Is Self-Study Outside Academia Hindering My Progress in Physics?

In summary, I am an outsider to the physics community, I have lost my job and my source of income, and I am struggling to learn modern physics on my own while simultaneously trying to pursue my own original research. I am frustrated, and depressed because I am not able to make any real progress despite my best efforts.
  • #1
thefurlong
3
1
I hope this is right place to post this. I just wanted to get this off of my chest. I am frustrated, and depressed because I am an outsider to the physics community. I am posting this with the hope that somebody else might be able to add perspective to my situation. I apologize if that's vague.

Allow me to tell you a little about myself. I have taken about 3 years worth of formal physics classes. At the end of my third year, I lost the job I was in, and hence my source of income for paying for schooling, and then ended up getting a new job which required me to table my schooling for the time being.

Since then, I have taken to studying physics on my own, but as almost anyone who has attempted self-study outside of academia can attest, it is slow going. My job, and my daily obligations constantly get in the way of my ability to progress. Since leaving school, I have familiarized myself with more advanced topics in classical EM, finding this site to be instrumental in my understanding. In addition to this, I have been slowly learning GR, and the current book I am reading (slowly) is Rindler's Relativity. I wish I could say that I have gotten far, but alas, I am only at the discussion of Static and Stationary Spacetimes (though I have found Index notation and the Levi-Civita tensor to be extremely useful in my other studies).

Another source of interference with learning GR is my own independent research. You see, I have gotten this idea in my head that I now know enough about Classical Electrodynamics and Modern Physics to be able to do original research. Last December, I stumbled into several, enticing discoveries in this subject, which resulting in me pretty much dropping everything else to focus solely on working out their implications. It has gotten to the point where I can actually construct mathematically consistent candidate theories based on my core ideas.

Now, I understand that this might be a foolish thing to do, as I am nowhere near an expert on modern physics. Nonetheless, I can't argue with what I have found, and, moreover, I can't seem to stop myself from thinking about them.

As an example of this, I was reading a QM book when I encountered the formula for work done on a magnetic dipole moment. I had known about this equation before, but reading this book brought it to the forefront of my mind, in which I immediately recognized that an anomalous equation I had been dealing with looked almost exactly like it, which made me consider that it might indicate the presence of a magnetic dipole. I immediately halted reading this book, and set to work on possible implications.

Since making those discoveries, the rate of new ideas/discoveries has stubbornly not subsided, despite my attempts at rigorously trying to break them. Indeed, just last weekend, I found that the Lorentz factor emerges in a novel way that I hypothesized would happen. (The reasoning was roughly, my idea X leads to equation Y. However, equation Y should be consistent with SR, hence, the Lorentz factor must naturally fall out from it, though maybe not in an obvious manner. I have not used any postulates from SR in my reasoning. This is also not the first time that I have theoretically confirmed an original hypothesis). I would like to note that despite that I haven't made much progress in truly understanding modern physics, I have learned several useful mathematical/physical techniques in exploring my own ideas.

On the other hand, the 800 lb gorilla in my room is that I don't even employ modern methods. I never use Lagrangians or Noether's Theorem, know next to nothing about Representation Theory, and 2nd quantization, and have not yet gotten the hang of Ricci Calculus. There are tremendous holes in my education, and yet, no matter how hard I try to defer my ideas, they distract me, constantly inviting me to work out more implications.

I fear that I am stuck in a quagmire. I am in an unfortunate place where I am not around people who understand enough of physics to competently assess my ideas. All anyone I know ever does, when I talk about my work, is vacantly nod their head and utter the same old tired variants of "You're a genius" or "That went way over my head." Even when I break it down for them, and put it in as simple, accessible terms as possible, I get the same reaction. It's like their brains preemptively decide that whatever I have to say will not make sense to them because it's "physics."

Because of this I have pretty much given up on talking about my ideas. I don't want people to call me a genius. I want to share what I have found with the world and get a reaction.

On the other hand, I can be quite intense while talking about physics, and so, in the rare occasion that I do meet someone proficient enough to sort of assess the gist of my ideas, I feel that I scare them off, probably because I have been holding my ideas in for so long. Conversely, I feel like my ideas are mature enough, at least in a knowledge vacuum, to be published, and so I foolishly worry that someone smarter than me will scoop them and work out the implications before I do, if I talk about them in too much depth. I am personally acquainted with people with professional backgrounds, but I fear that they will dismiss my ideas not on their actual flaws, but on the fact that the some of them superficially resemble outmoded or unfashionable ideas. (I am aware of and accept the reasons these unfashionable ideas have been rejected.)

Anyway, I will leave this post at this point. I apologize for the length. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
 
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  • #2
I'm sorry, but you need to gt back in touch with reality.

You have studied physics formally at the university for a while, so your ideas will likely not contain any glaring errors. But as any researcher knows, it is very very easy to make errors. You cannot trust your own research in the way that you do. You need somebody else to criticize your ideas.

Second, you've done classical EM and modern physics and you feel qualified to do original research in GR? Really? You know how much knowledge somebody actually needs in order to do actual research?

I'm 99% sure that your research is either flawed, or well-known among experts. I'm very sorry to say this, and I hope you won't be defensive about this.
 
  • #3
I agree with Micromass, and your post is really a blog post, but we no longer host blogs. You're not asking for academic or career guidance, so this thread is closed.
 

Related to Is Self-Study Outside Academia Hindering My Progress in Physics?

1. What is Academia Outsider Depression?

Academia Outsider Depression is a term used to describe the feelings of isolation, imposter syndrome, and lack of support experienced by individuals working in academia who feel disconnected from their colleagues and the academic community.

2. What are some common causes of Academia Outsider Depression?

Some common causes of Academia Outsider Depression may include feeling like an outsider due to race, gender, sexuality, or nationality, lack of support from colleagues and superiors, and the pressure to constantly produce research and secure funding.

3. How can Academia Outsider Depression impact an individual's mental health?

Academia Outsider Depression can lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, and burnout. It may also contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders.

4. What are some ways to cope with Academia Outsider Depression?

Some strategies for coping with Academia Outsider Depression include seeking support from colleagues and mentors, joining support groups or professional organizations, practicing self-care and setting boundaries, and seeking therapy or counseling.

5. What can academic institutions do to address Academia Outsider Depression?

Academic institutions can take steps to address Academia Outsider Depression by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, providing support and resources for mental health and wellness, and creating a sense of community and belonging within the academic community.

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