The sitcom The Big Bang Theory introduced us to the world of physics through the socially awkward group of physicist buddies who work at CalTech. The show’s dose of realism made science chic again – every episode has at least one particle physics joke – and Sheldon’s pride in being a theoretical physicist can somehow be justified: physics is not for everyone.
Unlike other subjects, physics is different, and learning is a whole new ballgame. Physics is an analytical discipline, and mastering it requires a good understanding of the fundamental concepts of physics and mathematics. Furthermore, learning physics is essential to reveal the mysteries and secrets of the universe.
Loving the subject is no easy feat – physics can be tricky and complicated, and some find it challenging. But if the boys from TBBT can teach us anything, it’s that physics can be fun when it’s applied.
What’s The Best Way to Learn Physics?
Unlike mathematics or chemistry, physics deals with reality. It is a discipline that interacts with abstracts. Physics is required to measure and quantify things around us. For instance, when somebody throws something from a height, using the concepts of physics like gravity, we can measure the time it takes to reaches the ground. Similarly, there are plenty of phenomena around us, and unveiling and discovering how various systems interact with each other can be quite fascinating.
This means that unless there are hands-on experiences, making anyone understand the subject would be difficult. For example, in TBBT, when Sheldon is stuck trying to figure out a physics problem — why electrons have no mass when travelling through graphene — he experiments for days with a variety of items, from marbles to balls in a ball pit, to represent the electrons.
When it comes to science, experiential learning is essential, even more so for an analytical subject like physics to make learning more fun. Most people will need additional guidance and training in order to learn the theoretical concepts in physics and maths – this is why there’s huge competition in the maths tuition and physics tuition arena.
Here are four ways to learn to love physics:
- Physics is better when less emphasis is given on memorisation
Physics is a combination of theoretical and experimental learning. Physics makes people think more effectively, and when resolving a problem, he or she shouldn’t spell out an equation to tackle it. Instead, students should be taught, which comparison is well-suited to solve the problem.
- Physics should not be labelled as an abstract and dry subject
There is a lot of fun when you find how things work in the lab. When it’s hands-on, physics becomes very real, especially if you’re allowed to build an experiment from scratch using the parameters of the set-up that is entirely under your control. Coming up with an idea on paper for an investigation, and then analysing the final results of your research can be fun. After all, physics is all about asking questions and solving problems.
- Physicists need to study philosophy
Physics is primarily about studying why and how the universe behaves. Sometimes, it’s more than looking at problems in a logical way and coming up with ideal solutions. This is why a lot of physicists tend to study philosophy, which isn’t common in other fields of science. These two fields dissect the deepest and most profound mysteries of nature from different perspectives.
- Our everyday life is all about physics
Look around yourself, and you’ll find everything around is full of physics – the speed of the swirling water in the sink, GPS systems, microwaves, the accuracy of speed radar cameras; physics lessons can be everywhere.
What’s the Goal of Learning Physics?
Understanding physics is essential to reveal the mysteries and secrets of the universe – which is why physicists have contributed tremendously to the development of various technologies in recent years. We wouldn’t have mobile phones, jet planes, TVs, rocket engines or air conditioners without physicists.
Getting higher marks in physics exams or memorising formulas shouldn’t be anyone’s endgame when it comes to learning physics. It’s all about applying theories in experimentations and continually asking more questions.
If anything, you’ll be able to appreciate jokes from TBBT, like: “A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a drink. The bartender replies ‘for you, no charge’.”