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Physics/Intelligence Quotient, I feel as if I'm "Salao"


I have never done well academically, due to apathy towards grades/money/pride etc... I am not a defeatist, nor a case of indignance. I just don't see the point in contributing to an arena of competing grades and scores. Where the world is simply flat, but inextricably not so. Where there is more to everything than what conveniently meets our eyes; a universe in everything we perceive to be quantum. I am an aerospace engineering major and have a couple years to go, but I feel as if I'm a failure compared to other's achievements when I have none.
These people in my opinion fit the description of the german word "builimielernen." Constantly more concerned with self preservation and cultivation, rather than contribution. But generalizing is just lazy sociological reasoning.
All I'm trying to say is I am honestly losing passion due to disappointment when I compare myself to others. When my grades are compared to others, when everything is a comparison between how well others do and how well I do. In my opinion they can go %^&* themselves, I learn what I need to learn, time being of no factor. In doing so, I won't rush through massive amounts of fundamental/intermediate/advanced concepts. This, I believe is where learning becomes a file cabinet rather than a tool to build with. Anyways, I digress egregiously and in my experience, naively. I'm not trying to make an excuse for a bad grade, just describing how I feel. My question(s) are how did you fare during the time you were in school and working towards and doctorate? how did you stay focused and routined? how did you stay levelled emotionally? What did you do to meet people extracurricularly?

Also, I have taken calculus I-III and differential equations. What math subjects would I need to learn, in your opinion, to take a crack at this book? (Resolution of Singularities: A research textbook in tribute to Oscar Zariski)

Well, to address the first part, we all have low points in our education in any challenging career field.  Grades are grades, there will be some anomalies...but in general they should reflect your work ethic.  If they are not, then perhaps it is time to back up and strategize about your approach to the classes themselves.  Maximize your learning, minimize other things in your life that are distractions, and try to determine if this field is truly your passion.  If it is not, re-engineer your life and pursue something else (being already invested, it's hard, but do it).  If it is, focus on what riles your passion for the field and try to get into it more deeply.

As far as the book you mention, you really need to take some linear algebra and abstract algebra.  Also, I would try to take a good (if available) general relativity course at your school.  That type of course will force you to use the mathematical muscles necessary for that type of work.

Good luck.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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