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So how many of us want to be like A. Einstein, I. Newton,etc

  1. Oct 5, 2016 #1
    The main reason for this post is because I want to know what other fellow physics lovers are like. I'm interested in knowing each and every one of you and your approach to science!
    Reading some things here I see that a lot of you care a lot about your brain and your career in science. Some even appear to be true geniuses.

    I surely am a very curious person about everything and I'd love to end up contributing to the world like Michael Faraday, Nikola Tesla or even Richard Feynman. These are all great man whom I look up to. Since little I've loved science and technology and now I just have an enthusiastic obsession to understand life.
    I sometimes do believe I have the potential, then I realise I destroyed my brain in my teen years. Although I have, as my teachers say, "an insightful understanding of science and mathematics", and "pick up concepts quickly" I have trouble with my learning/memory and motivation to study for school more than 1 hour a day, leading me to do well academically but not much above the average... but I can study non-school related things all day for pure joy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2016 #2
    Most want to achieve great things. It's what drives innovation and the human spirit. We want to make a difference in the world.


    Because of your brain damage? If you have a passion, the motivation should not be a problem
  4. Oct 5, 2016 #3


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    I think it's fairly common for young people who have an affinity for STEM-related things to start out thinking this way.

    You take your first physics class in high school and realize that (a) this stuff is really neat, and (b) compared to most of your classmates, you're pretty good at it. The classes tend to be taught with a chronological weighting too - starting out with simple experiments that made the first people who performed them rather famous. Not to mention in modern western society we grow up surrounded by stories of innovators - people who make it big based on a few bright ideas and a load of hard work. So it's no wonder to me that a lot of young people buy into the idea that they can be the next Einstein or Feynman.

    And while the cold reality of statistics disagree strongly with this, I don't think the idea of seeing yourself is the next big thing is necessarily bad, particularly while you're young. Starting out with grand hopes is what can push people to dive deeper into a given field or work through the challenges they are presented with. It's what pushes people to explore.

    I think what tends to happen is that you people progress through more advanced studies, their expectations become more realistic. As an undergrad, you realize that you're not as far above the average as you were in high school, and you learn that you're not going to have a brilliant flash of insight one night and write down a grand unified theory of everything. As a graduate student you're lucky to be average. And as you learn more about your field, you begin to realized that science doesn't work so much in astounding steps, but baby ones. And that you'll be able to contribute to some of those baby steps.

    And the thing is, you can still be great - perhaps not in the sense that your younger self may have envisioned. You may not be written about it textbooks after you're dead. But you can still have a positive impact on the world.
  5. Oct 5, 2016 #4
    Or even Richard Feynman?
  6. Oct 6, 2016 #5
    Is there a statistics about people like famous scientists that don't make it?
    What differs a famous scientist to an average one? I honestly think there's no way to predict either than what you've described: involved and interested since a young age and doing quite well in it. Who's to say these people are likely not to change the world? Considering the amount of people that are like this and how many new contributions there are to science every year, I would say almost all of them seem to do something big somehow.Only a few will end up in the textbooks, but I honestly don't think that most will just make 'baby steps'.
  7. Oct 6, 2016 #6
    When I was 14 I smoked weed about 4 times and went to the hospital in my last time until I was 16. then, I went out to drink and smoked every weekend, while also doing kickboxing and sparring so I got hit in the head quite a lot. This went on for a year.

    The reason I know this did something is because I only paid attention to my classes as a kid and was always really good at sciences, now I'm relatively just as good but I study and try a lot more.
    I find it next to impossible to focus on and remember things i'm not interested in. In my preliminary course of chemistry, I joined it on the last term because I found it very interesting and managed to come 3/11 in my class. Now that the course changed completely and we have to learn mostly about the industry, how to make plastics, cleaning waterways etc. I just can't put that rubbish into my brain. As such I dropped to 5th place. Same things apply to biology.
    In English, I get extremely frustrated we have to learn about poems and fiction stories and get marked on how well we can talk about them. I refuse to take part in this and so I'm barely passing English. So, my problem is not motivation for my passion, but for things in the way of my passion that need to get done and I don't see any benefits in.
  8. Oct 6, 2016 #7


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    Relevant PhD comic: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1012
  9. Oct 6, 2016 #8
  10. Oct 6, 2016 #9


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    It's perhaps a bit overstated. If you read about how difficult it is to gain an academic career, however, it may temper ambitions. Becoming a successful academic (lets define that as a permanent position doing science) is very hard.

    I work with very successful scientists. They won't be remembered by the general public like Einstein, but they have had impact in their field, have published many many articles, have led research groups, developed laboratories, collaborated with people on different continents and have had huge and lasting impacts on their students. That sounds like a pretty successful life to me. I don't aspire to Einstein, or a Nobel prize, but I do aspire to something like that. And that's hard enough.

    ETA: I will add "and have done important outreach work to inspire new scientists" to that list. I would also like to add that aspiring to be famous rarely works in science. It is better to aspire to do good science.
  11. Oct 6, 2016 #10
    I don't want to be like Einstein or Newton. Newton was a very troubled man in his personal life, and Einstein had a lot of trouble with Women.

    I wouldn't even want to be like most academics, because I don't love physics enough to devote the time and energy it takes to be successful in academia. Once I finish my PhD i'll be happy to leave physics behind and pursue other things.
  12. Oct 6, 2016 #11
    Why did you take a PhD in physics? for job opportunities?
  13. Oct 7, 2016 #12


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    No, I would not want to, nor would be able to, be like A. Einstein or I. Newton. Feynman I never cared for in the first place. I have other "heroes", but mostly I would like to be me, improve upon my own flaws (intellectual and otherwise) and continue to learn about mathematics and its applications using my own capacities.

    As an aside, it is perhaps interesting to know that the Dutch member of the trio that won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year worked as a researcher in the private sector after his doctorate (for Shell, to be precise) before returning to academia. Of course, depending on the field, this is not uncommon but I still found it inspiring. When I was a beginning student, I tended to frown upon people that even just temporarily left the "straight path" through academia. Recently I started to see that there is more than one way towards good and lasting research.
  14. Oct 14, 2016 #13
    Nope, that would be silly. I did it for the same reason people play college sports - they enjoy it, and the challenge of it. That doesn't mean everyone who plays sports wants to be a professional athlete the rest of their lives.
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