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Why physics? Please guide a highschooler.

  1. Oct 3, 2011 #1
    Ok so I feel sad saying this but I hate my physics class, I hated physics 1 as well. It's not that the concept of explaining the universe doesn't interest me its just that I am bored out of my mind. For context, I love math and proofs and stuff(admittedly I'm not smart enough to even touch it as a career option). My class isn't calc based but I doubt that would pique my interest that much anyway. I'm not sure if I have anything else to say on this, just need some motivation to stop me from disliking physics. Oh and I'm planning on being an engineer as of now.
    So why do you guys love physics, and how long will it take me to get to something more interesting?
    I feel like in math even an idiot can ponder things and get satisfaction from his ideas. Is physics only for geniuses? Is math is just a tool in physics? and so then to what end for the average person?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2011 #2
    Calculus based physics is definitely more interesting than algebra based, especially for electricity and magnetism. But physics didn't really get interesting for me until I took a waves and optics class in college. What are you studying in your physics class? My high school physics class didn't get fun until after the AP test, when we delved into programming, relativity, and built trebuchets.

    Physics is not only for geniuses, it's for anyone who finds it interesting. For me, it's the most intellectually satisfying field. Physics also helps me in my philosophical ventures as well. But it's fine if you want to be an engineer, I know plenty of them who dislike physics too.
  4. Oct 3, 2011 #3
    I love physics because it explains how nature works. I enjoy understanding concepts and sometimes feel uncomfortable when I don't know something that on the surface sounds interesting.

    I do my best to not isolate myself from any subject. My field of study is Computer Science because I get a sense of putting 'knowledge to use'

    NB: Don't hate any subject just because it is hard. Perhaps you had a bad teacher or was directed to poor learning resources. Take your time, relax and study at your own pace and you'll appreciate the beauty of complexity.

    Good luck.
  5. Oct 3, 2011 #4
    Because its BEAUTIFUL. Because it can delve into the deepest fundamental questions of nature!!

    Physics has provided an innumerable for our generations!! Besides the fact that I can send my message to you in an instant of a second to make us able to communicate, it has also given us a huge perspective on the world that we would have never have figured otherwise.

    Pretend you are centuries into the past.. deeply contemplating.. what is up there? .. what is our place in the universe? .. what are we made of? .. how do things work? .. what are these little thunderous flashes that happen when it rains?.. how are we created?

    Physics has helped unravel some of the perplexing and interesting questions in history! But it goes much beyond that today.. once you ponder the fundamental nature of nature.. it becomes that much more exciting! Physics has been constantly unveiling the world right beneath our eyes. The very world that is so hard to appreciate because it is not picked up by our senses.. things such as quantum mechanics and the mystery of gravity. Combining relativity with quantum mechanics is one of the most exciting problems of civilization today.

    And don't forget.. we are able to describe nature around us through mathematics.. Its beautiful! It works with tremendous accuracy! If you don't love physics, you don't love math! You should love physics because IT IS MATH! It is math that peers into the inner workings of nature.

    I can go on and on but I also have to do some homework and things like that. I can easily write you a 10 page essay, trust me.
  6. Oct 4, 2011 #5
    As for myself, I'm a year 9 student in Australia studying in the highest mathematics class, topping physics, and studying at University every Friday.

    You obviously know you're asking a lot of physics 'lovers' why we enjoy it. Simple answer on behalf of most physicists, is we love physics because it links to everything in our universe. Physics is what tells us why things do what they do, and you figure it out YOURSELF. To be able to study this by YOURSELF is just extraordinary, which gives us a huge passion to figure out MORE, and we do it single handed which makes it feel like we are writing the laws of the universe.

    In your case wanting to become an engineer, you obviously have to study physics. You might dislike the subject but think about the ending result more than the now. Think about when you succeed in physics you not only get a great engineering job (and also money, woman, etc) but you get to know a decent amount of how everything 'ticks'.

    PS: My dad is a director for engineering for public school in the ACT (makes heaps of $$), he hates his job, so much work and so on. Unless you have a passion for what you want to do in the future, stop and find the areas you think are the most worth wild. For some people it's just money :P Even for some people it is teaching PE, I know crazy..
  7. Oct 4, 2011 #6
    Wow, thanks for the many replies. Its nice to know that when you go on a physics forum you can get passionate statements of why physics is awesome.

    By the way I don't hate physics, in fact I feel I should love it due to me loving math and physics being a wonderful application of that.

    So another question that was somewhat in my original post. What kinds of things should someone who is in AP-level physics find fun? The confirmation of theories with experiments?

    Of course higher level people can just contemplate the unification of relativity and quantum mechanics using obscenely complicated stuff
  8. Oct 4, 2011 #7
    Nice alias. Love kumquats!

    Back to your post... You can't tell someone what you think should be fun for them :approve: the fun part should just come to you naturally.

    All I can suggest if you are "trying" to make it fun or interesting is to watch lots physics documentaries, read lots of physics articles, Browse PhysicsForums more :cool: it might just spark something within.

    Good luck!
  9. Oct 4, 2011 #8
    Good advice, I would take it seriously if I was you.

    Well, a lot of people see classical mechanics (what your probably studying right now?) to be boring. I for one thought it was amazing.. the fact that we can predict and describe nature around us with math was an almost stunning revelation at first. The beauty still holds.

    If you have an appreciation for math, you might like classical mechanics. Some people enjoy the second semester of classical mechanics (optics & waves), and most would say that they found quantum mechanics to be pretty interesting.

    While I can't tell you what you like as Gregj has said, I just supplied you with some generalized probabilities. Your in charge of your own mind, don't forget that you can influence it. I would recommend to follow what Greg has stated.
  10. Oct 5, 2011 #9
    for me it wasn't anything as grand as "explaining the universe" that caught my attention when I was at school. It was the everyday stuff you notice as you go about your daily business - the more I studied the subject, the more I'd notice what we'd learned cropping up everywhere you go. You can't go anywhere or do anything without seeing something that will remind you of some aspect of physics, it gives you endless ways to daydream. It gives you an appreciation of things you were completely ignorant of beforehand, the understanding just enriches your whole experience of the world I think. What keeps me motivated to carry on studying it is that I'm aware that I'm still ignorant of so much.
    No other subject can give you this in such a broad manner, every other subject is too narrow. Physics is the daddy of all the sciences. There is much, much more to the world than meets the eye, the stuff people have been able to figure out and make use of using the techniques of physics is staggering. I have no doubt I'd be living a much more empty existence if I hadn't stuck with it, and it does get better the deeper you go into it. I'd even go as far as saying it's beyond a just an educational subject, it's a mindset/mentality that you refine the more you study it.

    And it's not just for geniuses either. I'm not a genius in any sense, infact once upon a time I was the class clown, but I've been able to get as far as currently studying it at PhD level. Mathematics is a crucial tool but again, anyone can do school & university mathematics, all it involves is practice. It's just learning a few rules and practicing them enough to be able to apply them rigourously. Once you do enough mathematics it becomes automatic, you don't have to put any real mental effort into doing it. Infact I'd say physics is the most interesting use of maths. I think the term "genius" is for the people who have been imaginative enough to come up with new physics, ie. iapplying the mathematics they have learned to describe how some system evolves, and being proven right where everyone else either fails or doesn't even consider looking.
    No one expects that of you in school though. You don't have to come up with some earth shattering new theory, you just have to follow what other people have laid out, and it's all manageable if you approach it with patience. You don't learn it in massive leaps, you take baby steps that anyone can do if they want to.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  11. Oct 6, 2011 #10
    I hated physics in high school as well.

    I studied it in college because it was reputed to be hard and I had credits to fill. Furthermore, I studied the subject as a means to an end, rather than because I loved the subject. However, in college I did discover that mathematics is beautiful and gives one a "sense of being more than man."

    I'm curious, is there a particular reason why you feel you should like physics? Why do you want to be an engineer?

    The problem with most high school physics courses is that they are trivial and boring and designed so students who do not even understand the very basic ideas can still pass with a C.
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