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What does it take to be a physicist or scientist in general

  1. Jun 12, 2012 #1

    I've read PF for a while now and recieved a lot of useful information regarding academic and career guidance, thanks to all of you. I myself am heavily interested in physics and science in general (I read Origin of Species in junior high and was absolutely thrilled) and I'm planning a career in academia as a researcher. Some background of me: I dropped from High School after 3 months and switched to a vocational college (business degree) ie. when I graduate next year I can work as an accountant, sales manager etc.

    From summer of 2010 to autumn of 2011 I was actually completely NEET (not in education, employment, or training) and I was at my lowest in motivation and happiness. I think it was combination of different factors but in a way it culminated in watching Cosmos. I've read a lot of popscience books and watched different shows and I know I don't actually learn any "hard science" from them but Carl Sagan was a huge influence for me. Up to that point I had this idea of science being extremely boring and I had that "What kind of practical use does X have?" attitude towards science. To cut it short: First I thought yeah Einstein was smart guy but what good is his theories for anyone? Now I know the practical applications of GR (GPS etc.) but I don't really care about them, I just want to know about the theory without caring if it's any use for anything! I find myself immersed in my independent studies of physics (HS level) even if they're just about Newtons laws and calculating different mechanical forces. Outside that stuff I really enjoy Feynman's lectures and interviews even if I don't understand most of them. I think I have smiliar attitude towards science, though I'm probably not as gifted. :smile:

    So now I have year left in my business degree (mostly training in workplaces, hopefully accounting) and I'm planning to work maybe a year, do my mandatory military service and then apply to study physics in university. I'm worried about the qualities a physicist or physics student should have. I think I have the right attitude and realistic expetations of what's it going to be. In a way I like doing a lot of "boring" mathematics to understand physical concepts and I don't overlook areas that don't particulary interest me. I try to spent X amounts of hours on every subject and then extra hours on things that interest me more than others. I know I'm a HS dropout but in junior high I was in the top 1 % of my school and in my independent studies with HS material I'm progressing at a good pace. I don't delude myself into thinking that I really understanding anything about GR, QM or any of that higher stuff and I most certainly do not think that I can come up with any kind of original theories at this point. Basically I think I have the talent and dedication to get my Ph.D and become a researcher in the field through hard work. I'm just not quite sure what kind of person a scientist should be. Analytical? Introverted? Child-prodigy? The thing that worries me most is that while I'm working hard to study HS math and physics, a lot of people say it's going to be a whole different world in university and excelling in HS material doesn't really tell you anything or correlate with success. But then again what else can I do then study these things?

    Sorry for the lengthy post. English is my second language so I'm not very proficient with it and I'm only 19 years old, to add another excuse. :biggrin:

    PS. I'd appreciate if someone could point out areas of math and physics I should have mastered before entering university. In my country we don't use names like Algebra, Arithmetic, Calculus etc. so I'm quite often confused off what areas I already know and what I should learn next. From my understanding Calculus should be the final point in math in HS(?) But about physics I have absolutely no idea what areas I should know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2012 #2
    All it takes is a deep love and Passion for it. If you have that, you will figure out how to work out all the other details.
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