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What inspired you?

  1. Nov 23, 2015 #1

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    What inspired you to choose the major you are currently doing/did. Was there a certain topic that excited you as a child that lead you to do what you did in school? Perhaps you read about particle-wave duality, and that was enough to spark your interest, or quantum mechanics, or cell division or whatever. What inspired YOU to do what you did academically?

    Was it a specific teacher, person, tv show? Let's here it Physics Forums. I need some inspiration to remember why I chose the path that I am doing now, because some times you just need that little reminder.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2015 #2
    I went to a preview day at my university, looked at some projects the electrical engineering students were doing, said "that looks cool," and majored in electrical engineering.
     
  4. Nov 23, 2015 #3
    I was always fascinated with biology, chemistry, and physics. I ended up choosing physics because it's the most mathematical, and I get a good kick out of solving the problems.
     
  5. Nov 23, 2015 #4
    Relativity. Quantum Mechanics. Lasers. Atoms. The Periodic Table. The Atomic Bomb. Quarks. Quasars.
     
  6. Nov 24, 2015 #5

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    When I was younger in highschool, quantum and my physics teacher is what did it for me. Now what does it for me is when I learn an interesting fact that I can actually apply to real world scenarios.
     
  7. Nov 24, 2015 #6

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    Sounds like some similar responses that I've received from other EE/Robotics majors I've talked to. Seems better then the "I just want to make money" responses.
     
  8. Nov 24, 2015 #7
    What sparked my interest were 2 separate things, 1 was the fact that my country is full of volcanoes and has many earthquakes, the second was Vsauce, so we got earthquakes+physics, i'm studying Geophysics :D
    I know it's far from any "intellectual" reason but it's valid, in my opinion :S
     
  9. Nov 24, 2015 #8

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    As long as it keeps you going and you now enjoy what you're studying, then why not? :oldbiggrin:
     
  10. Nov 26, 2015 #9
    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
     
  11. Nov 26, 2015 #10

    micromass

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    Projective geometry and the mystery of infinity.
     
  12. Nov 26, 2015 #11

    Krylov

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    The qualitative theory of differential equations, i.e. the discovery that you can learn a lot about the behaviour of their solutions merely by studying (but not solving, analytically nor numerically) the equation.
     
  13. Nov 26, 2015 #12

    micromass

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    You did this as a child?
     
  14. Nov 26, 2015 #13

    Krylov

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    No, my reply was with these parts of the original post in mind:
    At the end of my bachelor I was quite demotivated and I did not know what path to choose for my master. Taking a course on the qualitative theory of ODE made me realise where I wanted to go next, and ultimately it determined the direction for the doctorate.
     
  15. Nov 26, 2015 #14

    micromass

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    Oh, alright cool. I wish I had taken such a differential equations course. It's still a huge gap in my knowledge.

    But what inspired you to go into a bachelor in math in the first place?
     
  16. Nov 26, 2015 #15

    Krylov

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    I am somewhat happy and relieved to discover that such gaps exist :wink:
    I started with physics, because in high school I believed that it was the best way to understand the world at its most fundamental level, more than for example chemistry, of which I was also quite fond. I understood that mathematics was useful, but didn't think more of it than a necessary evil.

    During the first year of the physics bachelor, we were taught how to obtain a differential equation from Newton's second law, and how solving this DE allows us to predict the motion of mechanical systems (at first, only those consisting of point masses of course). I think from that moment on I was more or less addicted to the control, clarity and certainty that mathematics is capable of providing.
     
  17. Nov 27, 2015 #16

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    Did teachers have anything to do it during your high school years or even your college years?
     
  18. Nov 27, 2015 #17
    I was that skater punk high schooler who only cared about skating and nothing else. However, I was lucky enough to have a high school teacher who took me under his wing and really changed my perspective on science. He taught a summer bird research class which turned me into a total bird nerd and convinced me to do science. From there I found an interest in physics/optics, did a BS in physics, and now I study the biggest, most interesting optics experiment on the planet -- earthquake seismology and whole-earth oscillations. That teacher has become one of my dearest friends. The funny thing is we're both working on PhDs now...
     
  19. Nov 27, 2015 #18
    I had three biology teachers I really liked, but the chemistry, physics, and math teachers through the years all turned me off until I got to college.

    I chose to major in physics due to my love and fascination for the subject, in spite of the teachers, not because of them.

    In hindsight, I came to appreciate how several of the math teachers upheld appropriate academic rigor.
     
  20. Nov 29, 2015 #19

    RaulTheUCSCSlug

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    Funny how we remember the rigor of the courses, but as time goes on they don't seem as bad as they once were. :oldeyes:
     
  21. Nov 29, 2015 #20
    I was reading something that Isaac Asimov wrote about the mu-meson (muon) traveling so fast that it lasted several lifetimes measured by a person on the Earth, due to time slowing down when moving near light velocity. I was about 12-13 when I read this.

    But I also remember asking my father to read to me a encyclopedia article on atomic energy at about age 5.

    I also remember asking my nine-years older sister to explain to me what I remember to be Bohr-Sommerfeld Theory of Atomic Physics from an encyclopedia when I was about 9. She told me I needed Algebra (not her best subject) to understood this. Little did we know it needed more than 5 years of Math beyond high school algebra.

    At about 10 I remember reading "Our Friend the Atom" I think Walt Disney had something to do with the book. I must have been interested, because later on in a school field trip to the Robert Ginna nuclear facility (before it even opened). the guide asked the audience several questions. I remember answering almost all of them. Later on the teacher introduced me to the guide who told her, that he wanted to meet me.

    Just before my 12 th birthday, I was in the children's section of the public library reading the kids physics and chemistry books. I was bored with the level and went to the librarian and asked could I gen a book from the Adult section. The man (I remember he was probably a older high school or perhaps early college student). He said first I had to answer two questions to see if I was ready. He asked me what is fission. I told him that was when a large atom splits and releases enormous energy. Then he asked me what is fusion. I told him it was when two atoms come together and release even more energy.

    He told me from now on I could use the Adult section. He led me to the book in introductory (Freshman College Level) Physics by Arthur Beiser. It was years beyond me but I did understand the early sections on scientific notation.

    Later that summer, I moved to a new neighborhood and my friend's father was a chemical engineer with Freshman/Sophomore physics books on his bookshelf. His father was surprised when I started to read and his books, while waiting for his son's to have breakfast. I did not understand it all, but I started to discuss some of the early ideas with the father.

    I remember at the end of Eighth grade finding out Electromagnetism was 1/r-squared force just like gravity and Einstein was trying to figure out the connection with a unified field theory. This motivated me.

    Finally, my grades in Chemistry were always better than Physics, but I was always more interested in the deepest structure at the time I started college it was particle physics. I thought once you understood this, everything else would follow. I thought the answer would eventually be very simple.

    I was lucky that my mom and dad always supported me when I wanted Science Kits/ Electrical Kits / Prisms/ and other equipment. They did not necessarily understand it (They grew up in the depression where most people who finished high school did not go to college.), but they encouraged me, although most of my friends were not as scientifically minded, except for model rockets. In my neighborhood rockets were very popular (among boys).
     
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