Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physicists & Engineers

  1. Aug 13, 2005 #1

    Lisa!

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You know I was reading a book, it was about a scintist. And his comments about engineers and physicists made me to start this thread. For example he believed people who couldn't think deeply and alot, must study engineering. He believed engineers work with their fingers more than by their mind and stuff like that.


    What are the differences btw them?I mean do they have diferent views about every subject and which one needs to understand math better than another. Which one of them has to think more and consecuencely, has to use his/her brain more? Do engineers understand physics rules at all?

    PS As I mentioned before, I'm tired of "X vs. Y" . So please do not start fighting here and just answer my questions.

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2005 #2

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    haha then i think you picked the wrong subject in the wrong forum :D
     
  4. Aug 13, 2005 #3

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    WHAT?????

    At least that guy is not right as far as I am concerned.

    In order to no start here the usual fight (I had one sometime ago with Marlon because of this stuff), I would say:

    "It depends on which physicist and which engineer are you looking at. There are really dumb people in both fields. But both fields are inte-rdependant and neccessary for current society".

    I cannot be more light. :wink:
     
  5. Aug 13, 2005 #4

    Lisa!

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Have you answered any of my question? :wink:
     
  6. Aug 13, 2005 #5

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I noticed you did not even make a proper citation of tihs "book" that you're reading.

    This person made the worst characterization of engineers and physicists (he obviously doesn't realize experimentalists exist). And he really should read Bob Laughlin's Nobel Prize autobio where he clearly is a "tinkerer" and works with his fingers - and he ended up being a theorist!

    There are difference between engineers and physicists, but there are also A LOT of similarities, more than there are differences. Anyone bold enough to write a book claiming to have a definitive knowledge that these two groups are different should be looked at with nothing but skepticism.

    Zz.
     
  7. Aug 13, 2005 #6

    cronxeh

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Engineers are more philosophical in its approach towards their projects. There is always a question of delicate balance between cost and efficiency and physicists just dont worry about those things. An engineer always has a broad spectre of knowledge from many areas, and not so much in-depth in a certain area as compared to a scientist. Whereas a scientist will be much more in-depth in a particular area of specialty, and often times may not be aware of other sciences as much. An example is a common misconception among physicists that biology is somehow less harder than physics :rolleyes:

    For an engineer the precision is not always an issue. There are always safety factors of 3, 4 or 5-6 when a structural engineer is making calculations. This comes full circle back to cost vs efficiency issue, and in essence an engineering is broadly experience based profession. The more you have the better you are.

    A physicist on the other hand is not always about experience - unless it is an experimental physicist. In such a case you are borderline an engineer. A theoretical physicist is more into abstract math, complex formulas, etc.

    The differences? Well a physicist wont be successful at building a building without knowledge of engineering techniques, and an engineer wont be successful at deriving a Brownian motion without graduate knowledge of statistical physics. Simply put - each has their respective fields of expertise and shouldnt be confused
     
  8. Aug 13, 2005 #7

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What about an engineer sciencist? There are many of them.
     
  9. Aug 13, 2005 #8

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I didn't even try to answer you. I was defending myself.

    Zz has answered you indeed.

    Good try, Lisa, but every us has learned the lesson about don't fight between us (eng. and physicists). We are in peace times. :biggrin:
     
  10. Aug 13, 2005 #9

    cronxeh

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I do believe an engineering scientist is mostly an applied physicist
     
  11. Aug 13, 2005 #10

    Lisa!

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Sorry, but this book wasn't in En. You know I studied physics but now I prefer to study engineering and I really want to know the answer of my questions. I study Electromagnetism which was written by an engineer and another book which was written by a physicist. Both of them were trying to explain the same principles , but I noticed alot of differences.
    So base on what you said, I wouldn't have any problem to change because there are lots of similarities btw the.
     
  12. Aug 13, 2005 #11

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Both groups may have different specific interests and passion, but these differences are really, in all honesty, highly superficial! I can show you an experimentalist who has the same "tinkering" ability as any engineer, and I can show you an enginner with the same power of analytical ability as any theoretical physicist. We just focus our efforts in slightly different areas of physical science.

    Why this should be an issue, I do not know.

    Zz.
     
  13. Aug 13, 2005 #12

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Lisa!
    There certainly are physics STUDENTS who go through their studies believing themselves intellectually superior to those dumb engineering folks.
    However, those students good enough to end up as professional physicists become well aware of that engineering is NOT physics for dummies, and is at least as intellectually challenging a profession than their own.
    Besides, as ZapperZ has emphasized, there is so much overlap that switching of careers, for example, does happen, and isn't too uncommon. It is more a question of which parts of reality that are studied in the different disciplines, rather than that the physicists studies the same stuff as the engineers, but more "deeply"
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2005
  14. Aug 13, 2005 #13

    wolram

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A physicists, will publish a ten page paper on why a cicuit does not work, an
    engineer will replace the fuse. :rofl:
     
  15. Aug 13, 2005 #14

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    Although I usually don't get too much relationated with Zz, I must say he has hit the head of the nail here :approve: . His words have been very accurated. It is true both things exist, and all people must know it.

    Amén.
     
  16. Aug 13, 2005 #15

    dduardo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus

    The Hotel Fire

    An engineer, a mathematician, and a physicist are staying for the night in a hotel. A small fire breaks out in each room.

    The physicist awakes, sees the fire, makes some careful observations, and on the back of the hotel's wine list does some quick calculations. Grabbing the fire extinguisher, he puts out the fire with one, short, well placed burst, and then crawls back into bed and goes back to sleep.

    The engineer awakes, sees the fire, makes some careful observations, and on the back of the hotel's room service list (pizza menu) does some quick calculations. Grabbing the fire extinguisher (and adding a factor of safety of 5), he puts out the fire by hosing down the entire room several times over, and then crawls into his soggy bed and goes back to sleep.

    The mathematician awakes, sees the fire, makes some careful observations, and on a blackboard installed in the room, does some quick calculations. Jubliant, he exclaims "A solution exists!", and crawls into his dry bed and goes back to sleep.

    -------------

    As you can see physicists and engineers are alike. The mathematicians are the black sheeps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2005
  17. Aug 13, 2005 #16

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Great! Excellent. :rofl:

    As another kind of engineer, I would taken advantage of having the fire too near for testing the current theories about asymptotic methods in combustion theory released in the last number of Combustion Science. Then I would go to sleep, because hotel owner prefers his hotel burnt because he will be paid by the assurance agency. :biggrin:
     
  18. Aug 13, 2005 #17

    Lisa!

    User Avatar
    Gold Member


    Generalization is dangerous most of time, and that's why I'm asking these questions because I really want to know. Please don't take me wrong. I had some professors who had BS in engineering and PhD in physics and they usually weren't able to answer students' questions when they ask them to explain it from a physicist view and use less math equations. So I had bad impression of people who change their area.
     
  19. Aug 13, 2005 #18

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The physicist tries to understand why something works, and the engineer tries to figure out how to build a bigger and better one. :biggrin:

    *runs back to the biology forum* :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
  20. Aug 13, 2005 #19

    Lisa!

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Unfortunately you're right ,but I didn't think like that at all. You know I thought I would have lots of problems if I ever want to study but it seems that I wouldn't. You know it's too difficult to explain and I'm too lazy to do it.
    I was afraid that I would have to memorize and use physics rules without really undersatnding them, and it's impossible for me! :smile:
     
  21. Aug 13, 2005 #20

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    And the biologist comes back, crying because she has ruined her precious intstrument by not having read the instructions for how to use it properly..

    Runs and hides behind a gobelin
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Physicists & Engineers
  1. Life of a physicist. (Replies: 5)

  2. As a physicist (Replies: 5)

Loading...