What do you guys think of physics

Does a person has to be talented at mathematics to be good at physics?

  • Yes. Physics is mathematical science.

    Votes: 38 88.4%
  • No.

    Votes: 5 11.6%

  • Total voters
    43
  • #1
jhooper3581
49
0
What do you guys think?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
20,761
4,618


Physics like other physical sciences are quantitative. In most applications, it is necessary to be have some level of proficiency in mathematics - the more proficient, the better.
 
  • #3
fluidistic
Gold Member
3,876
211


In fact I'm not sure what you mean by "talented in mathematics". Also what do you mean by "good at physics"?
If talented in mathematics means being able to understand and do the math required for solving physics problems that one encounters in undergraduate studies and if good at physics mean someone able to earn a university physics degree with a decent average (say more than 70%) then my answer would be yes.
In my opinion, mathematic knowledge and application is a requirement for a physics degree. On the other hand you don't have to be a mathematician to be good at physics.

If good at physics means being able to understand string theory or any other theory requiring a lot of mathematical knowledge then the math requirement is much bigger than the one needed for a bachelor's degree and in this case you're being closer to a mathematician I believe (but I'm not 100% sure, I'm only an undergrad student).

Could you precise a little more the question?
 
  • #4
cronxeh
Gold Member
1,004
10


Its not even about being able to add 2+2. I think it has everything to do with analytical thinking, sort of a blend between spacial orientation, ability to plot something 3 dimensional in your mind, and accounting for all the physical laws that apply or more importantly dont apply to a particular problem. Case in point, some wise guy asked what is the flux through a base of a tetrahedron with side of 10 cm laying above the electric field of 100 N/C inclined at 10 degrees. Obviously you need to know how to find a surface area of a tetrahedron's base. Then you need to know about dimensional analysis, i.e you gotta convert cm into m before you go chopping wood and plugging formulas. The result is 100*cos(10)*sqrt(3)/4*0.1^2. Whatever it is, its all very zen and if you dont quite see the solution, perturbate it :biggrin:
 
  • #5
jhooper3581
49
0
Michael Faraday is considered the greatest experimentalist in the history of science. But, he didn't had interest in higher mathematics. What do you guys think about this, then?
 
  • #6
Jack21222
204
1


Michael Faraday is considered the greatest experimentalist in the history of science. But, he didn't had interest in higher mathematics. What do you guys think about this, then?

1) Physics was far different 200 years ago. You needed to know less in order to make new breakthroughs. Nowadays, what Faraday discovered is at a high school or early college level.

2) James Clerk Maxwell says that Faraday was "a mathematician of a very high order -- one from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive valuable and fertile methods." There are other branches of mathematics other than calculus, and Faraday was very good with geometry and using lines of force to describe electromagnetics.
 
  • #7
brewnog
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,739
7


I would say that I've never had an "interest" in mathematics, despite enjoying physics immensely during my studies. I treat maths as a necessary toolbox to facilitate the solution of engineering and physical problems. But to get the answers, you still need an aptitude for it.
 
  • #8
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
20,761
4,618


Michael Faraday is considered the greatest experimentalist in the history of science. But, he didn't had interest in higher mathematics. What do you guys think about this, then?
Perhaps an experimental physicist does not need to be as talented/proficient at math as a theoretician, but then again, perhaps it depends on the type of experiment. These days, sophisticated experiments require a fair amount of mathematical work in their design. I suppose without math, one is more or less a technician.
 
  • #9
dx
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,119
41


"To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature ... If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in. " - Richard Feynman
 
  • #10
MWIGuy
1
0


My definition of talented is, "naturally more able to understand or perform the subject or activity more effectively, as defined by the majority of people, than most other people". No, I do not believe you have to be "talented" but you must understand the required mathematics and have a decent amount of intelligence to be an effective physicist. No, I won't give you a cool definition of 'decent'. :approve:
 
  • #11
flatmaster
501
2


How can you be a novelist if you're not good with grammar?
 
  • #12
Pinu7
272
4


If you do not LOVE mathematics, you will HATE physics.

Even the experimental physicists need a lot of mathematics.
 
  • #13
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,356
287
If you do not LOVE mathematics, you will HATE physics.

Even the experimental physicists need a lot of mathematics.

I disagree. I don't love matematics or hate physics.
 
  • #14
kakarotyjn
98
0


If you want to do good physics,you need to know more math.Math is really important for physics.I agree with what fluidistic said.
 
  • #15
zoobyshoe
6,551
1,286


How can you be a novelist if you're not good with grammar?

Write in the first person and get an editor to clean up any incomprehensible punctuation. Some of the best stories I've ever heard were in grammatically incorrect local and regional dialects.
 
  • #16
dacruick
1,042
1


Write in the first person and get an editor to clean up any incomprehensible punctuation. Some of the best stories I've ever heard were in grammatically incorrect local and regional dialects.

thats like being a really good carpenter right? just make really cool and unstable things, and have a better carpenter come and fix all of them? haha just poking a little fun. but he has a point, stories were oral long before they were written, and each has a place. but you can not be a good novelist without having correct grammar. you can be a fantastic storyteller though.:)

the further you go into physics, the more integral mathmatics become. some people are good at classical mechanics because things are intuitive. but as you enter the realm of physics even more, things become less intuitive.
 
  • #17
Kracatoan
115
2


About 40 people in my year do Physics, 10 of those do Further Maths, none of those 10 are in the top 10 Physicists. In my mind, Mathematical Ability does make the physicist, it is creativity that matters.

Sure, maths may be useful if you want to use complicated rules that no-one cares about, but anyone with a decent grip of mathematics can do most of the useful calculations in physics. But, if you want to develop something new, you need that spark of creativity.
 
  • #18
zoobyshoe
6,551
1,286


thats like being a really good carpenter right? just make really cool and unstable things, and have a better carpenter come and fix all of them? haha just poking a little fun. but he has a point, stories were oral long before they were written, and each has a place. but you can not be a good novelist without having correct grammar. you can be a fantastic storyteller though.:)
All novelists have their stuff gone over by editors. My sister used to do this for a living.

The 'grammar is to novels as math is to physics' analogy is not really a very good one.
 
  • #19
DanP
114
1
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,923
3,251


Michael Faraday is considered the greatest experimentalist in the history of science. But, he didn't had interest in higher mathematics. What do you guys think about this, then?
You need to post the sources for this.
 
  • #21
Kracatoan
115
2


You need to post the sources for this.

What he said was true, read the preface of

"Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel" by Michio Kaku

It's also an incredibly well known fact that his family was poor.

It wasn't so much the fact that he had no interest in maths, he did, he was just terrible at it seeing as he was merely taught the basics of numeracy.
 
  • #22
Evo
Mentor
23,923
3,251


What he said was true, read the preface of

"Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel" by Michio Kaku

It's also an incredibly well known fact that his family was poor.

It wasn't so much the fact that he had no interest in maths, he did, he was just terrible at it seeing as he was merely taught the basics of numeracy.
Faraday was brilliant and his story is amazing. Do you think it would be possible for someone without a formal education (I believe that his schooling ended at age 12) would be allowed to advance now the way he did back then?
 
  • #23
Kracatoan
115
2


I advise watching http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qzlbv" [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #24
dx
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,119
41


Faraday was good at mathematics! After all, he did introduce the concept of the electromagnetic field into physics. Mathematical ideas need not always be represented and manipulated symbolically.
 
  • #25
flatmaster
501
2


thats like being a really good carpenter right? just make really cool and unstable things, and have a better carpenter come and fix all of them? haha just poking a little fun. but he has a point, stories were oral long before they were written, and each has a place. but you can not be a good novelist without having correct grammar. you can be a fantastic storyteller though.:)

This analogy breaks down though. A good carpenter who makes stairs is always thinking one step ahead.
 
  • #26
Leptos
171
0


What he said was true, read the preface of

"Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel" by Michio Kaku
On page 6 of the preface, Kaku says that without an understanding of advanced physics he would be left to speculate aimlessly about what is possible/impossible. Then he says he realized he had to study advanced mathematics and theoretical physics...
 
  • #27
dacruick
1,042
1


darn, i used the word integral in my last post without making a pun. this is a sad day for me. But seriously, whether or not my analogy is as pure as you would like it to be, math is definitely important in physics since physics is expressed through math.
 
  • #28
mcknia07
282
6


If you do not LOVE mathematics, you will HATE physics.

Even the experimental physicists need a lot of mathematics.

I love math, but not so much liking on the Physics part. It bores me, I've been told though, that is because I am in just the basic Physics and that it doesn't get fun until sting theory... if that's the case, bring on the string theory :biggrin:
 
  • #29
humanino
2,490
8


mcknia, string theory is plenty of fun, but the level of maths one can play with simply with quantum field theory is already quite satisfying, I guarantee.

There is quite some material on this webpage

Of course, I would advise to have exhausted classical field theory before
NhNBW8a8-lI[/youtube]
 

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