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Offline Dege

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hello, i would like to be a Theoretical Physicist when i get older. i am jus now entering high school and i was wonderin what are the backgrounds needed to understand such things as super string theory, quantium field theory and ect.? please reply.thanks


 

Offline exton

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what are the backgrounds needed to be a physicist
« Reply #1 on: 28/07/2009 05:43:01 »
Math, mostly. Lots and lots of math.
First you should get a solid handle on high school algebra. After that, calculus. After that, multivariable calculus and differential equations. And then linear algebra.

That's what you'll need to deal with quantum mechanics and such. I couldn't tell you what's involved in string theory.

The important thing in learning about math is to avoid feeling daunted by it. A lot of math learning involves large amounts of obscure jargon. The best way to learn is go step by step, and to practice.
 

Offline Ophiolite

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« Reply #2 on: 28/07/2009 06:34:13 »
Exactly as exton said. Maths, maths then some more maths, topped up with maths, and always some maths on the side. I've heard physicists say they do more maths than the mathematicians.  :)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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« Reply #3 on: 28/07/2009 06:35:28 »
And that is why I am a klutz at physics.
 

Offline Dege

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« Reply #4 on: 28/07/2009 14:38:27 »
haha thanks guys. i gues i need to get started on all that math right away. ha thanks again
 

Offline Pmb

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« Reply #5 on: 28/07/2009 18:46:45 »
If youíre just entering high school then I recommend taking the obvious courses, i.e. chemistry and physics. Then, as emphasized above, study math. To be precise, take geometry, algebra, trigonometry and calculus. If they offer statistics then take that too. Computer courses are also important. To become a physicist you have to take so much math as an undergraduate that if you take math courses for your electives then you can get a second major in math. Thatís what I did.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #6 on: 28/07/2009 19:08:05 »
I'm not sure the importance of maths has been stressed enough here.
 

Offline Dege

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« Reply #7 on: 28/07/2009 19:52:13 »
ok pmb, thanks, now does anyone have any likns that can help wit all that math so that i may can teach myself some of it.
 

Offline techmind

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what are the backgrounds needed to be a physicist
« Reply #8 on: 28/07/2009 22:33:02 »
hello, i would like to be a Theoretical Physicist when i get older. i am jus now entering high school and i was wonderin what are the backgrounds needed to understand such things as super string theory, quantium field theory and ect.? please reply.thanks


Each to their own, but I think being an experimental physicist is much more fun.  [8D]

Less maths (but still plenty enough to make it rigourous), but more lab.

The biggest problem is that the majority of school-teachers don't seem to be confident in the practical work so it gains a reputation as being things that don't work or can't be explained properly.  >:(

You need a good eye for detail, the ability to become an impartial observer i.e. to see what is really happening, rather than merely what you want or hope or expect to see. A dogged determination to get to the bottom of things. An awareness of when explanations or mental-models of something don't quite add up, or contradict what you already know. It's not always realistic due to time-pressures to resolve these when they first crop up, but it's worth being uneasy about them so you can investigate/read/test when more time is available.

Be constantly alert to anything which contradicts or violates your understanding or expectation. This is a "learning opportunity": - a sign that either your understanding is mistaken (and needs reviewing), something else is going on which you hadn't realised (which might be some other physical effect, or a malfunctioning bit of equipment), or you've discovered something new!


A theoretical physicist will almost certainly need some computer-programming skills, and for an experimental physicist the skill is very useful too.

Don't have a blind faith in computers, software, or lab-equipment!


The physical reality is always right (although the experiment might be flawed).
« Last Edit: 28/07/2009 22:52:21 by techmind »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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« Reply #9 on: 28/07/2009 23:20:55 »
A really good and readable book about mathematics is  "The road To Reality"  By Roger Penrose.  it gives a full insight into mathematics from basic numbers right up to and beyond calculus, complex and hyprcomplex  numbers relativity and string theory. It is not a formal text book but it does include exercises that you can do yourself to help your understanding.

Most mathematical textbooks are desperately terse and mostly written in mathematical language and therefore not very easy to read and enjoy unless you really have a passion for equations and proofs.  Roger Penrose's book includes the words and explanations of the thinking behind what is going on.
 

Offline Dege

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« Reply #10 on: 29/07/2009 01:07:00 »
thanks guys any thing else someone would like to tell me about
 

Offline Pmb

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« Reply #11 on: 29/07/2009 03:39:41 »
ok pmb, thanks, now does anyone have any likns that can help wit all that math so that i may can teach myself some of it.
Thereís no substitute for a textbook but if youíd like you can search using Google. I assume that so far you havenít even learned algebra yet, correct? I did a search for you and hereís what I found as an example of where to start

http://www.wtamu.edu/academic/anns/mps/math/mathlab/
 

Offline Dege

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« Reply #12 on: 29/07/2009 05:51:02 »
no, in school we have only covered the basics but i have taught myself basic trig, and and very little phisics
 

Offline techmind

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« Reply #13 on: 29/07/2009 20:18:56 »
I'd been computer-programming with loops and variables and whatever for about 2 years before they started teaching us algebra at school.
I don't think my teacher realised why I wanted to call my variables with meaningful names rather than just a,b,c, x,y,z etc. She just thought I was being awkward. ;D
 

Offline Pmb

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« Reply #14 on: 29/07/2009 20:48:36 »
I'd been computer-programming with loops and variables and whatever for about 2 years before they started teaching us algebra at school.
I don't think my teacher realised why I wanted to call my variables with meaningful names rather than just a,b,c, x,y,z etc. She just thought I was being awkward. ;D
That's a useful thing to do when programming a computer. Itís an awkward thing to do with math. Each for good reasons.
 

Offline Dege

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what are the backgrounds needed to be a physicist
« Reply #15 on: 30/07/2009 03:48:08 »
 
I'd been computer-programming with loops and variables and whatever for about 2 years before they started teaching us algebra at school.
I don't think my teacher realised why I wanted to call my variables with meaningful names rather than just a,b,c, x,y,z etc. She just thought I was being awkward. ;D

haha, i have been making explosives and deeling with raidioactive materials for about a year, so since i was like 13. lol it helps past the time  ;D
 

Offline lil_muz

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what are the backgrounds needed to be a physicist
« Reply #16 on: 16/08/2009 10:29:10 »
math = physic.... everyting about logic...
 

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