Saturday, October 29, 2011

Physics Fraud Friends

I don't know if I should put this up on the internet since it's slightly academically incriminating, but considering that the only people known to read this blog are my friends/family and people I don't know at all, it's probably okay.

I had a text conversation with a fellow physics degree friend the other day who is doing her Master's in engineering.  She mentioned that a prof had said that sound waves were part of the EM spectrum but decided against correcting him.  I said that it was an honest mistake and I probably would not have noticed his mistake at all, and then went further to say that I have always maintained that I'm pretty sure I basically just "mathed" my way through a physics degree without really learning any physics at all.

Usually when I tell people this, they say that it's not possible and I must have learned something but I just don't realize it (although I do have a super genius friend who claims she doesn't know any physics either).  And maybe that's true, maybe I learned a few basic concepts, but to be honest all I remember is the math involved.  In my job now, I'm "re-learning" some really basic physics concepts and finally realizing what they mean, because they're not being explained in a complicated context.  So seriously, I'm embarrassed to be like "oh THAT'S what Compton scattering is" when I clearly have a degree in it and should already be an expert on these topics.

So anyway, I fully expected the same reaction from this friend, but I was delighted when she responded "me too, I didn't learn any physics."  Hooray!  She went on to say that she doesn't care or have an opinion on about the faster than light neutrino controversy, which I had been just about to mention that I didn't know enough to form an opinion on it either.

I've always felt like the fact I have a physics degree is slightly fraudulent - no, I didn't "copy" my way through my degree, but I most certainly feel as though I faked my way through by being really good at math and memorization.  It's always nice to meet someone else who feels the same way - I may be a physics fraud, but it's good to know I have a few physics fraud friends.

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