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    Hello, welcome to the General Questions thread for Physics.

    This thread is for questions of a non-specific nature, such as:

    "Is <subject> hard?", "Will I be able to do well at <subject>?" etc.

    If you want to ask a specific question about a particular topic, or want
    help with a question, then feel free to start a new thread.


    This will help to de-clutter the Academic Help forums, and make them much easier to use.
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    Just wondering if any one has/uses this revision guide.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0...lance&n=266239

    i hae looked at an old copy in the school library and it doesn't look that great but i have the chemistry one and its brill so didn't know if the more recently published version is useful. Thoughts? If not any other good edexcel specific guides?
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    Do you need to be a genius/exceptional to be a successful physicist?
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    (Original post by .S.O.S.)
    Do you need to be a genius/exceptional to be a successful physicist?
    Not in my opinion though it definitely wouldn't be a handicap. To be an amazing theoretical physicist maybe, or to be a good acedemician it's certainly an advantage. To be successful in physics however (from what I've seen personally) you need an firstly an aptitude, then an interest, tenacity and the ability to push yourself really hard. In the senior years of a degree it means pushing aside much of your social life to do well.
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    (Original post by ApeXaviour)
    Not in my opinion though it definitely wouldn't be a handicap. To be an amazing theoretical physicist maybe, or to be a good acedemician it's certainly an advantage. To be successful in physics however (from what I've seen personally) you need an firstly an aptitude, then an interest, tenacity and the ability to push yourself really hard. In the senior years of a degree it means pushing aside much of your social life to do well.
    I might point out that this is applicable to any subject, not just physics. Successful historians squirrel themselves away in libraries just as much as successful physicists squirrel themselves away in the lab.
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    I guess confidence is important...which i lack...(i noticed a correlation between be being confident and doing better). Any way I can improve confidence....im always thinking 'o no i can't do this' 'im not clever' ....'this looks scary' ....'how am i gunna approach this' i worry...so i don't actually think about the question/what im doing at hand.
    especially when theres people around...when people are looking at me waiting for an answer. i think ...'crap..they think im stupid, what if i say something silly, im taking too looong, they think im ugly,(lol).' etc. plus trying to answer the question.
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    (Original post by Worzo)
    I might point out that this is applicable to any subject, not just physics. Successful historians squirrel themselves away in libraries just as much as successful physicists squirrel themselves away in the lab.
    Fair enough, I'll agree and disagree with that. Personally I've found that (at least for the upper undergraduate level) the physics/chemistry/maths students among my friends tended to find it much more demanding than the arts/business students. Now maybe this is just my uni or even just my imagination but that's how I've found it.

    When I mentioned tenacity though, the way it was meant I think is much more specific to physics. The ability to stick with one single problem or one idea and keep at it 'til you've cracked it, for days even without giving up. This is an important attitude to have IMO. Like S.O.S. says it's a lot to do with confidence (or maybe sheer stubborness). I mean if you're looking at a problem and thinking "that's too hard" or "I'm not clever enough" you won't make it if you don't change.
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    True, you do need to be able to attack a problem. Most of the learning you do comes from this. Much like an essay for an artist means he has to think what factors influence his answer to the title, a physicist has to think around the question and work out what they need to know about the problem in order to solve it.

    A lot depends on what you mean by 'successful' though. I'd say, to ultimately be successful in physics as a career, for experimental physics, you need to be like in the top 10 physicists in the country. Those are the people who lead the big projects. Similarly, if you want to come up with any new theories these days, you're more likely to have come from a maths background and just be an absolute beast at dealing with topology etc. These are the people I'd consider geniuses.

    However, if by success, you mean do a good PhD, then I don't think you have to be absolute genius, no. You just have to develop a good physical intuition (by doing practicals and reading lots), and good mathematical ability (by crunching through the problems). And it doesn't have to wreck your social life! Funnily enough, if you are an absolute genius, then undergrad physics is so easy for you that you hardly have to do any work anyway.
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    no, i mean successful as in actually a respectable/competitive physicist/in the leading. To gain a reputation for one self in the physics community.
    I have determination/presistance. And when im on my own i have confidence because I feel relaxed, theres no 'at the moment' pressure, just my own drive to succeed.
    I get shy and nervous around people.
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    You need to be creative. You need to be able to interpret old theories in a new way, to gain insight into physical laws, or you need to be able to come up with new theories that explain current phenomena and predict new laws of physics. You need a good understanding of theoretical physics, and an appreciation of the importance of experimentation in validating your theories.

    In the physics community I suppose your worth is mostly evaluated by the quality of your professional research, papers published and lectures given at conferences, and any experimentation you do.

    There is no way to learn how to become a good physicist, but you do need to have a true appreciation of physics and a drive and desire to learn more and discover new science.
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    (Original post by jpowell)
    and an appreciation of the importance of experimentation in validating your theories.
    Of course experimentation really isn't just about the validation of theories, it's exploration and discovery in itself.

    On that note if I could be so bold as to point towards a slightly controversial Harry Lipkin article. It's a fun read (for physicists)
    http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-53/iss-7/p15.html

    PS: Lipkin himself is a theorist...
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    Good article. I can understand where he comes from. As a theorist myself I think it is easy to forget the importance of experimentation, but really any credible physicist must appreciate experimentation for experimentations sake.
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    Hey! I need some advice. I know i have achieved an A* in my double award AQA Science at GCSE, but i have this great feeling that next year physics will be so hard to keep up with. I enjoy the mathematical part of it but am not the assive fan of the subject. I'm a sort of person who can learn loads of facts. The thing that worries me is the experimental test thing, which i can just see myself failing miserably. I think ill be fine with the other modules. Please reassure me
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    hi, I went on to do A Level physics thinking we were going to learn about quantum mechanics and GR, lol. There are quite a few concepts you have to get you head around, I wouldn't say it was difficult, and you got A*, shows you do have the capability, thus far. Being able to learn a load of facts is good, but understanding what you learn't is important, that way it'll be easy for you to apply your knowledge.
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    I was wondering...say if i wanted to apply for a phD at oxbridge (ok im being a bit ambitious), would my GCSE results be looked at?...i mean would they be significantly important?
    beacause my english lang/lit GCSE isn't good..C/C but that was on a very bad day and i thought i actually failed english. . I was wondering if i should resit...best time would be during the first year, because i've heard most things are repeated A level i could get away with B for maths GCSE i guess, because of A in A level.
    And even if i just managed just to improve to BB then i'd still be apply to good unis.
    my GCSE
    5A* (phys, chem, bio, ICT, astronomy)
    1A (art)
    2B (math, french)
    3C (english lang/lit, welsh short course)

    1A AS: bio
    3As A2: math,chem,phys

    Plus ill have an MPhys degree (hopefully else i wouldn't be going for a phD)

    (got nothing much to do except think about silly little things like this)
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    (Original post by .S.O.S.)
    I was wondering...say if i wanted to apply for a phD at oxbridge (ok im being a bit ambitious), would my GCSE results be looked at?
    Short answer: no!

    Longer answer: I doubt the DPhil (Oxford's PhD) application form would have a box for GCSEs! If you want to study quantum information processing or research some obscure 14th century Mongolian poet, the evidence that you have the capability will come from how well you performed in your degree, not whether you got a C in english at GCSE.

    Warning though: I wouldn't be surprised if Oxbridge post-grad courses only accept very strong students those with a high 2:1 or 1st.

    There's no point resitting your GCSEs becuase a) people only look at your last qualifications, so you'd be better off spending more time on your A-levels and degree, and b) many universities do not accept grades for GCSEs that have been resat.
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    (Original post by .S.O.S.)
    I was wondering...say if i wanted to apply for a phD at oxbridge (ok im being a bit ambitious), would my GCSE results be looked at?...i mean would they be significantly important?
    beacause my english lang/lit GCSE isn't good..C/C but that was on a very bad day and i thought i actually failed english. . I was wondering if i should resit...best time would be during the first year, because i've heard most things are repeated A level i could get away with B for maths GCSE i guess, because of A in A level.
    And even if i just managed just to improve to BB then i'd still be apply to good unis.
    my GCSE
    5A* (phys, chem, bio, ICT, astronomy)
    1A (art)
    2B (math, french)
    3C (english lang/lit, welsh short course)

    1A AS: bio
    3As A2: math,chem,phys

    Plus ill have an MPhys degree (hopefully else i wouldn't be going for a phD)

    (got nothing much to do except think about silly little things like this)
    I seriously doubt you need to worry about your GCSE's, you have incredible A-level results.

    Frankly the only thing that post graduate admissions people will be looking at is your degree classification. A good 2:1 or a first is essential for doing a Phd at a decent university, not A grade GCSE english.
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    I have to choose 2 modules between these

    either: Planet Earth
    or Maths practice for physical science

    and

    either: astrophysical concepts
    or how the human body works

    what are your opinions, which ones should i choose?
    im thinking maths practice for phys sci and astrophysical concepts.
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    Thats what I'd go with - but then I was into maths and astrophysics.
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    no im not allowed to take the maths practice module, because i got an a for maths, although theres complex numbers covered in that module which i havn't done :confused:. so i had to choose between planet earth or a free standing module....I really wanted to do Philosophy of Mathematics, but i couldn't find the place where they were dealing with that stuff...hmm, i'll talk to them on friday.
 
 
 
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