# Physicists & Engineers

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

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

haha then i think you picked the wrong subject in the wrong forum :D

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
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. Do engineers understand physics rules at all?

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 necessary for current society".

I cannot be more light.

Gold Member
Clausius2 said:
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 necessary for current society".

I cannot be more light.
Have you answered any of my question?

Staff Emeritus
Lisa! said:
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.

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.

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 don't 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

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 won't be successful at building a building without knowledge of engineering techniques, and an engineer won't be successful at deriving a Brownian motion without graduate knowledge of statistical physics. Simply put - each has their respective fields of expertise and shouldn't be confused

Gold Member
cronxeh said:
Simply put - each has their respective fields of expertise and shouldn't be confused

What about an engineer sciencist? There are many of them.

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
Have you answered any of my question?

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

Good try, Lisa, but every us has learned the lesson about don't fight between us (eng. and physicists). We are in peace times.

Gold Member
Clausius2 said:
What about an engineer sciencist? There are many of them.

I do believe an engineering scientist is mostly an applied physicist

Gold Member
ZapperZ said:
I noticed you did not even make a proper citation of tihs "book" that you're reading.

Zz.
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 a lot of differences.
So base on what you said, I wouldn't have any problem to change because there are lots of similarities btw the.

Staff Emeritus
Lisa! said:
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 a lot of differences.
So base on what you said, I wouldn't have any problem to change because there are lots of similarities btw the.

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.

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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"

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Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Lisa! said:
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

A physicists, will publish a ten page paper on why a cicuit does not work, an
engineer will replace the fuse. :rofl:

Gold Member
ZapperZ said:
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.
.

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

Amén.

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.

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Gold Member
dduardo said:
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 the physicists and engineers are alike. The mathematician is black sheep.

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.

Gold Member
ZapperZ said:
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.

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.

Staff Emeritus
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.

*runs back to the biology forum* :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Gold Member
arildno said:
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"
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!

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

*runs back to the biology forum* :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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

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

*runs back to the biology forum* :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
:rofl: How can you build a bigger and better one when you don't know how the smaller one works?
Perhaps physicists set the ball and let engineers to play with it. :tongue2:

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
I was afraid that I would have to memorize and use physics rules without really undersatnding them, and it's impossible for me!

Only really bad engineers do that. I have had to understand them mandatory for surviving in my studies, or at least I have had to do the effort needed for understanding them (cause one not always success in understanding them :tongue2: ).

Gold Member
Clausius2 said:
Only really bad engineers do that. I have had to understand them mandatory for surviving in my studies, or at least I have had to do the effort needed for understanding them (cause one not always success in understanding them :tongue2: ).

What do you think about their personal lives? which one could be more successful in his/her social life?

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Gold Member
Dearly Missed
However, Lisa!:
Because engineers are practically minded people, they will very often encounter situations that are too difficult to analyze completely from a theoretical point of view.
Thus, you will meet empirical formulae that has not been derived from the over-arching theory; rather, they can be regarded as best-fit formulae.

Staff Emeritus
Here's another one:

A physicist and an engineer are in a hot-air balloon. They've been drifting for hours, and have no idea where they are. They see another person in a balloon, and call out to her: "Hey, where are we?" She replies, "You're in a balloon," and drifts off again. The engineer says to the physicist, "That person was obviously a mathematician." The physicist replies, "How do you know that?" "Because what she said was completely true, but utterly useless."

Gold Member
arildno said:
However, Lisa!:
:uhh: :uhh: Why do you recently yell at me?

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Dearly Missed
Lisa! said:
:uhh: :uhh: Why do you recently yell at me?
Lisa? Lisa! Lisa€ Lisa%

Who cares?

Not EVERY Physicist will be ONLY interested in theory, and not EVERY Engineer will NOT undertand what those equations show in the material universe.

I personally think all Physicists, mathematicians, and engineers should just shut up once and for all. They arn't given credit for what they say out of their mouths, except in lectures. Quotes are for gullible people. Do not mistaken this for the misconception that i disrespect them. I don't disrespect them, but Scientists give more credible value to what they want to propose with experiment/equations/etc, NOT words.

Less blah blah, more relevant action i.e. Whatever you heard lisa, is damn irrelevant to whatever will happen in the universe over 10,000 years and therefore, a WASTE of time.

Nomy-the wanderer
That guy has mistaken engineers for kick-boxers I'm afraid!

Gold Member
I personally think all Physicists, mathematicians, and engineers should just shut up once and for all. They arn't given credit for what they say out of their mouths, except in lectures. Quotes are for gullible people. Do not mistaken this for the misconception that i disrespect them. I don't disrespect them, but Scientists give more credible value to what they want to propose with experiment/equations/etc, NOT words.
.

What the hell are you saying? I don't understand your point. Moreover, I am very bad at writting in english, but you seem worse, which is very difficult. Are you saying engineers/physicists/mathematicians only employ words? Please clarify

Mentor
Hmmm... I suppose I should post in this thread.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
russ_watters said:
Hmmm... I suppose I should post in this thread.
I see yomamma slipped silly pills into your drink too. :rofl:

Staff Emeritus
Much of engineering is applied physics - many (don't know how much) include some basic physics courses.

In nuclear engineering, more advanced physics courses are encouraged, especially if one is doing a subject like fusion, which requires some knowledge of plasma physics.

I did both physics and nuclear engineering.

Gold Member
What about Lis@, Li$a, Li$@ or L!$@, @rildn0? Lisa Astronuc said: Much of engineering is applied physics - many (don't know how much) include some basic physics courses. In nuclear engineering, more advanced physics courses are encouraged, especially if one is doing a subject like fusion, which requires some knowledge of plasma physics. I did both physics and nuclear engineering. Does it require quantom mechanic? Last edited: Gold Member how about:└!$@!

I see yomamma slipped silly pills into your drink too.
that guy over there with the black suit, singlasses and CIA badge told me to do it...