On physics and how wildly hard it is

Physics is so hard that it’s almost a joke. Not because there’s anything inherently funny about it—there’s nothing funny about it. But you have to not take it seriously. It’s absolutely necessary to survival. Otherwise the true impossibleness of it would be crushing.

The way forward is to just laugh (and cry if needed) at how hard it is and surround yourself with people who do the same. If you do this, I would go so far to describe the experience as enjoyable.

Physics class is not bad at all. It’s kind of fun. Not because I understand what’s going on during it. Even when I really try to pay attention, I’m still pretty lost. So half the time I just read New York Times articles.

I think part of the problem is that my physics teacher doesn’t understand what it’s like to not understand physics. But it’s okay. This would only become a cause of mutiny if it doing well in his class stopped being as easy it is. Since I’ve been in high school, the test curve has always been so strong that you can miss a good amount and still not fail. It’s because he grades it like the AP tests where the standard isn’t 100% accuracy.

The other reason I’m okay with it is because he is exceedingly nerdy. On the first day of school when he was introducing himself, it didn’t cross his mind to mention that he was married or had kids. Instead he talked about his love for Lord of the Rings (the books are obviously better than the movies, but the movie scoring is fantastic) and the other science class he teaches: astronomy, which he loves teaching maybe even more than physics.

Before class starts, he sometimes plays music on one of those old-school boombox things. By music, I mean classical or Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

He encourages us to play around on our own time with physic simulations about acceleartion, physics, projectile motion.

I am so curious about what’s it like inside his brain. Tying shoelaces: physics! Walking up the stairs: physics! Brushing teeth: physics! Cleaning up a spill: physics!

He’s even infilitrating my brain with physics.

Do you know why you’re not supposed to ride elevators when there’s a fire? It’s because the doors know when it’s safe to close because of light sensors, but in the case of a fire, the smoke would distrub the sensor and keep it from closing. It’s not because the fire would melt the doors and trap you inside. It’s because the fire would trap you by keeping the doors from closing.

Do you know why the stream of water from a faucet always separates into droplets? Okay, I still can’t completely explain this one, but something with gravity and time. But he could explain it.

Did you know that when you’re in a car going 70mph and you pass a car that’s going 70mph in the opposite direction, they’re actually going 140mph if looking from your frame of reference? Does that make any sense to you?

Did you know if an airplane drops a bomb and it keeps going at the same speed, the bomb will stay right under them?

Did you know that you push with the same force on the ground as it does on you? Which means that when you jump on the earth, you’re actually moving it? I mean sure, it’s infinitesimal, but still.

Did you know that in C. S. Lewis’ book, Out of the Silent Planet, he got the physics of living on Mars wrong?

So yea, maybe I still don’t know how to do elevator or pulley problems, but I am clearly learning very valuable information.

Not everybody in my class has this experience with physics class. There are two boys who look at the notes beforehand and teach themselves the lesson. One of them coded a program that does physics problems. The other one had a perfect test on our last unit, which doesn’t really happen.

The rest of us have largely succumbed and purchased Chegg. Chegg is this website that has basically all the homework problems with explanations on how to do it. It’s a subscription that costs 15 dollars a month. I’ve heard people describe it as the best thing they’ve ever bought.

The other day, the coder boy wondered off-handedly about the possibility of someone in our class getting Chegg. I immediately informed him that most of us needed Chegg to complete our Webassigns (online hw), and that I had one, she had one (I pointed at my friends), and her, and her, and her, and her.

That was when I truly realized that these two groups of physics students live in different dimensions. There’s the magical few who actually know how to do the physics homework. And then there’s the rest of us normal mortals for whom this class will one day be a wonderful memory to bring up during do-you-remember-when.

Dude, I’m rusty at writing blog posts. It feels weird, like between now and four months ago, the canal between my fingers and my brain got stopped up and now I have to start practicing again in order to clear it out.

Have you ever taken physics?
Do you know anyone who can beat my teacher’s nerdiness levels?
Random, interesting fact–about yourself or the world, GO.

5 thoughts on “On physics and how wildly hard it is”

  1. Oof I kinda had a similar experience with physics this year, and I’d say that I understood most of the content; I just found the pace excruciating and that there wasn’t much support when I didn’t get things. But yes, the teacher is pretty nerdy but also doesn’t know what it’s like to not understand physics haha.

    Liked by 1 person

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