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Hobbes's avatar

Should I drop this Physics course?

Asked by Hobbes (7355points) September 4th, 2008

I’m currently taking a Physics course called “Spacetime, Quanta and Cosmology”. Now, I like science – or rather I like learning about the discoveries science makes. However, I have rapidly learned that the actual doing of science, or at least physics, is much less enjoyable.

The class so far has involved reading a very dense textbook in an attempt to understand relativity, followed by rather mind-bending math. Occasionally, I’ll get a flash of understanding (when I got my head around the idea that there’s no difference between saying that a boat moves past the water and that the water moves past a boat, it blew my mind a little).

I don’t want to give up on something simply because it’s difficult, I’m just wondering whether the 10% of the class that’s interesting is worth the 90% that’s not.

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8 Answers

Allure1887's avatar

Well, if it’s truly and completely unenjoyable, then don’t take it.
But if part of you finds it interesting, then you can try asking around, looking things up on the internet after reading the text book to try to get a better grasp on the material.
If it’s affecting how you do in your other classes you may want to drop it.
You can study it independently later if you’d really like to.

If worse comes to worse do eenie-meenie-minie-mo between your options.
If you’re disappointed with the outcome choose the other one.

gailcalled's avatar

Do you still have time to change to a more descriptive science course, if you don’t need the quantitative kind for a concentration or career? I would follow your instincts. Many colleges and universities in the states let you try on some courses at the beginning of term.

What about a nice “HIstory of Physics”?

shilolo's avatar

Maybe you should pick up Stephen Hawking’s book, The Illustratred A Brief History of Time. It might make the class more enjoyable, as his popular writing is easier to get through than most dense physics texts.

marinelife's avatar

If you don’t need a working knowledge of physics for your field, I suggest that this is not the best course to take for audit or overview purposes.

gailcalled's avatar

And if you stick with the course, wouldn’t there be math questions on the tests and exams? Celestial mechanics and quantum physics can’t be taught seriously as just descriptive subjects.

cyndyh's avatar

It sounds like you’re not ready for the course. You may need something else to get you from where you’re at to the level of the course. At this point in the semester nothing should seem all that difficult yet—if you’re ready to take that course.

Skyrail's avatar

It’s one of the reasons I decided not to do physics at university. As interesting as I find many things are in physics (for instance, nuclear fusion, fission, some other particle stuff) a large number of course did stuff that didn’t appeal to me, a lot of theoretical stuff, which to a certain extent is interesting, but I’d rather think, use physics and put stuff into practice. Which is why I like engineering. More specifically electrical or even better nuclear engineering which include quite in depth bits of physics but bring it all to a practical use. Physicists discover the physics, engineers use the physics. Awesome stuff.

The stuff you’re doing sounds interesting to a certain level, but beyond that I don’t think I personally could just sit around reading about it. I’d want to take the physics I learn about and apply it, I don’t know what you’re like though. If you don’t enjoy it, and don’t think you will take much useful away from it then don’t do it. Are there any other alternative courses that you may be able to take that challenges your mind still but is interesting?

Jreemy's avatar

1. Do you need the course
2. Are you receiving poor grades in the class
3. Would it actually be worthwhile to complete the course

I personally enjoy studying the theoretical part of physics and then applying it. but if you are only into the theory part, you might try something that is less hands on, try to avoid labs I suppose. I hear Black Mesa has some openings in the fields of Theoretical Physics. All joking aside, however, you might see what other courses the school offers and see if they are more theory based.

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