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Should I study Physics?

  1. Jan 1, 2016 #1
    Since I have memory, I'm very curious about science, specially about Physics. Some ago I read about multiverses, so there was a possibility about the existence of other universes with other rules of Physics.
    Then, the rules of Physics of this universe could be random, so why is interesting studying Physics? Why is interesting studying some facts that could be random? This blocks my mind, because all the curious I had is starting to disappear
    ... Why I should be curious about some random facts? Why I should study Physics? Thanks for all your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2016 #2


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    Things aren't as random as you sketch them here.
    And there will be no one to tell you why you should study physics, except you yourself, I should hope.
  4. Jan 1, 2016 #3


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    It turns out that a lot of those "random facts" turn out to be quite useful.
  5. Jan 1, 2016 #4
    If your main interest is "multiverses" and stuff like that (like "wormholes", "time travel") then physics is probably not for you. Well, that might be a bit wrong. But it is definitely the case that you would find a physics major to be vastly different than what you expect. Physics is a lot of difficult math. And in 99.9% of the classes, you won't ever talk about multiverses, wormholes or time travel at all. And once you do, it is under a very firm layer of abstract math.

    I advice you to get a good textbook in physics and work through that. If you enjoy that and want to know more, then you'll be in a better situation to judge whether you would like physics or not.
  6. Jan 2, 2016 #5


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    Physics is far less esoteric than popularization's would have you realize. Unlike mathematics, were I can "randomly" (using this very loosely) define a set of axioms and then build an entire branch of mathematics that has no analog in the physical world, physics is much more interested in modeling this physical world - using mathematics as a tool. Very few physicists are actually concerned with an interpretation of a certain sub-field, that shall remain nameless, that results in multiverses, wormholes, or any of that other jazz.
  7. Jan 2, 2016 #6
    Well, there are things like the number of electrons of each element and the speed of light and sound, that are set randomly without any rule. Why physicists are interested in such randomly facts?
  8. Jan 2, 2016 #7
    "Why" questions like the ones you just posed are not dealt with in a physics major at all. It sounds more like philosophy.
  9. Jan 2, 2016 #8


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    These are actually understood to a lesser or greater extent.

    1. That a one-electron element has the properties of hydrogen, a two-electron element has the properties of helium, etc., follows from the principles of quantum mechanics and quantum chemistry, at least in principle. As the number of electrons increases, the analysis becomes more complex, and this is not my special field so I don't know how far the prediction of elements' properties has been carried out in practice.

    2. "Why is the speed of light what it is?" is a rather common question here, and it turns out to have a rather subtle (non)answer. See our FAQ https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/why-does-c-have-a-particular-value-and-can-it-change.511385/ [Broken]

    3. The mechanism that determines the speed of sound was essentially understood by Isaac Newton, who presented it in his famous Principia Mathematica. For a more modern treatment, see here: http://www.mathpages.com/home/kmath109/kmath109.htm

    The answer to every "why" question in physics always leads to another "why?" ("Why is A true?" "Because of B." "Why is B true, then?" etc.) Nevertheless, the search for deeper and deeper regularities in the laws of the universe has proven fruitful in the past, if not always successful, so physicists keep on doing it. Some of them, anyway; many physicists content themselves with working to explain observed phenomena and properties in terms of the laws we already know (e.g. in quantum chemistry). It may be that they will discover something that really can't be explained by what we know already, and that will lead us to some new theory.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  10. Jan 2, 2016 #9

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    Here's the thread thus far (OP in bold):
    1. Why are physicists interested in random facts?
    2. They're not so random - here's why
    3. They're not so random - they can be useful
    4. Addresses another point
    5. Addresses another point
    6. Why are physicists interested in random facts?
    This is going to go around and around in circles.

    Willelm, part of participating in a forum is in listening to what others have to say. If you just repeat the same thing over and over again, you will never get anywhere - and you are depriving yourself of the chance to learn. We had the same problem with your logic problem thread. Please, break the cycle.
  11. Jan 2, 2016 #10
    It's all about perspective. I don't find these thing to be random; they are what they are. You may find these physical traits to be random and unrelated, but physicists try to make sense of these facts and relate them.

    For example, the permeability of free space ( the μ0 constant within the equation for magnetic force ) was defined a relatively simple value, but its sister constant, the permittivity free space, ( the ε0 constant within the equation for electric force ), had an experimentally determined value. These funky numbers seemed unrelated mathematically, but physics experts had a hunch that they were based on the nature of the forces involved. After many investigations, a beautiful relation was discovered. Behold:
    $$c=\frac{1}{\sqrt{ \varepsilon_0 \mu_0}}$$
    ( c ) represents the speed of light. Now the constants don't seem as random. Speaking of the speed of light, does it's value ( 2.9979x108 m/sec ) seem random or are our metrics for measuring space and time ( commonly the meter and second, respectively ) truly the cause for such speed's randomness? Since this question asks for subjective answers, it belongs in a philosophy forum. Nevertheless, most physicists redefine the metric for space and time so that the speed of light is simply$$c=1$$
    No units, no powers of ten, no infinite decimal places, just one. The speed of light is so fundamental and natural, physicists treat it as if it were a natural number; it's easy to deal with.

    Now for the number of electron in an element, it doesn't seem random or arbitrary to me. Quantum mechanics clears that up nicely.
    The speed of sound is not random; it depends on temperature and its medium material. The speed of sound is much faster in solids and liquids than in gases.​
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