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Physics is a pen on paper subject?

  1. Jan 24, 2008 #1
    I've recently purchased a laptop for my schoolwork, planning to do most of it on the laptop, but have found that the actual constructive work coming out of it is minimal. How do you learn best? Do you learn best writing on a computer or just pen and paper? I find with pen and paper so much more goes in (my head), and I feel as if I am tackling the problem directly, as I can draw quick sketches etc.

    Just interested to know how you guys/gals prefer to work? I find the internet extremely useful especially sites such as this when I want to expand on things that are a bit mote advanced than what we are being taught.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  3. Jan 24, 2008 #2

    EnumaElish

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    [This post applies to math and stat, and not physics per se.]

    Beginnings of a half-formed analytical solution: pen & paper (recycled).

    Solving a well-formed mathematical model: computer (mathematical software).

    Data analysis: computer (statistical software).
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2008
  4. Jan 24, 2008 #3

    Astronuc

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    Thirty years ago, it was almost all paper and pen. Now my work is mostly on computers.

    Most of the data is collected electronically. The analyses using pre-processors, analytical software (complex simulations) and post-processors, are all done electronically.

    Reports are written with text, tables and figures, and I try to print as little as possible.

    I do occasionally scratch stuff on paper, but most of what I do is done on computer.

    I do mostly engineering with some physics.


    With software like LaTeX and equation editors, I prefer to do my work electronically.
     
  5. Jan 24, 2008 #4

    Chi Meson

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    I have learned how to use draw programs well enough so that my computer drawing slook much better than my hand drawings. But when solving simple problems, and needing to make a quick sketch, nothing beats paper and a mechanical pencil.
     
  6. Jan 24, 2008 #5
    I have a tablet pc. I find it most appropriate for disposable scratchings.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2008 #6

    Dr Transport

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    Combination of both pen and paper along with computer. I'm with Astronuc, more and more is electronic when working with the labs, I'll scratch out a sketch of what I want to program then work via codes. My handwriting is gone to crud lately, cannot even read it unless I really, really write slowly and concentrate, but that may be a sign that my mind is racing and I'm trying to get it down before I loose my train of thought.
     
  8. Jan 24, 2008 #7

    Astronuc

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    :rofl: I'm with Dr. T on this. :biggrin:

    I think much faster than I can write - by at least an order of magnitude.


    I also do my best thinking in the shower. :rolleyes: By the time I'm dry, I've forgotten some or most of the details :frown:
     
  9. Jan 24, 2008 #8
    I use an abacus.

    Actually, I have two friends who write up their homework in Word using Math Editor. It definitely looks cleaner, but I can't be bothered to do it. I do it on a piece of paper. It just feels cool to be "old school" like that. Bust out the book, some paper, a pencil, and have at it.
     
  10. Jan 24, 2008 #9

    Kurdt

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    Theres nothing like pen and paper for working out little bits here and there but once they're worked out and its time to report or record your findings a computer is the best option. I still keep files of hand written calculations for later reference along with the neater typed up versions. It helps in tracking down mistakes if they do occur later on.
     
  11. Jan 24, 2008 #10

    robphy

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  12. Jan 24, 2008 #11

    Moonbear

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    PEN and paper?! Crud, I used to make so many mistakes, it was only PENCIL and paper for me, so I could erase cleanly and not get lost in a sea of cross-outs!
     
  13. Jan 24, 2008 #12

    Gokul43201

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    I know a grad student that takes notes in class on his laptop! He LaTeXes at the speed of sound! :bugeye: And this was in a class where I had to let my penmanship go to all hell in order to keep pace with the lecture and give myself a few moments every now and then to think!
     
  14. Jan 25, 2008 #13

    Ben Niehoff

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    I also have a tablet PC (actually, a convertible, screen-flippy type), which I use mainly to do homework. Even though I have Maple installed on the very same PC, I prefer to work out analytical solutions by hand. One can't learn any time-saving tricks if one always lets Maple do everything with CAS...

    My favorite things about using a tablet are:

    1. It's very quick to erase, copy, paste, slide formulas over to add minus signs, add extra space on the page if I screw up and realize that I forgot a step, etc. It's like paper, but with superpowers.

    2. OneNote 2007 has drawing tools like other MS Office programs, and a wide variety of available pen colors, which means I can make clean-looking diagrams very quickly.

    3. Every bit of my homework is stored and easily referenced; I print off a hard copy to turn in, but I always have my soft copy available to read, no matter how long the prof takes to grade the homeworks. It makes it much easier to study for a test, if HWs haven't been handed back yet...and if something gets lost, I can easily print it again!

    4. Way, way more volume than any paper notebook! A whole bookcase-full of notebooks, all on a 4-lb. laptop with a 12'' screen.

    5. Unlike paper, backlit LCD screen is easy to see in darker environments.


    However, these are the things I don't like about using a tablet PC:

    1. It generates way more heat than paper. It gets too hot to hand-hold, so one still needs a desk, table, or other support.

    2. OneNote uses a lot of memory, and the occasional background tasks can sometimes make it crawl. Can be very annoying if I just got some inspiration and was frantically trying to see whether the algebra worked out...

    3. Unlike paper, backlit LCD screen is nigh-impossible to see in bright sunlight. :\


    When I am not using my tablet PC, I prefer good, old-fashioned paper and pencil. Not pen. I was taught never to do mathematics with a pen, because one might have to erase, and to this day I still cringe if I have to use a pen to write any formula...
     
  15. Jan 25, 2008 #14
    If somebody manufactured "bathtub whiteboards" I would buy one too.

    I like to work math analytically as far as I can. When I want to visualize the solution or when things get too tricky I switch to Maple.

    After TAing a first-year physics course I'm convinced that 99% of students with a laptop open during lectures weren't accomplishing any physics.
     
  16. Jan 25, 2008 #15

    Moonbear

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    I can't speak for the physics classes, but having sat in on other people's lectures for other courses (ones I'm going to have to teach soon, so am getting the gist of the content presented this year), I agree that quite a few of the laptops are NOT displaying lecture material. I can't see any way for the students to take notes on a laptop that makes sense to me. They get all the slides provided in advance, so then open up powerpoint and take notes in the notes space...that leaves a big disconnection between the notes and what they are referring to in the slide. A few of the students sitting around me in the back, however, have picked up my "old-fashioned" technique, and not surprisingly, when I walk around the lab, they are the ones most prepared. My technique is to print out handouts of the slides (6/page...I don't need reams of paper, or the fine details since I can see those on the original slides), and then jot any additional notes of things to emphasize, add, change, or that students are told they must know for exams on the handouts. And, when something is pointed out for clarity, I can simply draw a line pointing to it on my handout with a proper label or comment.

    I also find out who is actually attending or paying attention to lecture not only by what is on the laptops when I sit in the back of the room, but by walking around during labs and asking questions that I took directly from the lecture content, and seeing who can answer it and who gives me blank stares or claims they didn't read the chapter ahead of class (not much better of an excuse when it comes to preparedness).

    I assume (hope) that physics lectures have not completely been tossed onto powerpoint slides with everything written out for the students in advance, but still involves demonstrating working through solving problems and deriving equations on a chalkboard or whiteboard.
     
  17. Jan 25, 2008 #16
    I can imagine using a computer for most things is very useful, and probably time saving in some cases. The level I am working at now I find pen and paper nice, as I can make an absolute mess with ideas, scribbles and small models. I usually write up my practical work up on the computer after hand because it look sso much nicer.

    Totally agree, theres nothing better than walking into a lesson, when everyone has their laptops out, and dumping a massive physices book and pad on the desk. Writing for me feels more active that typing, as when I am writing I think about it, but typing is just touching keys.

    I usually write out my notes twice, once in the lesson, where it can be a bit of a blur, and then do a neater version at home it takes quite a bit of time, but I think its is time well spent as you go over things another time.
     
  18. Jan 27, 2008 #17
    I'm such a messy thinker that I've sworn off paper if at all possible for the simple reason that I run out of space all the time. On average, to have a readable semi-presentable piece of work, I would need three drafts made with pencil. Computers aren't much better, even though with a graphics tablet it does become usable. The only thing that saves me is a white board the size of a wall I bought last semester, with the rule of always starting in the middle.
     
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