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Studying What are you studying for?

  1. Jul 12, 2007 #1
    For me I have to say I'm primarily studying for a preferred career.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2007 #2
    it's all i know :(
  4. Jul 12, 2007 #3


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    I guess I'm studying mathematics for pure fun. My career is totally unrelated, but the mathematics does relate (not really but I'll tell the employers it does).
  5. Jul 12, 2007 #4
    I'm studying because I love physics. And I can't do anything else quite so well. And won't either, because I'll hate doing something I don't really like.
  6. Jul 12, 2007 #5
    To be a little more knowledgeable than I was yesterday!
  7. Jul 12, 2007 #6
    Law schools like students with technical degrees, and EE is a lot more fun than majoring in a liberal arts field.
  8. Jul 12, 2007 #7
    The satisfaction of understanding something perfectly.
  9. Jul 12, 2007 #8

    I use to think along the lines of you people but recently this raw love has escaped from me. To be honest, study is not a natural acitivity. A big appeal maths and physics use to offer was truth but this isn't completely correct either as their foundations are rather vague, if not problematic. Another big appeal use to be that was fun but when you get into it and see others in your class do something much better than you can its very demolarising (how do you spell?) and the fun goes away. We are competitive animals by nature unfortunately.
  10. Jul 12, 2007 #9
    studying goes both ways for me. I study for the pure joy of understanding more things, and for the rewards that it will get me in my career and a decent living.
  11. Jul 13, 2007 #10
    As a cure for boredom.
  12. Jul 13, 2007 #11
    That's one of my reasons as well. If I am not enjoying studying than I know it can be better than doing nothing or doing wasting time things.
  13. Jul 13, 2007 #12
    The reasons I study physics now as a researcher are different from the reasons I studied physics as an undergrad or as a high school student.

    As a sixteen year-old I was seduced by the eloquence of simple harmonic motion and the suggestive similarity between Coloumb's law (F=kq_1q_/r^2) and Newton's law of gravitation (F=Gm_1_m_2/r^2). I loved the stories that my teacher told us about Schrodinger and Newton and Brahe and I was thrilled by the fabled quality of Einstein's thought experiments with the trains and the twins.

    As an undergrad I did not have the most beautiful transcript in the class, but I was still pleased to suffer the personalities of my professors and to slave over problem sets in the company of people who became good friends. I also had a really good experience in my first research job (patent royalties: 0.01%) that made me believe I was cut out to do research in physics and motivated me to persevere in my coursework.

    Early in my undergrad I was constantly stressed out about keeping up in class and getting OK grades - I had to work my butt off just to stay on top of the homeworks and I didn't have any spare time just to "play around". Later on in undergrad - and especially during my summer research jobs - I had more freedom and time to pursue something just because I was curious. What defines the height and radius of a conic pile of sulphur? Under what conditions could a person whip the seat of a child's swing over the top of the bar from which the chain is suspended? What lattice structures will support circulating "hopping" currents?

    To a high school student, physics offers the possibility of profound truth; it's a little disappointing when physics tells us how inadequate our descriptions of reality really are. But now I often think that description is a much better prize than truth. The bon mots that were the bread and butter of high school physics are rarer but more compelling: I was thrilled by the way Gibbs' paradox suggests that there are macroscopic consequences for the quantum mechanical indistinguishability of identical particles. And I got a kick when the E&M professor wondered why Maxwell never noticed that his equations for light were not invariant under Galilean transforms.

    Now I do physics because I can get away with it! I like teaching - it's a thrill to see students understand something that you've explained. Research combines different pleasures - there is the pleasure of designing something (computer code or lab equipment) and the pleasure of seeing it work and produce results that have something to do with what you expect to see! And then there is the pleasure of figuring out why something *didn't* work - which naturally only accompanies the frustration of seeing that something isn't doing what you expected it to do! And there is also the pleasure of the company of able and friendly folk who help you tinker with your ideas and who bounce your best thoughts back to you with the mistakes skimmed off.

    Day-to-day physics research has none of the competitive aspects that undergraduate coursework has. Try to take pleasure in perservering and try to make the time pursue the silly questions that bubble into your mind as you work. Enjoy the company of your classmates and the insights of your professors. And enjoy the freedom to study things besides physics and math!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2007
  14. Jul 13, 2007 #13


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    I study because I'm interested in what I study, I think that's enough. Luckily, I have picked a field which promises a good career and offers lots of opportunities and research topics, so these could also be called motives for studying.
  15. Jul 13, 2007 #14
    I study to learn.

    Pet peeve:

    Someone: That is not on the test
    Me: So?
  16. Jul 13, 2007 #15
    And what field might that be?
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2007
  17. Jul 13, 2007 #16


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    If you study something too hard, obsessively, you'll get bored of it.

    Either that or it'll tip you over the edge.
  18. Jul 13, 2007 #17
    I see no reason as to why that needs to be correct.
  19. Jul 13, 2007 #18
    Maybe J77 should also have added 'without much success' or 'not being at a level as desired by the person'.
  20. Jul 13, 2007 #19


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    I'm studying civil engineering and in September I'll have to decide between geotechnical engineering and structural analysis. It's a though choice because there's a lot of application of numerical analysis in both fields, which I'm specifically interested in.
  21. Jul 14, 2007 #20
    I study to better my understanding of the world and to help direct my current and future research in the realm of Biophysics.
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