Published September 2, 2009
Math , Opinion , Physics
Tags: Advice, Math, Physics
So you want to be a physicist? Hey, me too! While I don’t know everything there is to know about getting there, I might be farther along than you are, and have some wisdom that I’ve accrued along the way that I can impart to you, even though you never asked for it. Hence, this series of Unsolicited Advice. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration I got from Cosmic Variance. Plus I borrowed stole the name.)
Since this is Volume I, we’ll start early: before college.
Nurture Your Interest
If you’re reading this, and you’re not yet in college, then I’m willing to bet that you got interested in physics by reading one of the many popular books on physics. It’s a great way to get into physics (it’s the way I got into it all those years ago). You should continue to feed that interest in any way you can: read more books, watch tv specials, and discuss what you’ve learned with anyone who will listen. Continue reading ‘Unsolicited Advice, Volume I’
This past Saturday, Chad at Uncertain Principles wrote a post about the cultural divide between the sciences and the humanities in academia. His main point is captured in this quote (although I recommend that you read the whole post)
Intellectuals and academics are just assumed to have some background knowledge of the arts, and not knowing those things can count against you. Ignorance of math and science is no obstacle, though. I have seen tenured professors of the humanities say– in public faculty discussions, no less– “I’m just no good at math,” without a trace of shame. There is absolutely no expectation that Intellectuals know even basic math.
This clearly is an issue of concern to many in science, especially in the science blogosphere, and sparked much discussion in the comments to the original post, as well as prompting other bloggers to share their perspectives here, here, and here. And if that’s not enough for you, check here and also this one.
I have also given much thought to this topic, and although I am a little late to this round of the discussion, I’d like to offer my two cents. My perspective is that of a student entering grad school in physics, having just graduated from a liberal arts institution with majors in physics and math. With this in mind, here are my scattered thoughts on this topic:
Continue reading ‘Science, Liberal Arts, and the Two Cultures Debates’