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Personal fable and reality

Have you always thought you will achieve GREATNESS?

  • YES, all the time. I will unite all physics theories!

    Votes: 15 30.0%
  • Not really. I know I will never be the next Einstein.

    Votes: 17 34.0%
  • Don't care.

    Votes: 18 36.0%

  • Total voters
    50
682
1

Main Question or Discussion Point

"personal fable" and reality

there comes a point in life where one begins to think about life in a very serious way...

and this is exactly what is happening in my mind.

I have always wanted to do something great in my life. Amazed by many concepts and ingenuity in physics... I've decided that I wanted to be a physicist. Not just a physicist, but a GREAT physicist.

I always have a feeling that someday, I will make great discovery in the world of knowledge. I feel that I will the next noble prize winner someday....

However, I realize that the reality isn't that simple. Statistically speaking, there just can't be that many great people. My belief may simply be one of those adolescent psychology phenomenons. Yet, I still tend to believe in myself....

I need to understand the reality... how many people have always believed that one day, he/she will be the next Einstein or the next Euler? If you had had such thoughts, did you achieve your expectations and how does the thoughts change over time (as one gets older)?
 
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Answers and Replies

1,117
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"You are all unique, you are all individuals!"
"WE ARE ALL UNIQUE, WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!!"
"I'm not."

By all means, believe in yourself... but don't get delusional about it. Your goal should be to make a real contribution, and believe me, that's rare enough.
 
61
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5 years ago I thought I was going to be the next Einstein...

Now I've let go of my delusions, reality set in at some point :tongue: I'll be great at what I do, but highly doubt I'll achieve greatness in the respect you're talking about.
 
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
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Whenever I read a post or thread like this, I cringe.

Here are some facts for you to deal with:

1. It takes, on average, 4 years of undergraduate education and 5 1/2 years of graduate education for a person in the US to receive a Ph.D in physics

2. It takes an average of an addition 3 years of postdoctoral experience for a Ph.D to land a permanent job in academia/research line.

The point in all of this is that physics is a difficult area of study. In fact, it is too difficult for someone to do it for the wrong reason. You will get discourage very easily if you think you can do it for the "fame and glory". Most of us in this field are willing to go through the long and laborious process because we simply can't see ourselves doing anything else. We feel so connected to the subject area that we're willing to sacrifice huge chunks of our lives to pursue that. Adding to that is the fact that one doesn't get a paycheck that is commensurate with the amount of effort one has put in to get there. You'd make a lot more money, on average, being an engineer or other areas of study.

Again, if you do physics for the wrong reason, you'll get discouraged very easily. It is that difficult.

Zz.
 
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J77
1,070
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Agree with Zz.

Not to put the OP off their ambition but sometimes on threads like this - a like thread could be the mathematician's knowledge one on general math - I'd like to know the experience (age, education level, job etc.) of the poster.
 
48
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You don't have to be the next Einstein to be great. Having the courage and determination to pursue and complete an education in a difficult field like physics, mathematics, engineering, etc., is a GREAT achievement in-and-of itself. Those who have done so have nothing but my highest respect.
 
Competition ....

There's always competition for that...
There will be always be a person more powerful than you...
and you get inferior for that...
and will lead you to discouragement...
and you will have no reason to live...
...
that person will always put you down....

Based on experience...
Got a mate who is about 5 times more diligent than me... and im still tryin to supass him with hardwork

And thats what you need ... competition... i know it sucks
 
acm
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Do it, then we will listen.
 
512
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tim_lou,

What level are you at right now in your physics education?
 
682
1
I am a first year undergrad...

This post has nothing to do with whether or not I am sucessful, or whether I am discouraged. I simply want to know if my thinkings are common or not... and the reality behind what a person like me will ultimately become.

Either way, I will still love physics, I will still pursue a career goal as a physicist... I understand that one does not do physics for fame or glory, in fact I believe the primariy motivation behind physics is understanding the world. It just seems that there may be certain psychological changes occuring in my mind... and I want to see if others have the same experience.
 
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after watching the American Idol (yeah yeah yeah, I watch it... It's not like a nerd can't watch american Idol)... I seem to realize that the American culture encourages this kind of thinking (thinking about how one can and will achieve greatness)...

just look at the huge number of people who believe they will be the next American Idol and got criticized and ridiculed....
 
512
0
I am a first year undergrad...

This post has nothing to do with whether or not I am sucessful, or whether I am discouraged. I simply want to know if my thinkings are common or not... and the reality behind what a person like me will ultimately become.
I'm sure thoughts like that are VERY common. However, they usually come from people who haven't even finished their undergraduate work yet.

That being said, I wish you luck.
 
J77
1,070
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just look at the huge number of people who believe they will be the next American Idol and got criticized and ridiculed....
...but that "greatness" generally lasts for one week - then they fade into mediocrity, or at least they do on the UK show :biggrin:
 
61
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eh, when you're in high school and at the top of your math classes and whatnot, it's easy to think that you're the next big thing

Once you get into university though, you find out that there are a lot of people just as smart and determined as you, school becomes a lot more challenging, and that's kind of a wake up call.
 
I shall one day describe the (macro/micro) cosmic, physical reality that we experience using only a single elegant equation -- how is that for ambition?

Here is the kicker:

My maths level is only officially up to Trigonometry since I didn't take Calculus in highschool (and my college doesn't offer you a chance to test out of trig), although, I am unofficially working through calculus on my own (which am I developing a sharp intuition for, I believe).
 
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Moonbear
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There's a difference between high aspirations and fantasy. It can be fun to fantasize that someday you'll make the greatest discovery ever made and be rich and famous and maybe you'll even win the lottery and get to live in Disney World...*cough* :uhh: I digress. But, don't hang your sense of achievement, or motivation to choose your given field on it. Even those who have made major contributions to scientific understanding (i.e., something worthy of a Nobel prize) have had many, many, many failures along the way as well. Being able to pick yourself up from your failures and keep moving forward is what distinguishes someone who will be successful in research from someone who will burn out and change fields. If it still seems really easy, like you're just coasting along and know more than everyone else, you haven't learned enough yet to see where the challenges are....give it time...you'll meet them eventually, and then you'll understand what others here are saying.
 
I look forward to reaching the level where you are no longer working through problems that have been solved and rigorously proved and instead, are faced with problems in which the entire community can't even begin to figure out how to properly approach the problem, let alone solve it.
 
JasonRox
Homework Helper
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I look forward to reaching the level where you are no longer working through problems that have been solved and rigorously proved and instead, are faced with problems in which the entire community can't even begin to figure out how to properly approach the problem, let alone solve it.
Sorry, but that day won't come. Even for the most gifted person on Earth.
 
533
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:rofl: I've always loved physics but in Juinor high I qas convinced that I was the next einstein and that I would get the nobel prize for discovering perpetual motion and unifying gravity as the fifth dimension:rofl:

Looking back on my mr high days, its a wonder I even got through anything. Theres always that kind of bigheaded arrogance at some time. I WAS the next einstein in my mind

now i'm more down to earth. As long as I get something done, I'll be happy
 
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1,058
6
I'm sure most of us have been delusional in this sense at some point. I believe I was, but can't quite remember when. However, now I can say that I would definitely not want to be such a person. Spending your entire life, 24-7, on one subject would probably bore the hell out of me. Personally I think there are more things in life than Physics, or Math, or [insert topic of interest].

And do you really want to marry your cousin? :tongue2:
 
61
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I went through the ego issue during undergrad. Aced high school, thought I was a genius...Got to uni with the ego roaming wild. Took me about 18 months to realise I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. That lasted till the end of 4th year.

A year of soul searching before starting the PhD made me realise that there was always going to be someone smarter than me out there, and that I've now come to terms with that. That was a life changing moment for me actually :smile: I don't HAVE to be the smartest person in the world (or even in the room).
 
57
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well yes, tim_liu did mention Einstein and Nobel Prize, and that might tick some people off, but I don't think it's "bad" for a kid playing basketball in a neighborhood park to dream of becoming Micheal Jordan someday...
Obviously, many of us were inspired by dreams like that when we didn't know much physics. Isn't that right?
I don't think he really meant fame or money by Einstein and Nobel Prize. Any college kid would know those are not the best way to achieve any of those. Not even close. Just aim as high as your imaginations allow, and adjust it as you deal with the reality.
 
533
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I am the next Feynman :rolleyes:

Everybody in science has that one time period when they beleive they have the ultimate understanding of the universe and will be the next einstein. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that people good at science are rare and being a 'science nerd' has a stigma.

In a way, opening your eyes to science gets you on an 'intellectual high' and you believe you have 'mental superpowers as a thinker' :rolleyes: and then you get a hangover and regret your stupidity, but that little ego boost kinda pushes you in the right direction of 'what am i going to dedicate my life to'

I thought i would get a nobel prize when I was 12 for the two perp. motion ideas i attached
 

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The belief that there is always someone smarter than you is wrong...only because there is a finite amount of people on the Earth.

I honestly believe i will be great, I will have finished my undergrad in a couple of months and from day one was the best in everything i've put my mind to. I don't see that changing, so tim if you think you can do it, there is nothing stopping you.
 
Sarcasm doesn't translate well through the internet. The text distorts the intonation of my posts.
 

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