Physics Major versus General Chemistry

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coreycwgriffin
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Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby coreycwgriffin » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:01 pm

I've never taken a chemistry course before. Not even in high school. So this semester I decided to take general chemistry. Huge mistake. Of course, I didn't go into the class with the most optimistic mindset. The physics/chemistry hatred is ingrained in me. The material is easy, but I can't learn it. Why? Because all it is is memorization, at least the way the course is taught at my university. Ideas are presented with no derivation. Every lecture is basically, "here's a list of things you should know, and an arbitrary way of using these memorized facts." No structure, no theory, nothing but memorization and regurgitation. And I just can't learn that way.

Luckily, I don't have to take the second semester of the course -- there are enough classes that I find more important to take in my last semester as a senior (Fourier series, differential equations, quantum, and an independent project which, results pending, has a real good chance of being publishable).

Anyone else feel the same way?

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twistor
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby twistor » Thu Nov 13, 2008 3:15 pm

I took two semesters of general chemistry. I never liked it because I always believed I had a much deeper understanding of what was going on than the chemists did. It wasn't later until I realized why chemists memorize chemical equations and a multitude of other things that seem arbitrary; it is because resorting to the more fundamental theories (enter QM) is time consuming and a large body of knowledge has already been formed regarding how chemicals interact. If you think of chemistry as a description of how chemicals can interact and understand that physics is telling you why they interact that way then the problems disappear.

Also, the labs sucked.

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:38 pm

twistor wrote:I took two semesters of general chemistry. I never liked it because I always believed I had a much deeper understanding of what was going on than the chemists did. It wasn't later until I realized why chemists memorize chemical equations and a multitude of other things that seem arbitrary; it is because resorting to the more fundamental theories (enter QM) is time consuming and a large body of knowledge has already been formed regarding how chemicals interact. If you think of chemistry as a description of how chemicals can interact and understand that physics is telling you why they interact that way then the problems disappear.

Also, the labs sucked.


Well, I appreciate that chemists do play around with things and come up with nice qualitative results, but I don't want to be the one doing that. I can't stand how general general chemistry is. Let the chemists do their thing, and if I need their results for something physics related I'll pick up one of the CRC Handbooks.

Toodles
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby Toodles » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:10 pm

At my school, physics majors have to take a year of Gen. Chem. Fortunately, memorization is not stressed at all. It's largely been a waste of time though, I'll admit.

mhazelm
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby mhazelm » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:46 pm

Oh, that's so the story of this semester for me. I somehow forgot to take Gen Chem II until this semester. So, along with quantum, thermodyamics, a graduate geometry class, and another general I forgot, I have to take it this semester... it's not hard at all, but I have to admit that it's not very exciting to me. Some of it's okay - reaction rates and such I at least find minimally interesting - but titration of strong acids by weak bases, etc. ICK!!!!

My problem has been that with my harder classes, grad school application craziness, and doing 10 hours of research a week, I keep procrastinating the chemistry because I can cram the day before the test and still do above average. But now it's finals week... and I haven't touched the last three chapters or so... so it will be a fun final for me. I just wanna pass so I can graduate... then NO MORE CHEMISTRY! bwahahaha.

Also, I have noticed that there is a trend of math-phobia among chemists at my school. The other students in the class freaked out when there were logs - the TA had to reassure everyone that logs are okay. Logs! Even freshman physics students knew logs, back then it was the calculus we were still learning that might have been hard... but algebra? C'mon... so what's with the avoidance of mathematics?

excel
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby excel » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:26 am

mhazelm wrote:Also, I have noticed that there is a trend of math-phobia among chemists at my school. The other students in the class freaked out when there were logs - the TA had to reassure everyone that logs are okay. Logs! Even freshman physics students knew logs, back then it was the calculus we were still learning that might have been hard... but algebra? C'mon... so what's with the avoidance of mathematics?


Not just in your school. :lol:

slugger
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby slugger » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:38 pm

Gen Chem is a waste of time, but I have found that there are a lot of grad level courses that i think would be of interest to a lot of physics majors--in particular i have enjoyed courses in quantum chem and molecular modelling. A lot of DFT and other methods that are of such importance in computational condensed matter are also put to great use by chemists--albeit with much smaller systems and using gaussian- and slater-type orbital basis sets rather than plane waves--but the results can be really enlightening. I think theoretical chemistry is as intelectually rich as any subfield in physics or math. Just look at John Pople, he always claimed to be a mathmatician even after he won the chem nobel.

nathan12343
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby nathan12343 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:13 pm

Right, sadly gen chem is a boring mess of titrations and long, boring labs.

I'm very glad I fulfilled my gen chem requirements with AP classes.

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quizivex
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby quizivex » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:02 am

That reminds me of the Beach Boys' song written in a gen chem lab:

"I'm mixing up good titrations. She's doing the calculations..."

I actually took Gen Chem 1 senior year just for the hell of it. I thought it helped reinforce, conceptually, some of the things we learned in various physics classes, especially the ideas behind bonding and stuff, though yea depending on the prof it could be a really boring or joke of an experience. I liked mine though. It was a big lecture hall full of 200 freshman chem/pre-med type "students" who would get 2 out of 10 on "factor-label method" quizzes.

Thankfully, our chem department considered chem class and chem lab as separate credit courses, so I didn't take the lab. I would never have taken the lecture if I'd have to wear painful safety goggles and mix a blue liquid with a red liquid and measure the temperature change while an inept partner struggles to convert from celsius to kelvin! :lol:

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razor
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby razor » Fri May 01, 2009 2:09 am

I hate Gen Chem too. It wasn't as exciting as physics.

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meowful
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Re: Physics Major versus General Chemistry

Postby meowful » Sun May 10, 2009 9:58 am

I haven't had room in my schedule for Chemistry in college, but it actually holds a special place in my heart because I never a fan of science in school until I took Chemistry in 10th grade. "Wow! Chemistry is like science but with math!" Haha, little did I know... :D




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