Is Physics challenging?
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16-07-2013, 03:08 PM
Question Is Physics challenging?
Ok, so I have had a fascination with space since I was about 6 years old, and since then I have planned to have some sort of job involving astronomy/cosmology.

I am getting ever closer to college, and I figured (and most people agree) that I should get a degree in physics so that I can open up some job opportunities for myself (physics opens windows to cosmology and astronomy). My dream job is to do research about the depths of space with a group of others.

What I was really wondering is how challenging it would be to get a PhD in physics.

I am really good at math (straight A's) and can learn anything I put my mind to (without help from a tutor), and I know how much math physics actually involves (all of it, including calculus).

So, how challenging do you guys think it would be? Is this the right field to go into? Tell me what you think.

Thanks.
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16-07-2013, 03:12 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
I am a physicist.

Some people seem to think it's difficult (a LOT of people have said to me, "I could never do that!"). I dunno; I'm a pretty smart guy. Past a certain point, one is going to be working at the edge of one's ability regardless. Sometimes my work is difficult; sometimes it's not. It's usually interesting, which is all I ask.

How much math have you studied? How old are you?

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16-07-2013, 03:20 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(16-07-2013 03:12 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I am a physicist.

Some people seem to think it's difficult (a LOT of people have said to me, "I could never do that!"). I dunno; I'm a pretty smart guy. Past a certain point, one is going to be working at the edge of one's ability regardless. Sometimes my work is difficult; sometimes it's not. It's usually interesting, which is all I ask.

How much math have you studied? How old are you?

I'm going to be a sophomore this year.
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16-07-2013, 03:20 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
I'm going to go ahead and assume you need a metric-fuck-ton of math (yes the metric-fuck-ton is RTS's unit for measuring maths) and it probably wouldn't hurt to be pretty damn good at programming to boot with all the simulations and number crunching these guys do.

...and I'm pretty sure that cosmology is one of the most competitive/elite fields in physics due to the cost of telescope time.

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16-07-2013, 03:21 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(16-07-2013 03:12 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I am a physicist.

Some people seem to think it's difficult (a LOT of people have said to me, "I could never do that!"). I dunno; I'm a pretty smart guy. Past a certain point, one is going to be working at the edge of one's ability regardless. Sometimes my work is difficult; sometimes it's not. It's usually interesting, which is all I ask.

How much math have you studied? How old are you?

I suck at math -- but I'm going back to college and will have to take it. Undecided

At least now I know who to ask for help Tongue


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16-07-2013, 03:35 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(16-07-2013 03:20 PM)UndercoverAtheist Wrote:  I'm going to be a sophomore this year.

I take it you mean second year of high school? I'll go ahead and assume you're American for now - let me know if I'm wrong!

In Ontario that's when we started learning things like more complicated forms of equations (exponentials and logarithms, solving quadratic and cubic equations), and just started learning about matrices. All of which is utterly foundational. We also had graphing calculator Tetris tournaments. That was fun.

A lot of the math in higher physics is not... hard?

I don't even know how to define hard here. It's not the, er, mathy bits that are hard. It's a matter of problem solving. It's trying to find patterns. Math is a set of tools, once you understand the foundations you can start building something.

(16-07-2013 03:20 PM)ridethespiral Wrote:  I'm going to go ahead and assume you need a metric-fuck-ton of math (yes the metric-fuck-ton is RTS's unit for measuring maths) and it probably wouldn't hurt to be pretty damn good at programming to boot with all the simulations and number crunching these guys do.

...and I'm pretty sure that cosmology is one of the most competitive/elite fields in physics due to the cost of telescope time.

Of course it's metric. It's science Big Grin !

Programming tends to be extraordinarily useful, that's very true.

(16-07-2013 03:21 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  I suck at math -- but I'm going back to college and will have to take it. Undecided

At least now I know who to ask for help Tongue

I don't think anybody really sucks at math. It can be more of a mental block than anything.

Ask me anything, anytime though!

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16-07-2013, 09:54 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(16-07-2013 03:08 PM)UndercoverAtheist Wrote:  Ok, so I have had a fascination with space since I was about 6 years old, and since then I have planned to have some sort of job involving astronomy/cosmology.

I am getting ever closer to college, and I figured (and most people agree) that I should get a degree in physics so that I can open up some job opportunities for myself (physics opens windows to cosmology and astronomy). My dream job is to do research about the depths of space with a group of others.

What I was really wondering is how challenging it would be to get a PhD in physics.

I am really good at math (straight A's) and can learn anything I put my mind to (without help from a tutor), and I know how much math physics actually involves (all of it, including calculus).

So, how challenging do you guys think it would be? Is this the right field to go into? Tell me what you think.

Thanks.

Yes, it's challenging. Very challenging.

Then again, anything worth doing usually is. If you agree with this comment, then go for it.

You should try to get through Calculus in high school if your high school offers AP Calculus. Not having a solid grasp of the math will get in the way of learning the Physics concepts. As cjlr said, the math is just a tool. I think of it as the language of Physics. Math doesn't really help you understand or learn Physics, but you cannot learn Physics unless you know the language.
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17-07-2013, 07:00 AM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(16-07-2013 09:54 PM)BryanS Wrote:  
(16-07-2013 03:08 PM)UndercoverAtheist Wrote:  Ok, so I have had a fascination with space since I was about 6 years old, and since then I have planned to have some sort of job involving astronomy/cosmology.

I am getting ever closer to college, and I figured (and most people agree) that I should get a degree in physics so that I can open up some job opportunities for myself (physics opens windows to cosmology and astronomy). My dream job is to do research about the depths of space with a group of others.

What I was really wondering is how challenging it would be to get a PhD in physics.

I am really good at math (straight A's) and can learn anything I put my mind to (without help from a tutor), and I know how much math physics actually involves (all of it, including calculus).

So, how challenging do you guys think it would be? Is this the right field to go into? Tell me what you think.

Thanks.

Yes, it's challenging. Very challenging.

Then again, anything worth doing usually is. If you agree with this comment, then go for it.

You should try to get through Calculus in high school if your high school offers AP Calculus. Not having a solid grasp of the math will get in the way of learning the Physics concepts. As cjlr said, the math is just a tool. I think of it as the language of Physics. Math doesn't really help you understand or learn Physics, but you cannot learn Physics unless you know the language.

I would quibble with your last statement. For example, understanding integration and differentiation helps to understand mechanics and vice versa.

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20-07-2013, 11:26 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
(17-07-2013 07:00 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(16-07-2013 09:54 PM)BryanS Wrote:  Yes, it's challenging. Very challenging.

Then again, anything worth doing usually is. If you agree with this comment, then go for it.

You should try to get through Calculus in high school if your high school offers AP Calculus. Not having a solid grasp of the math will get in the way of learning the Physics concepts. As cjlr said, the math is just a tool. I think of it as the language of Physics. Math doesn't really help you understand or learn Physics, but you cannot learn Physics unless you know the language.

I would quibble with your last statement. For example, understanding integration and differentiation helps to understand mechanics and vice versa.

"Uhhhhhh.... what's a square inverse?"

Yeah. You need da math.

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20-07-2013, 11:33 PM
RE: Is Physics challenging?
Try to meet someone who works in the field and get to know how it is first hand. I studied one year of physics and quitted because there's more to a career than just the knowledge you need, a career is also lifestyle, so you should try to know how's it going to be your life if you go through with it. Every career has its pros and cons, so don't be disappointed to find things you don't like

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