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October 27th, 2007, 08:21 PM   #1
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Physics

Is physics all about mathematic skills, or are there some other required skills to know physics?

Well, the reason that I'm asking, is that currently, math and computers are my two favorite subjects. I'm very curious about studying both computers and physics for my job, but I don't know if studying physics will be a wasting of time, because I'm not really a science type of person (but I know that some sciences uses maths). I like mathematics, and I know there are a lot of maths in physics, but I want to make sure what is physics is really about in general.

I'm thinking about what job I'll choose. It will be great if anyone has a advice on this.

Thanks for help,

J.
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October 27th, 2007, 08:32 PM   #2
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Is physics all about mathematic skills, or are there some other required skills to know physics?
Personally, I'd say that Physics is 80% mathematics. I love physics, and it has always interested me. The part that intrigues me most is Physics relating to space-time and how it can be bent and altered. If you like mathematics, you are also likely to enjoy physics as well, at least to some degree.
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October 27th, 2007, 08:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for the help. What's the other 20% contains in physics?
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October 28th, 2007, 09:17 AM   #4
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It would be all the unusual material associated with experimenting with the natural world. Experimentation is not something you have to do in mathematics, but is something you have to do all the time in physics. Physics, in short, is basically the process of humans reverse-engineering the universe.
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October 28th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #5
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Experimentation is not something you have to do in mathematics, but is something you have to do all the time in physics.
As an aside: Experimental mathematics is real, and is gaining popularity.
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October 28th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #6
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Experimental mathematics is real, and is gaining popularity.
But that is just another form of reverse engineering, which is basically physics. If it is experimental, then it's not math in the sense of proving exact theorems. It would be math in the sense of inexact reverse-engineering, which is basically the definition of physics.
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October 28th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #7
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But that is just another form of reverse engineering, which is basically physics. If it is experimental, then it's not math in the sense of proving exact theorems. It would be math in the sense of inexact reverse-engineering, which is basically the definition of physics.
I don't think experimental mathematics is at all similar to physics. It is, as you say, less concerned with proving theorems -- the whole point is to find mathematics facts faster, and that is done by largely dispensing with proof.
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October 28th, 2007, 02:47 PM   #8
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So basically, they take things that work so far as anyone knows and assume them to be true whether or not they can be proven to be true? If everybody thinks that Goldbach's conjecture is true, and billions of possibilities have been searched without anyone proving it to be false, the they would just assume it to be true and go from there, building other conjectures on the assumed truth of first conjecture?

Now if they were wrong... It might turn out to that an entire tree of theorems would turn out to be false.
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October 28th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #9
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So basically, they take things that work so far as anyone knows and assume them to be true whether or not they can be proven to be true? If everybody thinks that Goldbach's conjecture is true, and billions of possibilities have been searched without anyone proving it to be false, the they would just assume it to be true and go from there, building other conjectures on the assumed truth of first conjecture?
Maybe you should read up on it before criticizing. Links:
http://www.expmath.org/ and http://www.experimentalmath.info/

FWIW, experimental mathematicians *would* suppose the Goldbach conjecture and the odd perfect conjecture to be true. They *would not* build other conjectures on their basis, preferring to work different conjectures separately (so as to avoid compounding errors). And it's not simply failing to find counterexamples -- it's building good heuristics, collecting data, and deciding if there's sufficient evidence to accept or reject hypotheses. They do also prove theorems in a traditional way, based on data collected. These are usually useful lemmata on the way to fully experimental results.
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October 29th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #10
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My argument against experimental mathematics is aesthetic rather than practical:

Experimentation (i.e. trial and error) is ugly, inelegant and in no way clever. I'm interested in math as an art, and it's very difficult to call brute force artful. There is nothing "mathematical" in the aesthetic sense about raw computation power.

I will continue to multiply my infinite cardinals (as yaronct put it) and let you keep your high paying jobs... I'll have more fun with my math
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