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Physics and Its Mathematics

  1. Jun 30, 2005 #1
    I have a true interest in physics, but I feel that I am not exceptional at mathematics. Not saying I'm exceptionally bad either, I do take the Physics 1 and Math 1 classes at my school (even though that doesn't say much, IMHO) and made it out with a 90+. I just always get the feeling you need to be the greatest to "accomplish" something in Physics. Anyone else with me?

    I guess what I'm asking is can someone who isn't exceptionial at math survive a physics degree?
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2005 #2


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    can someone who doesn't know how to cook, learn how?

    can someone who does not know how to play pool, learn?

    etc etc...

    you can do it. as the great engineer sylvanus p thompson put it so delicately, in calculus made easy: "what one fool can do, another can".
  4. Jun 30, 2005 #3
    Yeah, after I posted I was thinking a bit and decided I don't care. I like physics and I'm going to become a physicist! :cool:

    Thanks for your support :smile:
  5. Jul 1, 2005 #4


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    Feynman liked to repeat this too. :approve:
  6. Jul 1, 2005 #5


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    so THATS where feynman learned his calculus!
  7. Jul 1, 2005 #6


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    :smile: And "Calculus for the Practical Man". IIRC, when he checked the book out from the library, he told the librarian it was for his older sister, becuase the librarian either asked him about it or gave him a funny look as if he was too young to be reading the book.
  8. Jul 1, 2005 #7


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    Good for you!

    I suppose I share your sentiments, I've always been able to do maths, but never with any particular excellence or flair. I just see it as a tool, which can help me find the answers I need to make something cool. :smile:
  9. Jul 1, 2005 #8
    PHYSICS programming...you don't need to create the math you just need ot understand how to use it.
  10. Jul 2, 2005 #9
    Generally, in undergraduate physics, it's better to learn a little mathematics (like multivariable/vector calculus, matrix theory, ODEs and complex calculus) very well than it is to learn a lot of fancy stuff in a shallow and half-baked manner.

    As with things like programming, speaking a foreign language and cooking, you only get better with more practice. So, start calculating away!
  11. Jul 2, 2005 #10
  12. Jul 2, 2005 #11


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    and if you have to pick one, probably vector calculus is it.
  13. Jul 2, 2005 #12
    I'm surprised no one mentioned linear algebra, you need that to really understand most of the stuff, epecially in vector calculus. Otherwise, the rest of the math becomes too computational, and not too focused on the concept.
  14. Jul 2, 2005 #13
    Einstein wasnt so good at math that the mathematical basis of his relativity relies on the works of some other gr8 mathematician, most notably Riemann!
    But if you math sucks, try to improve it the the average level! Don't you know that physics and math have the same origin? Klassical physicists are mathematicians as well, like Newton, Laplace, Fourier,....
  15. Jul 3, 2005 #14
    As an undergrad, I'd say the important subjects are Linear Algebra (it's more than just matrices! I recommend the Friedberg, Insel and Spense "Linear Algebra" not "Intro. to Linear Algebra" by the same guys), vector calculus, and all the prereqs to that, and differential equations. Oh with the differential equations! If you have time and are interested in theory, I personally would recommend a course on Complex Analysis, and maybe some Real Analysis to get a solid grounding on some important concepts (for instance, the issue of phase transitions can be thought of in some cases as being a question of uniform versus regular convergence of a sequence).

    Welcome to the fold, dear friend.
  16. Jul 4, 2005 #15
    Thanks for all your advice.
  17. Aug 1, 2005 #16
    im gunna be a real physicist too!!!
    an i don't care if im not so good at maths as well, although everyone i kno seems to disagree, i don't understand people, i get so stressed with maths and theres everyone thinking im pretty amazing. :frown: (confused)
    i think physicist are probably the coolest, cause all the physics teachers in my school are.
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