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Mental Image

  1. Mar 29, 2010 #1

    When people say you should form a mental image when doing physics, does that mean forming a picture(snapshot)in your head or an actual movie of what's happening in your head?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2010 #2
    I don't think the words "picture" or "movie" really capture the process fully. It's better described as visualization combined with feel/intuition about relationships. Sometimes this takes the form of a picture, sometimes a picture that you can move based on variables/parameters. Sometimes the number of dimensions exceeds the ability to really use a picture (3D) or movie (4D), and it becomes more a matter of feeling and intuition.

    Sometimes the mental intuition comes instantly, and sometimes it takes several days. Often the answer comes in your sleep, and certainly it is a learned skill that improves with experience. However, as with all skills, it comes more easily to some people.

    It's hard to describe, but you know it when you experience it. You really can't consistently solve problems, or understand what is happening, without developing this visualization/intuition technique. It would be like a professional baseball player trying to catch a ball with his eyes closed. He could never make a living with this approach.
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