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[POLL] When Did You Find Your Passion?

  1. Early Childhood

    18 vote(s)
  2. High School

    22 vote(s)
  3. Undergrad Years

    13 vote(s)
  4. Grad School

    3 vote(s)
  5. After Joining Workforce

    5 vote(s)
  1. May 15, 2008 #1
    At what point did you realize "wow this is what I wanna do for a long time!" Was it in high school? Perhaps it happened during your undergrad years, grad school, or maybe once you were out in the workforce? Share your experience. Feel free to tell us what motivated you and how it happened. Thanks.

    Jordan Joab.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2008 #2
    Actually I didn't know there was something called "physics" until I took it in eleventh grade. After that I figured it would be cool to major in physics before going to med school. And somehow I wound up here, just finishing my first year of physics grad school.

    Incidentally, my condolences to anyone who votes "grad school."
  4. May 15, 2008 #3
    Still havent found it, I hate most things. changed my major 5 times though.

    Its not the subject as much as school. School is definitely getting in the way of my education
  5. May 15, 2008 #4
    I kind of fell into it as an undergrad. I started in computer science, but the department was very large and impersonal, and most of my peers wanted to be code monkeys or IT droids, so as you may imagine it was very depressing for me. I moved to pure math, which is kind of I guess what I wanted to do as a CS major, but I found it deathly dry, like they somehow managed to siphon all the fun out of the most wonderful creation of the human imagination. Figuring there was some conservation law at play, I went off in search of all the fun (which, incidentally, they don't keep in the political science department). My grandiose adventure consisted of walking up the flight of stairs from the math department offices, and like some sort of deus ex machina, an invisible hand led me right to the physics department offices.
  6. May 15, 2008 #5
    Yeah I'm very similar. This worries since I'm in my 20s, haven't been to college yet, and I'm not 100% sure of what I really want to spend the rest of my life doing.

    Jordan Joab.
  7. May 15, 2008 #6
    Just finish your core courses. That'll knock out about two years off your undergraduate degree right off the bat.
  8. May 15, 2008 #7


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    i accept your condolences as it was grad school when i found my first great teacher and felt most magnetized by my subject.

    i liked it in high school, supported by a very caring teacher i still revere, and still liked it in college inspired by great lecturers like john tate, but harvard was such an awful place in terms of personal relations and [lack of] concern for students, in spite of being a superb place for high quality lectures and research, that i faltered and almost lost my way.

    then at brandeis i had maurice auslander as freshman algebra teacher, and he was so good i thought of becoming an algebraist. but he was so honest he realized i was not at heart an algebraist, and rejected me as a student, in favor of my real love geometry.

    then i was lucky to be a student of allan mayer, in algebraic geometry, a brilliant and supportive teacher, but the politics of the 60's distracted me. eventually i returned to grad school, where i was helped first by hugo rossi, a powerful complex analyst, and then finally adopted by herb clemens, an amazingly gifted algebraic geometer, for whom i really could work.

    after that, i benefited from the generosity of david mumford and heisuke hironaka, and phillip griffiths. ultimately my career was shaped by my partnership with the very gifted Robert Varley.

    so a career has many high points. (I am 65 years old.)
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  9. May 15, 2008 #8
    In primary school I found that I really liked to compute things. A few years later in high school I knew that I wanted to do math or physics. I really liked to compute complicated things using a calculator that has only the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operator. E.g. I could compute logarithms or other functions using series expansions. I think I was 13 or 14 years old. I liked to set myself some difficult problem and then to try to solve it. And I'm still doing that today for my work :smile:
  10. May 15, 2008 #9
    I wanted to do engineering/research when I was very little

    and in grade 12, due to some personal trouble, I din't want to do anything (lost interest in everything ;( ) .. so I thought about doing math major but randomly applied to universities for physics major, and then changed it to software and then to electrical (for no reason)

    and, now I ve finished electrical first year with super good marks(+trying to do economics minor) ... now the only thing that interests is challenge (and I guess I still ven't decided what I want to do - just want to solve problems; work in different countries (Japan,) )
  11. May 15, 2008 #10
    It depends on what you consider "passion". I knew I wanted to study science of some sort from very early grade school--probably kindergarten to first grade. I knew I was going to be a scientist of some sort by high school. I knew I was going to study physics by late high school.

    However, I didn't discover my love for teaching physics until I was TA'ing in grad school. That's what prompted me to shift my path into physics education. So I voted grad school.
  12. May 15, 2008 #11
    I've went through a lot of "passions." In middle school, I wanted very badly to be an air force pilot, and that dream was shot down when I first put on a pair of glasses and realized how bad my vision is (as of now, I can't even read the words on my 19" monitor without my glasses if my face is two feet away from the screen) and learned that fighter pilots have to have 20/20 vision. In early-mid high school, I had a passion for music. Then, in late high school and early college I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere in the middle I wanted to be a psychologist (I'd say almost half of the people I know wanted to be a psychologist at some point in their life), and probably switched back to wanting to be a musician once or twice. At any rate, most of the time I assumed that I was destined to be some sort of artist.

    I took nothing but liberal education in my first college year. From a variety of rather subtle influences, I got this crazy idea to be a physicist. At the time, I think, it was a really absurd idea. I was absolutely horrible at math and had to start at a low level algebra class. Actually, I didn't even know math was used very much in physics. I knew it was used, but I had no idea that it was the main tool. But, I miraculously aced the algebra class that I took for liberal arts class (first math class I ever got an A in), and took a precalc class and a physics class. I aced both, found that I very much enjoyed it--everything about it, really: the challenge, the problem-solving, the sheer ecstasy of acquiring knowledge and understanding new concepts from different perspectives--and decided that I just might be able to do this. And then, of course, I've always wanted to help find some way to solve the world's problems, but in order to do so you have to understand the world first. Needless to say, I decided that physics is the way to go for me.

    Of course, I quickly realized I wasn't going to get very many places with the understaffed and underfunded physics program at my school, so I switched to a math major and planned on transferring at some point. I think, for a short while, I lost a lot of my interest in physics, but that was reignited when I took a couple more higher-level physics classes (for fun, really) after doing nothing but pure math.
  13. May 16, 2008 #12


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    I took an elective on general topology when I was in high school and haven't looked back.
  14. May 16, 2008 #13
    Physics was so much fun in high school because much of the content was contextual i.e. historical, social but of course with some maths in it, but no calculus.
    Now that I'm almost halfway through my first year of my undergraduate engineering degree I beg to differ as Physics in university demanded a lot more from me.

    But in the end there aren't many degrees that ensures a decent income and augments me with the capacity to do much more than everyone else so I guess I'm likely to stick with Engineering.
  15. May 16, 2008 #14

    really? im the complete oppossite.... i luv everything. As long as it's related to science and or math.


    my dream job would be, someone to pay me to learn all this in depth till I die. ......
  16. May 16, 2008 #15
    lol, same here! Actually I loved Molecular Biology from high school and a bit of chemistry, but since trying out some more advanced stuff in chemistry and physics I have noticed that I like all three very much. So I will probably study something like Biotech/Biochemistry with a few courses in physics and Biological Physics.
  17. May 16, 2008 #16
    This will sound rather lame, but I worked retail for awhile after high school & really had no direction or idea what I wanted to do with my life. Then one day I heard Michio Kaku talking on the subject, & it really sparked my interest. After a bit of research, I decided that physics is what I was really interested in & what field I wanted to go into.
  18. May 16, 2008 #17
    I've known how much I love space since I was little. I went to Space Camp four times as a kid. Of course, I didn't know the term astrophysics back then, I just knew that cosmic bodies and space exploration were exciting!

    I was introduced to physics during my freshman year of high school, took AP Physics my senior year, and by the time college application time came, I knew that was what I wanted to major in. Now I'm an astrophysics doctoral student, planning for a career in the space program.
  19. May 16, 2008 #18
    about learning about the universe? young age

    i remember picking up a book LONG ago (I believe 1st or 2nd grade) and it was talking about how large the universe is. apparently they had a value for it too. this made me wonder how on earth they got that value, and i've been curious about the universe ever since.

    my passion for math and physics came in highschool, and its even more reinforced by the fact that now it's helping me with my understanding of a childhood curiousity
  20. May 17, 2008 #19
    I would like to hear more. That is if you'd like to elaborate. :smile:

    My story is as follows. I thought of becoming a social-science major in high school. I asked my big brother what he thought about it. He said "No don't do that, become a natural-science major, I believe in you."

    With that said I became a science-major in highschool. Highschool in sweden isn't exactly like in the US, you got a more strict curriculum to follow with almost no choices at all.

    And now my brother is graduating in about a year from Chalmers, Myself is going on for my third year. It is sometimes rather tough but I like it.
  21. Jun 2, 2008 #20
    I dont remember how old I was , but me and my mom visited a small book exhibition in my town...I think that was my first visit to any exhibition.For some reason i picked up a book named "The Universe"...may be it was cheaper ;p
    When i started reading it, the author had so wonderfully written the content which fascinated me about the stuff going on "up" there ..hence the interest!
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