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Physics when I have done Mathematics

  1. Sep 6, 2007 #1
    I currently hold a bachelors in mathematics (statistics) and am looking to study for a second degree. I loved mathematics and physics in high school, but university mathematics was not quite what I expected e.g. real analysis, which did not mean much to me. Statistics, while appealing to me when studying probability, began to be loaded with formulae and stuff which aren't quite explained or accounted for, in addition to making me feel it's somewhat fuzzy.

    I'm not sure how I could know whether I would like physics in university. I'm also considering mechanical engineering and economics/ geography.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2007 #2

    chroot

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    So what you're saying is that one of the foundations of mathematics (analysis) was boring to you, and that you didn't like statistics once it began to involve actual math. It sounds to me like you just don't like math at all, so physics would probably not be a wise choice.

    - Warren
     
  4. Sep 6, 2007 #3
    Hmm, though I think it might have been because my foundations in math was not properly laid, as in I seldom keep in mind all those manipulations and equations in trigo, etc., (since analysis involve them, and more), and end up not being able to solve some analysis problems.

    Does Physics involve a lot of math too? I didn't like statistics because I felt it was somewhat fuzzy, it could also have been because we were forced to memorise formulae and it repelled me.
     
  5. Sep 6, 2007 #4

    chroot

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    Physics is very "fuzzy" in the sense that it's all made up, with the only intention that it correctly predicts the outcomes of experiences. There's very little rigor in the physics community, as compared to the math community.

    And yes, all physical theories are cast in mathematics. You won't need to concern yourself with proving fundamental mathematical conclusions, but you will certainly need to use math every single day.

    - Warren
     
  6. Sep 6, 2007 #5
    I don't really consider myself to really hate math, I guess I just liked to get to the really bottom of things. For example, in some of my math courses, when they have this in their proof: "out of scope of the course", it really annoyed me.

    Physics doesn't have proofs like in math?
     
  7. Sep 6, 2007 #6

    chroot

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    Physics just uses mathematics as a tool; the proofs that the tools are well-formed and self-consistent are left to the mathematicians. In fact, many mathematicians are put off by the lack of mathematical rigor in physics.

    - Warren
     
  8. Sep 6, 2007 #7

    Pythagorean

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    I would say no, not "proofs" the way you see them in math, but you still get asked to "show" things mathematically a lot. There's a lot more basic algebra and calculus involved.

    What I like about physics is you get more of a conceptual/philosophical idea of the math. Like speed being the time-derivative of position, and acceleration being the derivative of speed; once you see these in physical terms, they become a lot me intuitive (to me, anyway)
     
  9. Sep 6, 2007 #8
    Mathematics is considered the "language" of physics. Physics uses mathematics as a tool for understanding and gaining insight into physical phenomena and is used to illustrate and describe physical experiments, and theoretical models of reality. Unless you actively pursue the underlying fundamental structure, from which this "language" emerges out of, (i.e. learn the pure mathematics which constructs this language), you will be doing a lot of "fuzzy" maths. While physics uses a lot of math, it is not exactly mathematics itself.

    You also have to consider the difference between theoretical physics, and experimental physics, when deciding how much mathematics are involved, and how pure the maths are that you are interacting with.

    You should read about the different fields current in physics research, and find out how much math, and what kind of different maths are used.

    You will be doing a lot of math though.
     
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