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Thread: How do you Physicists view numbers?

  1. #1 How do you Physicists view numbers? 
    Forum Junior AndresKiani's Avatar
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    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?


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    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?
    Math IS the language of physics. No math, no physics.


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    Forum Junior AndresKiani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?
    Math IS the language of physics. No math, no physics.
    How well do you understand math. Is it like another language to you? Or is it something that you have to keep refreshing yourself with.
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    Forum Junior AndresKiani's Avatar
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    Do you literally think in math as you would think in English or French.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    Do you literally think in math as you would think in English or French.
    When I write a paper, I write all the formulas first, with no text whatsoever. Only after that , I add the text. I don't know if this answers your question.
    Last edited by Howard Roark; September 5th, 2014 at 06:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    Do you literally think in math as you would think in English or French.
    When I write a paper, I write all the formulas firs, with no text whatsoever. Only after that , I add the text. I don't know if this answers your question.
    Very good example. Thank you.

    My physics teacher would have us write lab reports and papers in pure graphs and math.

    Our papers for that class would look like a bunch of graphs, some sketches, formulas, and how we used them to describe a situation.

    Our discussion portion would look like:

    See Graph ii. See Graph iii.. Let me see if I still have some of my old Physics lab reports from last year.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    Do you literally think in math as you would think in English or French.
    When I write a paper, I write all the formulas firs, with no text whatsoever. Only after that , I add the text. I don't know if this answers your question.
    Very good example. Thank you.

    My physics teacher would have us write lab reports and papers in pure graphs and math.

    Our papers for that class would look like a bunch of graphs, some sketches, formulas, and how we used them to describe a situation.

    Our discussion portion would look like:

    See Graph ii. See Graph iii.. Let me see if I still have some of my old Physics lab reports from last year.
    My kind of teacher :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?
    There is so much math that a physicist must understand that his requirements are close to that of a math major. That's why instead of taking basket weaving as my selective courses I took math courses and got a second major. I was and am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani
    Do you literally think in math as you would think in English or French.
    Sometimes, as in the laws of physics, I think of what the math is doing, not simply what an equation is merely stating. When I'm solving equations I use procedures that I learned and memorized in school and during my career.

    There's one thing that many physicists, such as myself, keep in mind and that's what's called Wheeler's First Moral Principle which states
    The Anatomy of CollaborationEdwin F. Taylor
    Wheeler's First Moral Principle says, "Never do a calculation without knowing the answer." He urged his students to make first an estimate before every evaluation and to try a simple physical argument before every derivation. A right guess will reinforce intuition, while a wrong guess will bring new insights. This way of developing intuition should indeed be a guiding principle for all serious students of physics.
    As far as difficulty goes - No problem. I've been very good at it. That's math though. When it comes to arithmetic I'm terrible. Odd, huh?
    Last edited by physicist; September 6th, 2014 at 12:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    I was am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.
    Modest, too :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    I was am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.
    Modest, too :-)
    ....not to mention how those poor old basket weavers are feeling right now. :-)
    Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur
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    Quote Originally Posted by Implicate Order View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    I was am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.
    Modest, too :-)
    ....not to mention how those poor old basket weavers are feeling right now. :-)
    I took basket weaving in school, it was fun! :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?
    There is so much math that a physicist must understand that his requirements are close to that of a math major. That's why instead of taking basket weaving as my selective courses I took math courses and got a second major.
    That's pretty much why I got a double major in math and computer science. The two are very close, at least on their theoretical sides.

    And I don't think math (or programming) is difficult for anyone. I think most people just make it difficult on themselves. They expect it to be some arcane, difficult thing that it's okay if they never learn, but it really isn't. Math is the study of patterns, and patterns are everywhere.

    That said, I can't do much arithmetic in my head. I at least need paper and pencil (though I mostly just use a calculator).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    I was am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.
    Modest, too :-)
    I mentioned it because he seemed to want to know about us and how well physicists understand math. Not necessary from my perspective but I try no to assume what might help others. To me it's merely an empirical fact and not something to brag about. That's why I also stated how much I suck at arithmatic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    I was am still am considered to me the best mathematician that college has graduated since 1990.
    Modest, too :-)
    I mentioned it because he seemed to want to know about us and how well physicists understand math. Not necessary from my perspective but I try no to assume what might help others. To me it's merely an empirical fact and not something to brag about. That's why I also stated how much I suck at arithmatic.
    What is "arithmatic"? Something that you take for heart problems or for rheumatism?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AndresKiani View Post
    How do you Physicists numbers? Has math ever been difficult for you guys? Or is math like a second language?
    There is so much math that a physicist must understand that his requirements are close to that of a math major. That's why instead of taking basket weaving as my selective courses I took math courses and got a second major.
    That's pretty much why I got a double major in math and computer science. The two are very close, at least on their theoretical sides.

    And I don't think math (or programming) is difficult for anyone. I think most people just make it difficult on themselves. They expect it to be some arcane, difficult thing that it's okay if they never learn, but it really isn't. Math is the study of patterns, and patterns are everywhere.

    That said, I can't do much arithmetic in my head. I at least need paper and pencil (though I mostly just use a calculator).
    Around a year ago I could do triple digit division/multiplication in my head faster than Josey Wales could pull out a calculator. Now I struggle doing a %20 tip in my head under 10 seconds (and I eat at sleazy cheap places too...) I would say that the barriers in math are constructed primarily by those trying to learn it, and the only way to deconstruct said barriers would be to accept that math, like any other field, requires diligence and practice.
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    Just a carpenter here and not a mathematician.

    Asking how a person views just numbers is a bit limiting because math is a language. It is not just the numbers but the equations they are inside of too.
    In other words it is also about how the numbers are related to each other.
    Just like sentences have grammar math has grammar.
    Sometimes you can look at a sentence and just by how the words are strung together and the context you can get some idea of the meaning, even if the meanings of the words by themselves is confusing. Sometimes words even have different meaning depending on the context.

    Sometimes just by looking at the shape of an equation and having the context (application) you can have an idea of roughly what it should mean before you even start doing the calculations.
    Last edited by dan hunter; September 10th, 2014 at 04:03 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka
    That said, I can't do much arithmetic in my head. I at least need paper and pencil (though I mostly just use a calculator).
    Around a year ago I could do triple digit division/multiplication in my head faster than Josey Wales could pull out a calculator. Now I struggle doing a %20 tip in my head under 10 seconds (and I eat at sleazy cheap places too...) I would say that the barriers in math are constructed primarily by those trying to learn it, and the only way to deconstruct said barriers would be to accept that math, like any other field, requires diligence and practice.[/QUOTE]

    You started off correctly by referring to arithmetic and then ended up talking about math. They're not the same. I'm good at math but horrible at arithmetic. Strictly speaking, arithmetic is a branch of math.

    See:
    Arithmetic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Mathematics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka
    That said, I can't do much arithmetic in my head. I at least need paper and pencil (though I mostly just use a calculator).
    Around a year ago I could do triple digit division/multiplication in my head faster than Josey Wales could pull out a calculator. Now I struggle doing a %20 tip in my head under 10 seconds (and I eat at sleazy cheap places too...) I would say that the barriers in math are constructed primarily by those trying to learn it, and the only way to deconstruct said barriers would be to accept that math, like any other field, requires diligence and practice.
    You started off correctly by referring to arithmetic and then ended up talking about math. They're not the same. I'm good at math but horrible at arithmetic. Strictly speaking, arithmetic is a branch of math.

    See:
    Arithmetic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Mathematics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This is an older thread, a month so, but it is so important I thought to add to the discussion.

    Mathematics has been called a language and is of counting. As the above links state, the definition varies, but arithmetic is a type of mathematics.

    Further, you can simplify mathematics into very easy English/French/etc.


    For example, "1 + 2 = 3" becomes "One and two is three." (or "One and two equals three" etc.) You see, same statement, different symbols! English or math characters are used. We can and do mix them up together, to complicate. I guess one can do this on the highest level available, providing there is time.

    Of course people good at math do this automatically, just like a child in Gibraltar grows up speaking both Spanish and English as to even mix them all up in a sentence with the greatest of ease, unlike most adult learners to one of the languages. Mathematically inclined people usually know the symbols very well, and read newly learned ones like a map maker does when reading a key of a cartological source unfamiliar to him.

    This is not always true, if what I hear is true insofar as new discoveries in math: For new territory found in such an examined subject, the only ones having much success are either a discover of exceptional brilliance in thought OR extremely stupid but having an iron but. The latter uses persistence and very close attention to detail for success. Unfortunately, few jobs are initially available for those who are discoverers, much less those who are slow to achieve results. But the point is that just because the information does not come naturally and easily, if you are persistent enough there is opportunity. Good luck to you.
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    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Physicists view numbers the same way everyone else does, only without the tears.
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