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Physics Physics Career

  1. Yes! Mathematics = Physics!

    9 vote(s)
  2. No! But, he/she will be good on only some parts on physics. Physics is not 100% mathematical.

    48 vote(s)
  1. Feb 19, 2008 #1
    I don't think Mathematics = Physics. Math doesn't use physics, but nature of physics just use some math, but still physics is NOT 100% mathematics.

    I really want to be an computer scientist (and I love mathematics, too), but I have this one bad feeling that physics is the king of mathematics..... but I don't want to become physicist. Anyways, any ideas out there?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2008 #2
    Math and physics are different things. Initially math got developed for physics, and you need math to understand physics, so they are intimately coupled, but they are different.

    If you want to do math but not physics, then go for it.

    Math is the language of physics. Just like someone who knows a English better will be able to write better essays in English. But that doesn't mean someone who knows English better is necessarily a better writer. The person who knows English better has an advantage, but it's definitely not the be-all end-all.

    Same with math/physics. Knowing more math will definitely be good for physics, but it's not guaranteed to make you good at physics.
  4. Feb 19, 2008 #3
    Yeah, you're right. Mathematics is just an language for physics (that's what my physics teacher told me, and my uncle said the similar thing). But, physics is not 100% mathematics -- again, it just uses some mathematical idea to fill it in, and so on. Thanks for sharing your idea!

  5. Feb 19, 2008 #4


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    For me, physics is a specialisation of mathematics. Mathematics is a specialisation of logic.

    Ultimately, maths or physics or computer science as a career will depend mainly on your personality or the money.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2008
  6. Feb 19, 2008 #5
    I'm on my iPod and accidentally voted yes. I meant to vote no though. I think that if you are good at maths you will obviously be able to handle the equations, however being good at maths doesn't mean you understand the principles of the physical phenomenna you are describing.
  7. Feb 19, 2008 #6
    Yeah, I agree with that.

    I took a logic class and was just amazed that the proofs we did were similar to math, except that math deals with... well math, whereas this would work with anything as long as you modeled all the propositions and whatnot correctly.

    And math is always a general case. You can do things in math that aren't even conceivable in the real world. Physics is what happens when you take math and see how much of it happens in our world, so basically it is a special case of math.
  8. Feb 20, 2008 #7


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    However I haven't talked to a physicst who thinks physics is a specialisation of maths. They always say physics is different to maths. It could be that they are just jealous or don't really understand pure maths. Most likely both. Having said that I do admire physicsts who can solve differential equations purely on physical intuitition. Maybe it is a different way of thinking about maths but still everything they do can be framed in proper mathematics.
  9. Feb 20, 2008 #8
    yes physics does use a lot of math but this does not mean that someone good at math is good at physics. i have a professor at the moment who is teaching me some stuff for the physics/science olympiad in korea and she says that physics isnt maths, maths is just what we use to communicate physics results. since maths is SI and language isnt then she said it is easier to communicate with numbers...
    i also think that physics goes beyond trig, calculus etc. these are the formulas and the solutions but they are not the reason. a ball dosnt move because 2+4 has hit it...
    however someone who is good at physics definetely has to be good at maths, just not the other way around
  10. Feb 20, 2008 #9
    All the reasons everyone has mentioned, and I'm sure we've all met counterexamples.
  11. Feb 20, 2008 #10
    everyone has experienced a different example
  12. Feb 20, 2008 #11
    You know, once when I was taking a graduate level differential geometry course (with about 8 other students), there was a high school senior in our class. Apparently this kid had taken calculus 1-4 really early, and had exhausted most of the undergrad math courses at the university, all before getting his diploma. In other words, this guy was a genius when it came to math. So I was very surprised to learn when he said that he was having trouble with the second semester of calculus-based physics. I guess it just goes to show that a strong mathematical background, while a necessary condition for being a good physicist, by no means ensures it.
  13. Feb 20, 2008 #12
    I think this quote sums it up the best.
  14. Feb 20, 2008 #13
    I didn't vote, however, I take issue with the equation Mathematics = Physics. Mathematics uses deductive logic, physics uses inductive. Also, mathematics freely explores the infiinite and the infinitesimal, while physics places limits in both directions.
  15. Feb 20, 2008 #14

  16. Feb 20, 2008 #15
    Are you from Korea?
  17. Feb 20, 2008 #16
    That's because physics also relies on experiments and induction, so it's fundamentally different than math, which relies on concrete proofs.

    However, when taking a mathematical topic such as differential equations, you're not likely to find the universe uses all the various kinds that are possible. i.e. it might limit itself to real solutions for some things, for example. I know that in QM all of our operators are Hermitian, which already limits some of the things that can happen.
  18. Feb 21, 2008 #17
    lol no, im from australia,,,, but i dont know if ur being sarcastic....
    every year there is a international science olympiad, it encompasses chemistry, physics and biol. countrys send teams of students to compete... also schools can send individual teams to compete
  19. Feb 21, 2008 #18


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    For me it's yes because I find physics easier than maths. However there are many maths whizzes who are poor at physics.
  20. Feb 21, 2008 #19
    I'm not trying to be sarcastic; I saw you talking about the science olympiad thing in Korea, so I thought you were from Korea. I'm from Korea, btw
  21. Sep 23, 2008 #20
    A bit off topic, but is diff geometry similar to diff eq? And yeah, we had a high school junior taking quantum mechanics last year...
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