- #1

Orson

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For a major or This could be related to career as well.

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- Thread starter Orson
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- #1

Orson

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For a major or This could be related to career as well.

- #2

Dopplershift

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I chose physics because I was curious on why and how things work in the universe.

- #3

blue_leaf77

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I doubt that.You cannot study math without knowledge of physics

- #4

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The tutorial in physics had been scheduled at 8 a.m.

- #5

Crass_Oscillator

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- #6

dkotschessaa

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I also liked the fact that it doesn't rely on experimentation but on pure reasoning, so you can do math or think about it anytime any where.

- #7

Mark44

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You cannot study math without knowledge of physics

As do I. There are many areas of mathematics that have no connection to physics.I doubt that.

- #8

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I enjoyed physics more.

- #9

symbolipoint

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Physics is a basic scientific area in which the Mathematics you study really becomes alive. This is why "Physics is good for you", even if you don't really need it for Mathematics.As do I. There are many areas of mathematics that have no connection to physics.

- #10

Crek

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- #11

dkotschessaa

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I always thought engineering looked more difficult than math or physics, because not only do you need to know math and physics, but you have to be able to do something useful with it. Whenever I saw the engineering majors at work, it looked like a lot of..well..work!

-Dave K

- #12

Crek

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I always thought engineering looked more difficult than math or physics, because not only do you need to know math and physics, but you have to be able to do something useful with it. Whenever I saw the engineering majors at work, it looked like a lot of..well..work!

-Dave K

Engineering is based upon the principle of abstraction. Make good enough approximations, internal functioning doesn't really matter. Example: I don't know anything about semiconductor physics or semiconductor manufacturing but I make circuits using transistors because there exists a simplified abstract model which describes the device under the range of conditions I am interested in.

I would say engineering is closer to mathematics then physics actually.

- #13

gleem

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I had always looked at math as a means to and end, what can I use it for.

- #14

Dopplershift

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I doubt that.

Have you ever taken a mathematical modeling course. The laws of physics apply there when modeling physical applications.

- #15

blue_leaf77

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No I have not, but mathematics is not only about modelling physical phenomena, is it? Logic and algebra for instance, they need only a fine reasoning to work.Have you ever taken a mathematical modeling course.

- #16

George Jones

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You cannot study math without knowledge of physics

This is not true.

- #17

dkotschessaa

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This is not true.

Indeed it is not, and I stand as a living testament to this fact, as do numerous mathematicians.

Curious what @Dopplershift means by the statement. Probably something different than what he is actually saying.

- #18

Elvis 123456789

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- #19

Dragon27

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That is what all scientific discipline based upon. When a physicist solves a simple Atwood machine problem, he doesn't reason from first principles (even if his knows them - a beginning physicist does not - that would be downright madness), he reasons with high-level abstractions. And those high-level abstractions are built on the whole hierarchy of abstractions that go all the way down to the most basic, most fundamental physics theories. And the first principles that await us at the bottom of this hierarchy ladder... is just another bunch of abstractions.Engineering is based upon the principle of abstraction.

- #20

collinsmark

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[...] You cannot study math without knowledge of physics and [...]

I doubt that.

This is not true.

Indeed it is not, and I stand as a living testament to this fact, as do numerous mathematicians.

Perhaps we can agree that at least from a historical point of view, mathematics and physics have some considerable overlap when it comes to their incremental discoveries/inventions. Some mathematical discoveries/inventions were made in the process of investigating physical phenomena (e.g. Newton's calculus), and some physical theories emerged by examining the underlying mathematics (e.g. Dirac's antimatter).

Heck, there is also some overlap between engineering and mathematics in certain mathematical discoveries/inventions. The mathematical fields of Information Theory and Digital Signal Processing fall into the realm of mathematics from start to finish, but it was and is engineering behind the driving force of their discoveries/inventions. (These fields are often taught and researched in the Engineering departments in universities, even though the fields are technically, purely mathematical.)

Of course it goes without saying that engineering and physics have some overlap. No need to say more on that.

[Edit: Corrected a quotation (I had copied and pasted the wrong part of the original quote).]

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- #21

dkotschessaa

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Perhaps we can agree that at least from a historical point of view, mathematics and physics have some considerable overlap when it comes to their incremental discoveries/inventions. Some mathematical discoveries/inventions were made in the process of investigating physical phenomena (e.g. Newton's calculus), and some physical theories emerged by examining the underlying mathematics (e.g. Dirac's antimatter).

And this is probably what @Dopplershift mean. Unfortunately it is not what he said.

And actually, I cold argue, if I wanted to, that the way math research is conducted these days is really Greek in flavor. But I won't. :D

-Dave K

- #22

dkotschessaa

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dkotschessaaabout physics being messy, there is also a certain beauty in finding the patterns nested deep inside the mess.

I have no doubt there is, and I have it is clear that my characterization of messiness is an aesthetic one, i.e. one of taste, and not meant as a categorical statement.

I did some work in mathematical biology where we used differential equations to model tumor growth. Talk about messy. But I have to admit that the more I stared at the equations the more they kind of grew on me and I came to consider them beautiful ways of describing this particular system. So I imagine much of physics can be like that.

(Although I think I can do it better with cellular automata!)

-Dave K

- #23

blue_leaf77

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Alright, to initiate the return to the original question, I will start by providing my answer. In my case, I was suggested by my mother to enter physics department on the ground that someone in our family had previously went to this department and now is having a prosperous life - she wanted me to follow his path. Although now our field of expertise is entirely different, he is in oil exploration while I am in atomic physics. My own choice at that time was not physics, I was inclined more towards either engineering or graphics and design. Math was not even among those I considered to enroll to. Despite not being my honest decision, being in physics major is fun. In physics you can get the access to both theory and experiment (I guess in pure math, no one ever talks about experiment). One of the joys, to me, is when seeing two curves one from experiment another from theoretical model that exhibits very good agreement. All the more if I were the one who produce both curves.

- #24

Crass_Oscillator

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can't you have your cake and eat it too by becoming adkotschessaa,also view mathematics as more "pure" and more "perfect" than physics. On the one hand, there is physics which appears more superficially interesting and inspired, and on the other is mathematics, which to me, follows in the tradition of Plato's world of forms-something that transcends reality, something that transcends physics. Mathematics seems to me to be a truly sublime and magnificent edifice, beautiful and deep, yet elusive. Physics comes a lot more naturally to me, not to say that it is easy which it certainly isn't, but it seems to suit my mode of thought more than does mathematics. Although I agree once again with

dkotschessaaabout physics being messy, there is also a certain beauty in finding the patterns nested deep inside the mess.

- #25

Orson

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What beauty do you see in proofs?

- #26

Orson

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Can you guys expand on that?

- #27

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Well, I think one could write complete books dedicated to this question. I find an easy answer is the following:

Can you guys expand on that?

What do we commonly regard as beautiful?

Let's start with a subject that is innocuous: music. Sooner or later we will end up with cadences, which are patterns of symmetry and repetition. And both can be physically as well as mathematically described by the same means: symmetries and repetitions. They might be called interference, frequency or symmetry group, but this only changes language, not the underlying principle. And I think it generally pleases us, if we somehow recognize those patterns, whether intuitively with our ears or intellectually by mind.

- #28

dkotschessaa

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Well, I think one could write complete books dedicated to this question. I find an easy answer is the following:

What do we commonly regard as beautiful?

Let's start with a subject that is innocuous: music. Sooner or later we will end up with cadences, which are patterns of symmetry and repetition. And both can be physically as well as mathematically described by the same means: symmetries and repetitions. They might be called interference, frequency or symmetry group, but this only changes language, not the underlying principle. And I think it generally pleases us, if we somehow recognize those patterns, whether intuitively with our ears or intellectually by mind.

Before I got into math I was a music major (ran out of money for that years ago). I played jazz guitar for 10 years, then 10 years of classical guitar. Then I didn't play as much and got into math. So really I consider myself a musician, but I do it without the notes now. :)

- #29

vela

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I think that describes how I ended up pursuing physics in the end over math. When I was an undergrad, I read many books on physics and math. One thing I noticed was I just didn't identify with the joy mathematicians seemed to find in their subject, whereas I was really drawn to the the ideas and concepts of physics, particularly in particle physics and cosmology. I was driven to learn about physics at a more technical level whereas I never felt that way about most topics in math. That said, I've really enjoyed and found interesting almost all of the math classes I've taken. I would hope you don't see it really as an either-or choice, but as two subjects that complement each other.

Can you guys expand on that?

- #30

Wastrophysicist

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I think Mathematics was discovered/invented because of the study of the world. If we hadn't studied and observed the world first, I doubt if we would get to mathematics. There is no defined frontier between Mathematics & Physics. "For some results or discoveries, it is difficult to say to which area they belong: to the mathematics or to physics" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_mathematics_and_physics#Philosophical_problems).I doubt that.

"At this point an enigma presents itself which in all ages has agitated inquiring minds. How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?" —Albert Einstein, in

- #31

dkotschessaa

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I think Mathematics was discovered/invented because of the study of the world.

Almost. Much like early writing, math's origins are in the exceedingly dull and practical world of counting and measuring for property and taxation. Early societies didn't have the luxury of doing science, but they did want land and money (in the form form of livestock and such). The Egyptians and Babylonians did figure out that math could be fun and put a few recreational problems in their teaching material, but mostly it was the Greeks who took it to the next level of abstraction.

-Dave K

- #32

I thought briefly about becoming a math major. But I decided to major in physics because I liked science fiction when I was growing up, and I was fascinated by space travel, radioactivity, nuclear power, lasers, SETI, gravity, relativity, particle accelerators, time travel, warp drives, transporters, antimatter, electron microscopes, holography, and so on.

I saw that physicists got to build and work with amazing devices. I love the way physics allows us to uncover nature's secrets so that the world is no longer so mysterious, and we can control it to some extent. By the time I was at university I also hoped that physics would answer the whole "meaning of life" question or at least enable us to contact aliens who know more than we do.

As for the whole beauty thing, that is not my motivation, but I do admit I am attracted to equations that can explain nature and in fact even looking at equations is a bit of an emotional experience. Consider Maxwell's equations, for example. Even the symbols are beautiful. Writing them is such a pleasure. I particularly like calculus and differential equations. This is one reason I don't like working with computers even though I must at times. I miss that hands-on experience of writing equations or drawing diagrams with a pen or pencil.

I enjoy pure math to some extent, but I really only care about math because it is the language of physics. I don't like solving puzzles just as an intellectual exercise. In other words in physics I get the thrill that comes from knowledge, but not just any knowledge. It's the knowledge that leads to nuclear power, for example.

To sum up, I want to understand how nature works and at least to some extent get control over it and bend it to my will.

I saw that physicists got to build and work with amazing devices. I love the way physics allows us to uncover nature's secrets so that the world is no longer so mysterious, and we can control it to some extent. By the time I was at university I also hoped that physics would answer the whole "meaning of life" question or at least enable us to contact aliens who know more than we do.

As for the whole beauty thing, that is not my motivation, but I do admit I am attracted to equations that can explain nature and in fact even looking at equations is a bit of an emotional experience. Consider Maxwell's equations, for example. Even the symbols are beautiful. Writing them is such a pleasure. I particularly like calculus and differential equations. This is one reason I don't like working with computers even though I must at times. I miss that hands-on experience of writing equations or drawing diagrams with a pen or pencil.

I enjoy pure math to some extent, but I really only care about math because it is the language of physics. I don't like solving puzzles just as an intellectual exercise. In other words in physics I get the thrill that comes from knowledge, but not just any knowledge. It's the knowledge that leads to nuclear power, for example.

To sum up, I want to understand how nature works and at least to some extent get control over it and bend it to my will.

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- #33

blue_leaf77

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I am not well informed about such history but even if that's true, it doesn't change the fact thatI think Mathematics was discovered/invented because of the study of the world.

- #34

dkotschessaa

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I am not well informed about such history but even if that's true, it doesn't change the fact thattodayyou can study math without knowing physics.

As I said, math was invented for accounting. Fortunately you can study math without that too. :D

-Dave K

- #35

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My personal understatement of the day!As I said, math was invented for accounting.Fortunatelyyou can study math without that too. :D

-Dave K

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