After all, no one out there claims that, just because some people take longer to learn how to read than others, that someone is unable to learn how to read. Why is it that so many think math is any different?

Thats very true. I guess what I meant to say was is the op genuinely bad at math (currently), or do they just get bad grades. In my early college days I got poor marks in math/physics courses. That was due to lack of any studying or homework effort on my part. I found it easy, I just didn't put in any work. Once I started actually doing my homework it was enough to get great grades.

On the other hand, some people would put in multiple hours a day into math, and hardly understand what a derivative was. That was most likely due to a mismatch between learning style and teaching/studying style, but still the facts remains they put in the work and still couldn't get it (as much).

Did OP study for 5 hours a day and talk to their teacher about subjects and still not understand it? Or did they look at a problem on the whiteboard, throw their pencil in the air and say this is too hard?
 
  • #17
donpacino
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Note: obviously there is a middle ground between not studying at all and studying for hours on end for each subject
 
  • #18
ZapperZ
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The thing is, how many people in this able are truly unable to grasp math, as opposed to simply being discouraged from studying the subject because of previous negative experiences? People learn different subjects at different paces, but it is my concerted opinion that no human being (short of someone suffering from developmental disabilities) is incapable of learning or grasping mathematics.

After all, no one out there claims that, just because some people take longer to learn how to read than others, that someone is unable to learn how to read. Why is it that so many think math is any different?

But at the same time, one does not have an infinite amount of time to be able to grasp something. And in the academic world, you need to be able to show your mastery of a particular subject within a very few short months.

There are constraints in many aspects of life. It is a question on whether one is able to deliver within such constraints that should also be a factor.

Zz.
 
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