Experiencing Physics as a pedestrian

(To my readers, this blog post is a project for my Physics 10 course. The content therefore will have little to no connection to what I usually post. Nevertheless, if it holds your interest feel free to check it out.)

During the first semester, a classmate of mine expressed his enjoyment from a course known as Physics 10. Specifically, he was talking about the lecture on holograms during the course segment called “lecture series”. He said that everyone, including himself, was in awe of having actually seen a hologram with their own eyes. Of course, I too would’ve been in awe. Holograms are cool. I asked about how hard the course was and how much computation did they do, considering that it’s Physics. Not that I had a hard time with Physics back in high school, but that’s not to say it was a cakewalk as well. Surprisingly though, he said that there was almost no computation involved at all. In his words “It’s just Physics for Pedestrians”. Later on I found out that that was also Physics 10’s course title.

The term “pedestrians” didn’t sit well with me at first. It sounded off for some reason. My classmate explained that the course was more on the “what” of Physics, rather than the “how”. I understood what he meant at the time, just not how I should take it as.

It wasn’t until the second semester that I took Physics 10 for a spin as well. Though I say “took for a spin”, it wasn’t really in my initial lineup of subjects. During the first run through the CRS, I had set Philosophy 11 (Logic) as one of my subjects during Tuesdays and Thursdays. Apparently, it was one of those highly acclaimed subjects that almost everyone wants, so I ended up getting all my other subjects except Philo. I didn’t have a back-up course listed so I ended up having to undergo the customary “prerog”. With my options limited, Physics 10 surfaced through my memories, and as luck would have it, there were still three slots available for a class that matched my schedule.

A few weeks into it was all I needed to clear the air of doubt I had. It was true that computation wasn’t a priority. The most we had to do was say whether a planet’s gravitational force doubled or quartered. Besides that, we only studied things like “who thought of what” and “why does that happen”. Suffice to say, it was different from what I’ve come to know about Physics. I guess it’s also safe to say that it’s a common misconception that Physics is all about problem solving. I too believed that at first, along with most high school students, and maybe even some college students today as well. It can’t be helped though, or at least in my case that is. I remember having to solve for various things from voltage to trajectory. Having the G.R.E.S.A. (Given, Required, Equation, Solution, Answer) format drilled into us didn’t really help as well. I knew no other Physics than that.

I’d like to think I’m not alone when I say that such an experience would lead someone to shy away from Physics. But like I said, Physics 10 was different from the Physics I, and probably a lot of other people are familiar with. I’ve thought about it for a while, and “Physics (and Astronomy) for Pedestrians” really does suit what I’ve learned from it. For one, we’ve touched on a lot of things in greater detail and less technicality. Doing so gives room for appreciation, and by extension, enjoyment as well. Personally, it felt really awesome having understood what the general theory of relativity explains and how it would look like, as supposed to knowing the jargon within itself.

I thought I never really gave Physics it’s due credit back in high school. I’d say that I favored Chemistry more since it had a more interactive feel to it, as supposed to Physics which was all pen-work. Right now though, I think I had it backwards – it wasn’t that I didn’t give Physics credit, rather, high school Physics didn’t really give much credit to Physics as a whole. It’s a shame really. I mean, of course, pen-work aside it wasn’t all bad, but in Physics 10 we were basically reviewing some of the things we encountered but never really “got into”. We were pedestrians, but we never really got across the streets we that we could’ve at the time.

In the end, I guess what I’m trying to say is, Physics is a bit more enjoyable then what is commonly experienced, even if it’s just by being a pedestrian.

4 thoughts on “Experiencing Physics as a pedestrian

  1. Nice story. So that’s a pretty good way to become a pedestrian. Actually, I also have a similar experience how I got into Math, like it started around Grade9. It’s not really because I’m good in numbers but because I love drawing figures and I was so fascinated by the philosophical stuff of Math theories. Because of this appreciation, overtime, the number part became clear. Physics is also one of my favourite courses because the phenomenon that it explains is just mind-boggling and amazing. As they said, those who formulated those laws and theories were philosophers first before they became mathematicians and physicist, the number just came in later.

    I’m glad that you’re enjoying Physics. Good luck on your studies.

  2. Physics for Pedestrians sounds a lot like a course I took in college: “Physics for Future Presidents.” It really opened my eyes to how much fun physics can be (provided that I don’t have to do all the higher mathematics and such). But yea, physics is super mind blowing, and even today, I love checking out random lectures on it.

    • Depends on what you need the notes for.

      If it’s for the regular discussions, I don’t have much, since my prof for that sem (Ma’am Legara) said that she’d give a reviewer before the first long exam and insisted that we just listen during the lesson (I might still have that reviewer though)

      If it’s for the lecture series, I think I still have some pdf’s stored somewhere. 😀

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