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Understanding physics without lab work

  1. Feb 4, 2017 #1
    Can you understand physics if you are good in math and suck at proving something practical?I tried to do that and it only worked in hs.I have never realized that i need materials to do the trick.Do you need a lab to see what happens and than explain the phenomenum or you can apply math without lab materials?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2017 #2


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    Not sure whether this helps, but a professor of mine used to say: "There are basically two types of physicists. One part are mathematicians, and the others are locksmiths." Needles to say he was a mathematician.
    Personally I doubt that e.g. Einstein or Schrödinger have been good on practical tasks.
  4. Feb 4, 2017 #3
    Locksmith as in a dumb,retarded person?
  5. Feb 4, 2017 #4


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    No, not at all. Simply a person that works with his hands. Experimentalists can and often are very gifted. And some experiments require real smartness. It is just so, that often these two talents don't come together in the same person. Modern science is more and more a matter of team work, as experiments as well as theoretic models get more sophisticated and complex. You don't have to be good on everything, but you probably should have experiences and knowledge about both sides of the coin.
  6. Feb 4, 2017 #5


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    First off - how do you know you "suck at proving something practical?"

    Often I think people mischaracterise themselves. Some kids walk into a physics lab and have trouble not because they don't have the capacity or intelligence or drive to do well, but because they simply haven't ever used an oscilloscope, or propagated errors or spent any time tinkering with something that didn't work right the first time. Laboratory work requires skills, not just knowledge, to do well. And the only way you get those skills (as with any skills) is through practice.

    To be successful in physics you need a certain base level of experimental skills and experience. So yes, at some point you have to do the experiments.
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