Physics, Anyone?

Yesterday in 1684, Isaac Newton’s paper on the theory of gravity was read to the Royal Society by Edmund Halley.  I wonder how it was received? Did they nod and say ,“Oh yes, I can see exactly what he is getting at”, or did they scratch their powdered wigs and shrug their shoulders, thinking “Poor Isaac has been spending too much time sitting under the trees.”

Hard sciences were never my strong suit in high school and college. Neither was mathematics. for that matter, although I was  pretty ace at Psychology statistics in graduate school. In college, the Physics majors I knew often said that Physics was a way of investigating God. I was just glad I didn’t have to take any physics classes. Biology, now that was a subject I could embrace.  I don’t know what it means that my poorest grade in college was in bowling,  a physical education class I despised. Maybe if I had taken a Physics class I would have been a better bowler.

What came easily to you in school? What was difficult? What would you like to learn about now?

47 thoughts on “Physics, Anyone?”

  1. I worked two years as an academic adviser, helping college freshmen sign up for the classes that would eventually allow them to graduate. The most common question we advisers dealt with was, “How can I meet the science distribution requirement without–you know–taking an actual science class?”

    There was an answer: “Sign up for astronomy. That’s science that anyone can handle.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My DIL is an academic advisor in the Pharmacy School at SDSU. The professors do very little advising,. She keeps her students on the path for graduation, teaches some basic writing and academic skills classes, and helps with recruiting.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I took his class back in the day too! Very entertaining speaker as long as you didn’t get him off track. He preferred no questions during his lectures. I enjoyed the class, but don’t seem to have retained much of what he presented.


        Liked by 2 people

      2. I attended that lecture once, I’m guessing back in 1976 or 77, and loved it. At the time I was dating, off and on, a guy who taught astronomy at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. My college taught what we affectionately called “Physics for Poets.” All the big concepts of physics without having to remember the math behind it. The professor was a great story teller and make the ideas come to life. For a kid like me who wasn’t going to be a physicist by trade it was great.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. What came easily: writing. What came hard: foreign languages. What never came at all: organic chemistry.

    In grad school I took a course called “German for grad students.” That was a euphemism for “German for those who never want to learn German but have to pass a class in it.” The instructor would go up and down the rows of students one at a time, asking each student to translate a sentence. That meant that, although nobody had done the homework, we could fake it if we counted correctly and managed to translate one sentence in an essay. That class was so scary for me I still occasionally have dreams (nightmares, really) where I am suddenly ordered to translate a sentence of German.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. After a lifetime of fearing and mostly avoiding science, I’ve become a passionate supporter of science. Why? The current cultural and political scenes frighten me because there is so much blatant rejection of careful, disciplined thinking. A lot of people now feel entitled to choose their own reality, as if science were just another view of things that has no special claim to be true. I beg to differ. We live in scary times because people can’t discriminate between opinion and fact. Popular culture is filled with junk science, junk history and junk politics. I’ve seen other folks like me discovering the value of science for the same reason.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I tested out of freshman english. I took some literature courses but I’d have to say that I never felt really at home in them at the time. I took no math and opted for astronomy as my science (and psychology 101, if that counted as a science). As a studio arts major, a lot of my classes were either studio classes or art history.

    What I needed at the time was different from what attracts me now. A fair amount of what I read is in the areas of science theory and science history. If I were in college now, I might have been an American Studies major, the subject I have been pursuing auto-didactically for decades. Nothing I learned as a studio arts major was anything that equipped me for the work I ended up doing, though that work was in the areas of art and design and also writing. I think I was already equipped for that. What I got from my studio arts major was life experiences and a set of life-long friends and that’s what I needed more than anything.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. College math was hard, but I could do it if I really studied; I never had to take Calculus, though. I now wish I’d taken that physics class… I find the little bits I learn about fascinating (via Neil Degrasse Tyson).

    The music courses came easily, but it took me the better part of two years to figure out I could use that – and get a minor in Music!

    I wish I’d had more cultural anthropology, comparative religion, geography. Of course, now I could just read about that on my own, but I rarely do. Hmmmm….

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Rise and Skate through it Baboons,

    History, English, and Literature were easy. Chemistry and Algebra were so hard. Band and small group instrumentals were so much fun!

    That’s all until this evening. Busy day ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t have much trouble with any classes. HS Physics was the most challenging to me. Worked my ass off for a B. English came easy. I love math and science and did well in all until math got into calculus–then I faded. Loved Algebra and Chemistry.

    I was a band geek, so music was fun and easy. In college, we music ed majors had to pass a piano proficiency test. THAT was hard for me. For some reason, using two hands doing separate things to play an instrument (piano, guitar, strings) was far more challenging that wind instruments (especially the brasses). So I slaved away practicing my elementary Mozart and Bach piano pieces until I could schlep my way through. Passed the test but I’m sure not by any great margin.

    Chris in Owatonna (who’s a much better “air guitarist” than he is with the real thing.)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I took some basic accounting classes at the U of M early in my career as an office manager. I thought that would be helpful in understanding balance sheets and other financial statements, and it was. I also took a smattering of general management courses, mostly related to personnel, and one course in marketing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I looked into declaring a business major but when I saw how many math classes were required I dropped that idea.
      Math is hard! (me whining)
      Pshaw; I can write an English paper in my sleep.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. In high school, pretty much everything came easy, though I found some subjects a lot more interesting than others. I never cared much for history, especially ancient history, and was bored stiff when the teacher would drone on and one about ancient Mesopotamia, the Peloponnesian War, and such. I was much more interested in botany and zoology which for some reason has remained a life-long interest.

    By the time I started at the university I was twenty-six years old, and had a whole new appreciation for learning. Still, I didn’t enjoy my history classes, in part because I took an immediate and intense dislike to the teacher.

    Chemistry I found difficult, I just didn’t get it, still don’t. Weather was tough too, I thought. I tested out of my foreign language requirement in German, and squandered a fair amount of credits on elective fun stuff like weaving, pottery and sculpting. I liked most of my English classes, psychology, and PE. Philosophy struck me at the time as a waste of time. It’s only later in life that I have learned to appreciate how philosophy applies to our daily lives.

    Nowadays I find myself delving into things like world religions and art history because I find it interesting. I also read history, partly because of interest but probably more because I feel an obligation to know. My knowledge of American history was pretty rudimentary when I arrived here in 1965, and it’s still a work in progress. It’s only within the last ten to fifteen years that I have come to appreciate what a fascinating subject it is. I’m glad, though, that I wasn’t taught history in an American high school. The sanitized version of American history that was served up to students of my generation in high school, omitted or glossed over a lot of painful and shameful information. I wonder how much that has changed?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I signed up for a beginning philosophy class but walked out after the second class. It promised to be more sophomoric bloviating than I thought I could stand.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I thought of philosophy as so much navel gazing and a waste of time. Basically haggling over words. Too esoteric and with no practical application as I saw it. Guess I’ve become more philosophical as I’ve grown older and understand nuance better.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Most written history is from the point of view of the “conquerors”. Then there is Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, from the pov of the “conquered”. Admittedly, this is according to Husband, who has actually read it. : )

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Darling Daughter is working her way through a year of “advanced placement” US History (which goes deeper into the ideas and concepts vs “all facts all the time”). They have already talked more about some of the difficult subjects, and in a more thoughtful way, than when I took US History 30+ years ago. The Civil War topics are not “there was slavery, a bunch of people fought here, here, and here, and then Lincoln freed the slaves.” They are getting into the economic roots of it, the willingness of folks to completely dehumanize others in the name of making a buck, and that everyone in the North wasn’t automatically anti-slavery. Curious to see what comes of the 20th century once she gets that far.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. There are so many interesting subjects! I look through the courses offered here and it’s simply scheduling that prohibits me taking a lot of them.
    There’s a class on world religions I think looks really interesting. It’s all online however there’s not much interest and it got dropped this semester for low enrollment. And the classes are really better in person; listening to the teacher (can) be really the best part. But those are the hardest for me to fit into my schedule. And so much stuff is going online now days.

    There is a bowling class offered in phy ed.
    I’ll need some science courses too at some point. Astronomy might be good.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I went into college thinking I would major in theater and Russian language. I enjoyed my Russian classes in high school – in part because I had a really great teacher who talked a lot about the interplay between language and culture. The college Russian classes being more grammar and book-writing drive vs. spoken language proved to be a tougher slog (and I didn’t fit neatly into a level there – I was too advanced for basic Russian, but not enough for 2nd year…and, yeah, I gave up). I did find my way to the Cultural Anthropology department freshman year and I was hooked. I love thinking about how culture shapes how we navigate and interact with our world – and how that becomes a cycle that feeds on itself. Language, food, the books we read, politics, geography – it all has a hand in it and I find that fascinating. There are some things we have a lot in common across the globe, and others are vastly different. Our perceptions are shaped by and shape our culture. And then there are the structures and patterns that you can start to see… I just love it. It may seem that software development is a far cry from that – but it’s the human side of what software can do and how it can help us (or not) that overlaps with my inner-anthro major. What we need, what we want, what we say we need (that is really a “want”), how to suss that all out – that’s where the anthropology helps. My anthropology classes had me reading everything from Margaret Meade to current writing about the “tribes” on Capitol Hill and the micro-cultures on skid row. I watched “Rambo” in one class so we could discuss how it reflected current US culture (it was still a “newish” movie when I was in college), read a bodice-ripper romance novel in the same class (ditto), talked about the differences in medicine/medical practice and how that was affected by and reflected culture, and a host of other fun stuff. The professors were careful not to have anthropology be something that only happened in “exotic” (non-Western) places like the African continent or New Guinea. Still informs a lot of how I navigate things today. Did I mention it came easily it because it was fun?…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It has always been my experience that learning comes easily if I find the subject fun and interesting. If I don’t, it’s damn near impossible to get it to stick.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. In school I shied away from things like chemistry, because I thought a lot of the science stuff would be hard. If I were to go back to school now, I’d probably delve further into it. At this point in life I don’t really have anything to lose, and it would be nice to pick up some knowledge .

    Probably should have taken more math, too. I was always good at math, but I was better at it if I understood how it was to be applied.

    Liked by 3 people

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