Notices
Results 1 to 17 of 17
Like Tree5Likes
  • 2 Post By JonG
  • 2 Post By cosmictraveler
  • 1 Post By Kerling

Thread: What's interesting about Physics?

  1. #1 What's interesting about Physics? 
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Manchester, UK
    Posts
    236
    When I was a kid at school, we had Physics lessons which dealt with such things as the transfer of heat, specific heats, ohm's law and simple electrical circuits, Newton's laws of motion, and so on. At the time, little of this seemed at all inspirational. It was mostly a matter of learning a few facts and learning how to do solve certain types of routine problem. But one day, our teacher was telling us about refraction of light - Snell's law and refractive indices - and towards the end of the lesson, he briefly mentioned a completely different way of thinking about refraction. According to Fermat's Principle, light passed through a transparent object such as a block of glass in such a way as to minimize the time taken. A number of us in the class felt that this was extraordinary. It was as if the ray of light was somehow figuring out in advance which way it should travel in order to reach its destination in the shortest time. Clearly, a ray of light couldn't figure anything out - but how did this principle come about?

    It would be interesting to know if anyone else can recall some topic which roused their interest in the subject and led to them studying Physics after leaving school.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,302
    Even though I didn't go on to study physics ( except as a hobby ), for me it was the "Aha !" moment when I first understood the principle of space-time curvature as an explanation for gravity. I found the paradigm shift from Newtonian forces to geometry of space-time most fascinating, and that has stayed with me since.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Senior precious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    304
    i just studied physics to pass. thats all.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    8,795
    Quote Originally Posted by JonG View Post
    When I was a kid at school, we had Physics lessons which dealt with such things as the transfer of heat, specific heats, ohm's law and simple electrical circuits, Newton's laws of motion, and so on. At the time, little of this seemed at all inspirational. .
    I loved all that stuff.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Manchester, UK
    Posts
    236
    I found the paradigm shift from Newtonian forces to geometry of space-time most fascinating, and that has stayed with me since.
    I can see why you were attracted to that. It's amazing how two completely different theories - Newtonian gravitation and General Relativity - can arrive at conclusions that are not identical but very similar. However, I knew nothing or very little of General Relativity until I had left school. Even today, it seems bizarre that one person (Einstein) could have arrived at such a revolutionary theory and published it on his own. As well as exceptional insight, he must have had considerable self-confidence.

    I have found that people become absorbed with Physics for quite different reasons. A colleague was fascinated by thermodynamics, of all things. He liked the way in which it could arrive at conclusions, such as what determines the efficiency of a heat engine, without knowing details of the engine.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Manchester, UK
    Posts
    236
    Harold,

    I was thinking about your comment about heat engines on the "Fuel cycle" thread when I wrote about my friend who was obsessed with thermodynamics. Maybe you are a thermodynamics junkie too :-)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    951
    If you understand the basics you have a foundation to build on
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by JonG View Post
    Even today, it seems bizarre that one person (Einstein) could have arrived at such a revolutionary theory and published it on his own. As well as exceptional insight, he must have had considerable self-confidence.
    I agree, though he drew many of his idea from earlier work by Minkowski, Riemann and Poincare. To this day I am not actually certain whether the concept of space-time curvature was his starting point, or rather a result of the maths after trying to generalise Newtonian gravity.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Manchester, UK
    Posts
    236
    To this day I am not actually certain whether the concept of space-time curvature was his starting point, or rather a result of the maths after trying to generalise Newtonian gravity.

    All I can offer on this is a statement from the Biography of Einstein written by Abraham Pais and entitled "Subtle is the Lord ... the science and the life of Albert Einstein" - a good book:

    Page 211: This is what Einstein said in 1922 - (accelerated) and (physical) inserted by Pais.

    In his Kyoto address (December 1922) he said, " If all (accelerated) systems are equivalent, the Euclidean geometry cannot hold in all of them. To throw out geometry and keep (physical) laws is equivalent to describing thoughts without words. We must search for words before we can express thoughts. What must we search for at this point? This problem remained insoluble to me until 1912, when I suddenly realized that Gauss's theory of surfaces holds the key for unlocking the mystery. I realized that Gauss's surface coordinates had a profound significance. However, I did not know at that time that Riemann had studied the foundations of geometry in an even more profound way. I suddenly remembered that Gauss's theory was contained in the geometry course given by Geiser when I was student ... I realized that the foundations of geometry have physical significance. ...."


    It seems that he first of all realized that Euclidean geometry wasn't up to the job. So he looked around for geometries that might work. So the starting point appears to have been a recognition that Euclidean geometry wasn't adequate and Riemann geometry followed on from that.
    Last edited by JonG; January 12th, 2013 at 01:19 PM.
    Markus Hanke and mvb like this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Key West, Florida, Earth
    Posts
    4,788
    Physics is interesting because I never will understand it therefore it keeps me on my toes as to things that I know little about.
    JonG and Markus Hanke like this.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by JonG View Post

    All I can offer on this is a statement from the Biography of Einstein written by Abraham Pais and entitled "Subtle is the Lord ... the science and the life of Albert Einstein" - a good book:

    Page 211: This is what Einstein said in 1922 - (accelerated) and (physical) inserted by Pais.

    In his Kyoto address (December 1922) he said, " If all (accelerated) systems are equivalent, the Euclidean geometry cannot hold in all of them. To throw out geometry and keep (physical) laws is equivalent to describing thoughts without words. We must search for words before we can express thoughts. What must we search for at this point? This problem remained insoluble to me until 1912, when I suddenly realized that Gauss's theory of surfaces holds the key for unlocking the mystery. I realized that Gauss's surface coordinates had a profound significance. However, I did not know at that time that Riemann had studied the foundations of geometry in an even more profound way. I suddenly remembered that Gauss's theory was contained in the geometry course given by Geiser when I was student ... I realized that the foundations of geometry have physical significance. ...."


    It seems that he first of all realized that Euclidean geometry wasn't up to the job. So he looked around for geometries that might work. So the starting point appears to have been a recognition that Euclidean geometry wasn't adequate and Riemann geometry followed on from that.
    Brilliant, thanks very much JonG. I was not aware of these comments by the man himself
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    New Member Javad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Tehran
    Posts
    2
    i don't know how to describe it...i think the reason i love physics is that it is always explaining the facts that mankind is struggling to find out.every body is seeking the truth and physics explains the truth.i believe that everything can be explained by physics so you can find every answer you need with it...i can't imagine my life without physics.and i started realizing this when i studied laws of Newton in high school.it was the moment i realized:I HAVE TO STUDY PHYSICS
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Bachelors Degree Kerling's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Copenhagen
    Posts
    440
    When I was 15 and had to redo a year (due to poor French, German, Latin) I started readin 'Quantum-mechanics' for beginners (not for dummies) It hooked me, and I have been doing it ever since. I wanted to understand, actually understand how Quantum physics and the world in the view of Quantum Theory worked. So I started doing Quantum Theory before I had thermodynamics etc. It helped. But it took me a Decade before I actually understood it. Yet, it was worth the effort.
    Markus Hanke likes this.
    In the information age ignorance is a choice.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman Vlado's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    15
    “Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself.”

    I love physics because It's a science that's deeply connected with all people, and with everything in this known universe.

    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    ***** Participant Write4U's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,245
    My eureka moment was reading Einstein's narratives of Relativity. It opened a floodgate of real understanding of the concept "relationship", a concept that can be debated on both physical and abstract levels.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Dogbox in front of Dywyddyr's house.
    Posts
    1,785
    I must suggest that you change your title to "What ISN'T interesting about Physics?"
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Bachelors Degree Kerling's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Copenhagen
    Posts
    440
    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka View Post
    I must suggest that you change your title to "What ISN'T interesting about Physics?"
    Looking for a minus sign. definitely looking for a minus sign.
    In the information age ignorance is a choice.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. What are some interesting proteins?
    By jayashae in forum Biology
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: September 11th, 2012, 03:51 PM
  2. iNteresting Situation
    By Heinsbergrelatz in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: June 2nd, 2010, 06:16 PM
  3. An Interesting Physics Paper Required
    By Molecular in forum Physics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: April 16th, 2009, 05:44 PM
  4. Quite interesting
    By Cat1981(England) in forum Links
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: June 10th, 2007, 06:34 PM
  5. Replies: 41
    Last Post: June 18th, 2006, 08:12 AM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •