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Questioning physics major

  1. Jan 23, 2009 #1
    i'm currently in Diff Eq and Theoretical Physics, and these classes are so dull! i'm already struggling with the material two weeks into the semester. i'm questioning whether i really even like physics anymore. i used to love physics and astronomy (or what i could grasp of them) when i was younger. i loved reading articles about current science news. i don't have time for that anymore, it's just school.

    is it normal to feel this way, or do i need to consider a new career path?

    it's funny, because i really enjoyed my last science class, where i had to do a lot of research and write a paper about cubeSat components... i thought after that class that i had a fire for science, especially physics and astronomy. i'm really disappointed in myself.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2009 #2
    Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the majority of physics beyond introductory physics is based on differential equations. Take that as you will.
  4. Jan 23, 2009 #3
    You're not going to enjoy every course in your major. What other courses are you taking? Do you enjoy those? What courses are you expecting to take next semester?
  5. Jan 23, 2009 #4
    Theoretical physics >> what class is that exactly?

    are you struggling with the material because you think it's dull or bacause you think it's difficult?

    I don't know. I actually found DiffEq quite enjoyable.
  6. Jan 23, 2009 #5

    Andy Resnick

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    To some degree it's normal- you are being exposed to all the parts of physics, not just the interesting fluffy bits you read about in the popular literature.

    As far as choosing a career path, what is your 5-year plan? Graduate, and then what?
  7. Jan 23, 2009 #6
    Course Description:
    Review of: Complex numbers, vector spaces, linear operators, and vector integral systems. Study of Fourier series; product solutions of PDEs; and special functions. Co-requisite: Differential Equations (MATH 2420 or equivalent).

    i think it's a bit of both.
  8. Jan 23, 2009 #7
    i have no idea any more. it's strange, but i don't know what my interests are or what i'm good at. i started this path because it's what i enjoyed in high school, but it's been a few years. i'm going to the career center at my school next week to see if there's anything out there for me.
  9. Jan 23, 2009 #8
    Where exactly is the physics in this class?
  10. Jan 23, 2009 #9


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    Sounds like a mathematics for physicist class. It would be a good syllabus for that class.
  11. Jan 23, 2009 #10
    yeah, i guess it is. the weird thing is that my school also offers a mathematics for physics class...
  12. Jan 23, 2009 #11
    So if you are not taking any "true" physics classes and are bored, maybe you are not bored by physics but rather the math preparation classes?
  13. Jan 26, 2009 #12
    those kinda courses have the reputation of being boring. I've hated every single DEs course I've taken. the pain will soon pass, don't worry.
  14. Jan 26, 2009 #13
    they have that class in my uni too, I'm taking a similar class for EE's now; diffy q's will get more interesting IMO, I enjoyed my introductory diffy q class as well as the one I'm taking now.
  15. Jan 27, 2009 #14
    I'll confess that I found Diff EQ excessively boring, but then found Partial Differential Equations / Boundary Value Problems one of my most interesting math courses. I think it didn't have so much to do with professor quality, but rather text quality. This could be because Diff EQ is taken by many engineering majors.... meaning there's many more texts on the market; so many more opportunities to go bad. I don't often sell back text books, but I'm not sure about where that Diff EQ text is anymore... maybe I did sell it back. On the other hand, I regret purchasing my BVP text used, since it was in poor condition and quickly fell into two halves... which I do still have years later!

    I'll also confess that I don't know what your "theoretical physics" course is (though it looks like math methods). I'm actually glad I declared my physics major late so that I didn't feel compelled to take some non-required intermediate "holder" classes (like math methods)... I just dove straight into physics-major quantum, E/M, thermo and Mechanics (all at the same time!) right after the standard intro calc-based courses. I feel there's something fishy about some of those intermediate courses.... 140_animated_fish_swimming.gif
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  16. Jan 27, 2009 #15


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    I agree. Maybe you are just bored by the math classes, and not necessarily the physics you are learning?
  17. Jan 27, 2009 #16
    I think that could be the interesting part. There's obviously some interest but that doesn't imply or require you to love all of physics and the mathematics that goes with it. A pure maths class may well seem dull and boring but it's one of those requirements to really focus on the areas that you like.

    I myself tend to go through quite a few phases where I get bored or 'fall out of love' with my degree. I especially dislike the electronic/experimental side of physics and those classes can sometimes make me question whether I'm really doing the right thing. But as soon as I pick up the the astro-topics or quantum-topics then it really reminds me why I've chosen to study physics.

    Whilst I do tend to dislike the electro/experimental side of things I've still managed to develop an appreciation for what the subjects involve and having a basic understanding of things like experimental errors and limitations is somewhat fundamental to the subject.

    So perhaps in your case the purely mathematical side of things is just not of interest? Doesn't mean the topis aren't vital though and will probably be something you have to grind your way through.

    I guess I'm pretty much agreeing with most of the above posts.
  18. Jan 27, 2009 #17
    Just get the degree. You don't necessarily have to choose physics as a career path.
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