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Physics is just too hard.

  • Thread starter JJRKnights
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  • #26
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If you're going to get a D for sure, drop the class. A W is infinitely better than a D. If you've spent 100 hours on the class and you still have a D, you're obviously not studying physics effectively. You may as well have spent that 100 hours playing a sport, because almost anyone can memorize the limited number of equations used in mechanics in 100 hours without learning the logic behind them. A true student, however, will learn the logic.
 
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  • #27
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I can't afford to drop it. Financial aid pays for my classes if I drop I'll end up owing a couple hundred dollars.
 
  • #28
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That sucks. I'd rather owe a few hundred bucks than permanently have a failing grade on my record though. The former is is fixable; the latter is not. Maybe you should choose your classes more wisely next term.
 
  • #29
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Well, pursuing an engineering degree is the only reason I went to college. I will not quit, I deserve every grade I get and if I flunk out of college then I'll accept it, but I am following the plan the school has for mech engineering, and if I can't keep up I don't deserve to have the degree.
 
  • #30
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Wow, a lot of superiority complex going on in this thread..
 
  • #31
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Lol, seems that way. I want to be successful, things always hold me back. I've had depression for the past 4 years that comes and goes, but once I realized that physics was just too high level of a class for me, I became depressed again. It's one of the major areas that is required to be an engineer, and that's what i've wanted to be since I was younger. I for the life of me can't understand it. I came here for direct help because I am fed up with failing, can anyone help me out, like give me an example problem, and i'll show methods to the way that I would try to solve it? I just need some kind of interactive help, I'm an interactive learner, and lecture classes with hundreds of kids and 1 professor is pretty bad.
 
  • #32
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Lol, seems that way. I want to be successful, things always hold me back. I've had depression for the past 4 years that comes and goes, but once I realized that physics was just too high level of a class for me, I became depressed again. It's one of the major areas that is required to be an engineer, and that's what i've wanted to be since I was younger. I for the life of me can't understand it. I came here for direct help because I am fed up with failing, can anyone help me out, like give me an example problem, and i'll show methods to the way that I would try to solve it? I just need some kind of interactive help, I'm an interactive learner, and lecture classes with hundreds of kids and 1 professor is pretty bad.
Feel free to post any homework questions that you have problems with. People on this forum are more than happy to help, and they won't straight up give you the answer, they will make sure you find your own way through it. A method that I'm sure will help you is that after you've completed a question with assistance in any form, make note of it, and try it again tomorrow. If the steps don't come naturally to you, use your assistance again, and then make sure you try it again the next day.
 
  • #33
Dembadon
Gold Member
624
89
Good that you didn't drop it.

Actually yes, it is clearly an inference. Fact was about the second part of the statement, which is an observation.
This is merely a case of extrapolation. My assumptions, explicitly stating, were that the behavior of the subject is coherent with the behavior of other beings that constituted my surrounding when I made this observation. This is, however, needless to mention and therefore I didn't.
Very correctly said, correlation does not imply causation.
Remember that this was a guess as I said 'probably'. I, however, didn't impose this to be a truth!
I wasn't as clear as I should've been. I took issue with your use of the word fact, since I can't find a single one in your post.

... since I have found girls mostly not being driven by reason. ...
...Instead they go for emotional attractions. ...
Facts are verifiable by repeatable scientific experiment(s). I assume you haven't run scientific experiments on all of the women with whom you've come into contact. Even if you did, the sample size would be so small as to be meaningless and unhelpful to your position.

Additionally, the scientifically minded person realizes that casual observation often contains various forms of bias and imprecision.
 
  • #34
1,331
45
Lol, seems that way. I want to be successful, things always hold me back. I've had depression for the past 4 years that comes and goes, but once I realized that physics was just too high level of a class for me, I became depressed again. It's one of the major areas that is required to be an engineer, and that's what i've wanted to be since I was younger. I for the life of me can't understand it. I came here for direct help because I am fed up with failing, can anyone help me out, like give me an example problem, and i'll show methods to the way that I would try to solve it? I just need some kind of interactive help, I'm an interactive learner, and lecture classes with hundreds of kids and 1 professor is pretty bad.
If you are good in math, you can do it. My recommendation is simple. Look at the physics formulas, and don't just memorize them. Understand WHY they work and you'll know when they can be applied, AND you'll never forget them. EVERYONE has to get help from time to time.

A simple example is my friend who kept forgetting the formulas for uniform circular motion. I said to him "look, when you take a sharper curve in a car, you feel more pull, right? So your formula has to reflect that, and that's why radius of the circle goes in the denominator. Likewise, more pull for more speed, velocity has to be at the top. (and square velocity, but you get the point)
 
  • #35
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1
All they give is the basic form of the equations. Doesn't tell you anything on how to use them,
This is the part that confuses me. The students that come to me for tutoring say the same thing you just did, and I never know how to respond.

What do you mean by you don't know how to "use" an equation? You plug in all of your knowns, and solve for your unknowns. Or, you can solve for what you want to know in terms of what you do, and then plug in. Either way.

Sometimes, you'll have two unknowns, but two equations you can relate the quantities with.

Equations don't need an instruction manual; every equation is used in exactly same way.

Can you clarify exactly what you mean when you say you don't know how to use an equation? By "how," do you mean "when?" If so, you use an equation when it relates something you don't know to things you do know. First, try to find an equation that has only one thing you don't know and you know everything else. If there isn't one, try to find a pair of equations that relate your unknown to things you do know. Exploit conservation laws if possible to splice equations together.

That's really all it takes to get first the first 3 general physics classes.
 
  • #36
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I didn't read through the whole thread, but if anyone is having trouble in physics, or any science or math in general, that's completely normal. Some people just aren't naturally good at grasping mathematical ideas. Often, these people are completely lost if there's just one little thing missing from their mindset (equations, units, or ideas they've been taught). Like everything in life, you're searching for the unknown. To find the unknown, you're going to need equations, and maybe a little bit of mental experimentation.

I suggest understanding what the equations actually mean before using them. For example, you know that if you traveled 20 miles in 40 minutes, you can use v=d/t. You have an understanding of what v=d/t means. In fact, you won't even have to use the equation to know that your average speed would be 30 MPH. The change in distance for every unit time can be expressed by d divided by t.

It helps me to understand where the equations came from, sometimes the exact proof. I guess I feel more comfortable knowing how the ancient mathematician came to the conclusion he did. They're not mindless equations. There's meaning behind them.

I'm only a senior in high school, but that's my take on it :)

By the way, college sounds like a joke. They're shoving all that stuff at you without giving you room to breathe and discover on your own.
 
  • #37
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By the way, college sounds like a joke. They're shoving all that stuff at you without giving you room to breathe and discover on your own.
That only happens for those who aren't curious and only want to graduate early or party. If you want to learn, you'll find the time to do it in addition to class/homework time.

Well, pursuing an engineering degree is the only reason I went to college. I will not quit, I deserve every grade I get and if I flunk out of college then I'll accept it, but I am following the plan the school has for mech engineering, and if I can't keep up I don't deserve to have the degree.
No offense, but this is stupid. The W is there for a reason. You should use it. Blind masochism won't get you anywhere in life.
 
  • #38
352
2
While there is certainly a degree of innate ability in anything, motivation and interest are equally important. If you are studying as much as you say then you have the motivation factor down. There is likely some sort of systematic flaw in your studying habits. So here is some general advice I can give:

Before you begin, guesstimate an answer. Don't worry about getting super close, just try to think about what would make sense. After solving a problem perform a sanity check. Ask yourself if your numerical answer makes any sense. Did you calculate the mass of a car to be 30 g or 30,000 kg? Those don't make sense. This can lead to problems if your intuition is wrong, however, it will tell you that your intuition is wrong. Hopefully that happens during a HW problem, and you can figure out where your error in reasoning is.

Begin by identifying all the variables given, as well as which are being asked for. This is an art in itself. Many times the value will be stated indirectly. This requires some intuition of what is happening. For example, if the problem asks about an object at its highest point then you know the speed = 0. You should also realize that the speed at the end of it's flight is the same as at the start (with the direction being exactly opposite). It may help to write down every single variable that may be involved with the problem. Then go through them all and ask yourself how you might be able to figure out what that value is.

On homework, start with problem #1 and work your way through the odd problems. Even if the teacher doesn't assign #1 start there. Usually, first problems are very simple and if you struggle with them then you are missing a fundamental understanding. From there they generally do a good job of increasing the complexity of the problems. They also tend to group problems that should be solved similarly together. This helps learning, but annoys me when I want to test myself later. Often identifying the method to use is a significant part of the problem. Therefore, after you are comfortable with the section go back and do problems at random, so that you aren't just repeating the same methods with different numbers.

Utilize the internet. Frankly, I can't imagine trying to work through math/science classes without the internet. The resources available are amazing. This site has excellent HW help forums. Post problems there and provide what work you have tried and people will be more than glad to provide exactly the type of interactive help you want. Also, try just reading other posts in that section. There are a lot of students taking similar classes as you right now, and they are all around the same point in the material. Attempt to work the problems they are posting (if it seems similar to what you are doing), and if you get stuck there is probably already help posted there ready to go.

In addition, the site http://www.cramster.com/" has worked solutions to many popular textbooks. The solutions to odd questions are free (but requires registering).

You mention difficulty in understanding your professor. While I recommend getting used to accents, I also always recommend seeking out alternative explanations of concepts. Sometimes the way different people think about problems just doesn't mesh well. http://www.khanacademy.org/#physics" has taped their lectures and posted them online for free. Watch both of those for any concepts you don't feel you really understand.

Create a cheat sheet in your notes. This is a handy reference of all the formulas, as well as the meanings of the common variables. This will help cut down time looking for formulas while working problems. Also, the act of going through your notes/book and picking out the formulas will help you become familiar with them. Sometimes, a professor will let the class use open notes on a test without announcing it ahead of time. Having all the formulas in one place will be a massive bonus.

While doing HW always attempt to figure out why you got a problem wrong. A wrong answer isn't worthless. It is a learning opportunity. Keep a list of brief explanations of your mistakes. You may start to notice patterns. When you do, you know you need to focus on remembering not to make those mistakes.

This may seem a bit crazy, but attempt to explain these ideas to others. Start a free blog and write posts explaining the concepts you are learning. Don't worry about explaining things wrong, there is plenty of that on the internet already, just put a clear disclaimer that you are explaining these things as a way to help yourself learn. An unpromoted blog will gain virtually no hits, so you shouldn't worry about making a fool of yourself. If you don't want to expose your knowledge level then just do it in a file on your computer, or handwritten down. Regardless actually attempt to present the ideas as if you were teaching someone that didn't know them yet.

Become strong at math. You haven't really mentioned how strong you are in math in general, but many people have a problem learning physics because they are actually trying to learn physics and math at the same time. Being excellent at math won't guarantee you will find physics easy, but being weak at math will guarantee you find physics hard. If you are at the beginning of an engineering degree you have a lot of math ahead. You won't regret getting too good at math.
 
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  • #39
Dembadon
Gold Member
624
89
...

By the way, college sounds like a joke. They're shoving all that stuff at you without giving you room to breathe and discover on your own.
This does not stop after college. When a client or supervisor is having an issue, you don't always have the luxury of breathing room. Get used to it now! :smile:
 
  • #40
43
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...but attempt to explain these ideas to others...
Seconding this. I find that the best way for me to reinforce information is to explain it to someone who knows absolutely nothing about the subject. When I am learning something my prior knowledge sometimes acts as a detriment.. the sheer volume of things that I've stuffed into my head sometimes obscures the obvious solution to a simple problem. Explaining the problem (and my subsequent attempt at a solution) often reveals what I've been missing -- and I don't even have to be explaining it to ANYONE. I often just talk while walking or pace around in my house trying to find the most accurate way to communicate an idea, all while making it more clear in my own mind.

As you get better at this, tutoring becomes an excellent way to study. In Math, for example, I'm not exactly at the top of my class but I do better than most. I meet with different people a few times a week and explain the things that they were either unable or unwilling to learn the first time around. This motivates me to learn these concepts all the more thoroughly (I don't want to look too stupid) and reinforces them as I explain them. Interesting, but the reason is simple. Usually up until that point I only viewed the problem from the perspective of the instructor or the text, but when I'm forced to explain it to someone who knows even less than I do, I rearrange the information in my own head and.. well, make it mine.

I dare say that if you can't explain it, you don't know it.

This ties into what I think might be your problem -- you're not visualizing the problem. It's more than just an equation, these numbers and symbols represent physical things. Until you've developed greater physics intuition (and I know I have a long way to go in this regard) try tying these abstract ideas to local events. Consider what the equation represents, and what that thing actually looks like. Picture it. Give it colors, give it weight and a smell. Hold those particles in your (imaginary) hand.

Take something simple like pressure and volume, picture trying to pump air into a tire of fixed volume. Push on the handle, pump it until you feel resistance. Now keep pumping. You can feel the pressure building, and surely you realize why. Now if you're presented with an equation giving you different values for pressure and volume, and one of those values changes.. plug that into your mental image. If volume goes up, what does pressure do? Bigger tire, same amount of air, less pressure. If volume goes down, smaller tire, same air, greater pressure. Like I said, simple example - but any physical idea can be treated like this one. You just need a mental image of it, even if that image isn't entirely accurate.

And of course do as others have suggested. Work problems. Read the text. GO TO OFFICE HOURS! I cannot stress this enough. Professors are a goldmine of information, and they will help you if you seek them out. Get a tutor. Form a study group. READ. Go to your campus library and check out the Physics/Mathematics/Engineering sections, you're sure to find some good stuff. Use the internet. There is no shortage of .edu homepages out there, do a search. Most professors have websites now, and many of those websites include class notes and even videos.
 

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