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Loves Physics, Trouble with Math

  1. Aug 12, 2017 #1
    Yeah, I'm one of those guys. I've learned over the years that I have a natural intuition for physics. I work with engineers daily and was able to convey a particularly complex issue to another person in a way that finally made sense to them. I can look at how things are working, or materials in use and have a pretty good idea of how and why they act on eachother the way they do, or what the outcome of that interaction will be. With that said, I'm sometimes surprised and I enjoy going back and trying to figure out where the gaps in my understanding are; sometimes (often) they are embarrassingly obvious in retrospect.

    My math skills are weaker than I'd care for; I suspect much of this is due to the way math is taught. I'm a macro to nano learner; show me the global picture first and then drill down to specific operations. I have never liked 'just do it this way because'; if there's no tangible application or affect it is difficult for me to cement the concept. My most vexing question in math classes was 'why'. If I could keep from asking that question I invariably did better on tests, but until a higher math class came along I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. It was troubling. I deeply envied the folks who could just blindly memorize without the need to contextualize, though I tended to pity them when they were unable to apply their memorized formulas into an actual application or an abstract thought.

    So, here I am. A guy who's too old to be changing careers (probably) and finally reaching out to learn more about what is probably my favorite subject. I hope everyone will bear with me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF. It sounds like you will find lots of great information here in your quest! :smile:
  4. Aug 24, 2017 #3
    I graduated maths/comp in '92, but always loved astronomy. Started my physics/astronomy degree course last year (which is why I'm here). I will be over 60 when I graduate. One guy there was 74. Never to old to learn. But anyway, maths - not sure you can start with the global picture; not sure there even is a global picture? Start with the basic building blocks and see where that goes. You don't need to blindly remember everything (in fact that's a very bad idea), you can derive it all, if you need to. Memory is just a lot quicker.
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