What does it take to become the best?

  • #1
what does it take to become the best???

hi guys,

I am an Xi grade student who loves physics.
I am quite good and can image situations and solve problems very well.
I just wanted to know what should i do to get that level of intellect necessary for physics olympiads.

Please suggest me books and their order of reading that can help me acheive this.
Unfortunately i have no extremely good teachers nearby.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Which country are you in? The level of difficulty of the national Physics Olympiad test depends on which country it is from.

I would highly recommend finding a copy of Irodov's Problems in General Physics. That should be enough.
 
  • #3
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XI grade? i take it you aren't in the US...
 
  • #4
mathwonk
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it takes luck. read the best sources and remember to go with what you love. being the best is not where the love is, doing what you enjoy is the key. "the best" is a title bestowed by others, hence is not a true concept.\

consider how ludicrous is a title like "sexiest man alive". this is analogous to being called "the best".
 
  • #5
mjsd
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XI grade? 11th Grade? how old are you? may be a bit late to start going for things like the international olympiad? anyway, there is nothing to stop you from trying... good luck
as to suggested readings.. start by going to the international science olympiad site and look at some past problems...you will then know what is required.
 
  • #6
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I'd say it takes more than hard work. As have been shown in any field. However mere hard work can make you 'up there' but not the best.
 
  • #7
I am a resident of india and i am 16 years old.
I was looking for books that can teach u to think like a physicist.
That can develop problem solving skills.
Some books that r bibles in their subjects.
Like morrison-boyd for organic chemistry.

Topics i am looking for are:
Classical mechanics.
Heat and thermodyanamics.
Electricity and magnetism.
etc.

i have irodov and have finished with the first 3 chapters.

I was looking for books that can teach techniques. eg. making out kinematical relationships,concept of reduced mass,etc.

Techniques that r necessay for problem solving.

Thanx for replying.
 
  • #8
hey if ur in india...arent u aiming for IIT-JEE???
 
  • #9
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It only takes talent. The rest of the equation is up to you. Talent + hard work = mastery.
 
  • #10
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XI grade? 11th Grade? how old are you? may be a bit late to start going for things like the international olympiad? anyway, there is nothing to stop you from trying... good luck
As long as you are in secondary school, it's never too late to go for the olympiads.
as to suggested readings.. start by going to the international science olympiad site and look at some past problems...you will then know what is required.
I agree -- you should try your hand at some of http://www.jyu.fi/kastdk/olympiads/" [Broken] (they have solutions, as well). Another nice book is 200 Puzzling Physics Problems.
Some books that r bibles in their subjects.
Like morrison-boyd for organic chemistry.
You don't really start hitting "bibles" until higher study of physics, but the closest thing is the Irodov book for problems. (For a general physics book, without many problems, I recommend Theoretical Physics by Georg Joos.)
i have irodov and have finished with the first 3 chapters.
Have you done every single problem in the first three chapters? If so, you should probably start trying some of the IPhO problems.
 
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  • #11
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i think who understands physics and logically take it would be the best, who enjoy solving problems, (talen) i agree with guy saying ( talent + hard work = mastery. that's a real cool principle =p )

he just needs th idea of th problems to get it...
 
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  • #12
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"the best" is a title bestowed by others, hence is not a true concept.\

I disagree, for example Roger Federer was the best tennis player in 2006 because he acquired most points on the champions race. This means he won more matches than any other player. Hence, he IS the best. It is that simple.

consider how ludicrous is a title like "sexiest man alive". this is analogous to being called "the best".
Pff, you are just jealous because you are not.

Sorry man...

marlon
 
  • #13
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at least you are that simple.

sorry man.

Hmm, thanks for such nice words of wisdom. You are a class act man. BRAVO !

marlon
 
  • #14
mathwonk
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you are right that was cheap. my apologies. sometimes i cant take a joke. peace.

i guess the suggestion that i am no longer the worlds sexiest man blew my fuse.
 
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  • #15
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you are right that was cheap. my apologies. sometimes i cant take a joke. peace.

i guess the suggestion that i am no longer the worlds sexiest man blew my fuse.

Hey man, don't worry about it. I have been there before as well.

greets

marlon
 
  • #16
mathwonk
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I hesitate to begin this again, but I have had another reflection on being the best. I have always wanted to be the best, but have never succeeded, since high school. Everywhere I have been, even if i chose it partly for the reason I thought I might be the best in that remote place, there was always someone better.

The good side is those people who were better have been my best friends, as I have greatly apreciated how good they were, and enjoyed learning from them and working with them.

So in my experience it has never been possible to be the best, no matter what i have done, but it has been possible to be pretty good while trying to be as good as possible, and I have met people who were simply fantastic, and enjoyed knowing them.

Even on this little forum where I am one of the few with a PhD in math and long experience, there are smarter people and people who know more, as is obvious. This is God's way of keeping us modest.
 
  • #17
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The best physicists and mathematicians have been able to free themselves entirely of selfish desires such as this; that is what you should aim for.
 
  • #18
mathwonk
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this may be a waste of time, but there are indeed many meanings to "the best". I was thinking of most gifted, which one canot affect. But another meaning is most accomplished, which is a measurement made later.

I guess one can enhance this measure by hard work, and often less gifted persons eventually excel more gifted ones by hard work. Indeed I have published more papers than far smarter and more talented people who left the subject sooner.

But to be among "the best", even briefly, usually requires both unusual gifts and also great stamina and perserverance.

better to aspire to a pure hearted pursuit of knowledge, rather than recognition. we may not be the best, but we speak from some experience.
 
  • #19
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The best physicists and mathematicians have been able to free themselves entirely of selfish desires such as this; that is what you should aim for.

This is not true. Most [or maybe allot of] geniuses in the history of science were arrogant.
 
  • #20
mathwonk
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not me. i am as modest as any genius you may encounter.

(the rule on no short messages robs this witty post of much of its punch.)
 
  • #21
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I will keep that in mind :wink:
 
  • #22
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This is not true. Most [or maybe allot of] geniuses in the history of science were arrogant.
Go ahead and name one. I can scarcely think of a single genuine scientist who was arrogant. Science fosters humility; it shows that their is a world beyond and irrespective of our everyday lives.

Some scientists might accept and admit that they are "gifted," but this is not the meaning of arrogance. Some scientists might be impatient, but this is not the meaning of arrogance. Most scientsts are humble.
 
  • #23
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Go ahead and name one.

Newton.

As to the original question, it takes a combination. You have to be intelligent enough to acquire expertise in the field, you have to have a "rage to master" -- an unbending desire to improve performance and simply do whatever it is your supposed to do, interest ( Because if you love say, math, for the sake of it and not for extrinsic rewards i.e. people praising you as the best! than that will result in a much fiercer motivation and that will result in putting in more time in the long run), luck (You have to be born in the right time, learn from the right people the right way in the right time and read the right things from the right books the right time, also you have to make serendipitous discoveries and profound generalizations from trivial problems and then there's genius, Some one once said that creativity is the ability to make unusual but fruitful associations, Lastly, and I stress this, DO NOT create run on sentences.

But if I may, why be interested in being the best? To be the best you have to love doing the subject in an end in itself anyhow, and drop any notions of extrinsic reward (i.e. being hailed as the best or for recognition), and you are much happier in the end anyhow, even if you don't become the best.

Here's an interesting quote I think by Huxely.

If we evolved a race of Isaac Newtons, that would not be progress. For the price Newton had to pay for being a supreme intellect was that he was incapable of friendship, love, fatherhood, and many other desirable things. As a man he was a failure; as a monster he was superb.
 
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  • #24
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Go ahead and name one. I can scarcely think of a single genuine scientist who was arrogant. Science fosters humility; it shows that their is a world beyond and irrespective of our everyday lives.

Some scientists might accept and admit that they are "gifted," but this is not the meaning of arrogance. Some scientists might be impatient, but this is not the meaning of arrogance. Most scientsts are humble.
Notice how you have changed the discussion from talking about geniuses and "the best" to scientists in general.
Its possible that most scientists are humble as you don't have to be anything great to be a scientist. But if you are going to talk about the geniuses and "the best" then first you must identify them and that might not be so easy.
 
  • #25
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Though I will add: I agree that these so called geniuses aren't necessarily selfish; the rage to master is stronger than the pursuit of recognition.
 
  • #26
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Notice how you have changed the discussion from talking about geniuses and "the best" to scientists in general.
Its possible that most scientists are humble as you don't have to be anything great to be a scientist. But if you are going to talk about the geniuses and "the best" then first you must identify them and that might not be so easy.
I admit I shouldn't have used the vague term "the best" and should have simply stuck to the general case (second post). But what I meant were the obvious greats: Galilelo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger. At any rate, it's clear that the transition I made was not meant to be deceptive in any way.
 
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  • #27
symbolipoint
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No matter how good at something you are, someone else will be better. When you think you find the best, he still isn't so because someone else is still better.

You MUST have the motivation for a subject to study and practice it far more than any official academic course requirements; if you do this, then you have a chance to become excellent, or if you have talent, maybe fantastic. If you are fantastic at what you have been studying and practicing, then maybe you are ONE OF THE BEST.

Hey, MATHWONK: If you have a pHD in Mathematics, then you must be one of the best at Mathematics.
 
  • #28
mathwonk
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ill buy that!
 
  • #29
mathwonk
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let me suggest to young persons out there, that what it takes to have fun, is to forget about being the best, and to enjoy doing productive work.

I had a great time talking to better people than me, (their number is legion), and it made me better, but you have to be able to enjoy the math, and not self destruct when david mumford or phillip griffiths or heisuke hironaka or raoul bott or maurice auslander, robert varley, etc, etc,... tells you something it takes you an hour or several years, even to understand.

if you can get past measuring yourself against everyone else, and approach enjoying the shared work, you can really have fun, and you will get better much faster.

i guess i am repeating myself, but if you cannot stand not being the best then you cannot stand being around the people who will make you better. its sort of like when a guy (i still recall his name) beat me at snooker every day for a year, and finally i won one game with a bank in the side. he cursed, called me lucky and would not give me any praise, but i stopped playing him then and went on to become one of the best snooker players in the poolroom.

he enjoyed beating me every day to stroke his ego, and i enjoyed trying to beat him every day because i was improving.
I.e. I got better and he stayed the same. other people have dome the same to me, modestly learning from me and eventually becoming better than me at my own specialty in math. we have to keep moving and as satchel paige said, "don't look back, something might be gaining on you".

to you youngsters, hall of fame fastballer paige signed his rookie contract at age 42 with the indians, went 6-1, and played in the majors at age 59.
 
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  • #30
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The Feynman Lectures on Physics including Feynman's Tips on Physics:

how are these books for physics training. i am thinking of buyig them. how much help r they for ipho training? thanks!
 

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