Thursday, May 04, 2006

Don't ask

Often, in the midst of a pleasant conversation, people innocently ask me what my major is. In case you haven't figured it out, I am majoring in physics at YU. This tends to be, at best, a conversation stopper. But sometimes people feel the need to comment on it. So, here is a list of the top 9 (I couldn't remember 10) things that people have actually said to me, that, in my opinion, should not be said to a physics major:
  1. "Oh... [silence]" - This is by far the most common. Give me a break, people: I am capable of talking about other things (now and again).
  2. "I took physics in highschool." - You did? No way! That's almost like taking physics in college, right? Do I tell you that I took history in highschool?
  3. "I was never good at physics." - And I was never good at philosophy. Should I start with the sad violin music?
  4. "But doesn't that involve a lot of math?" - Yes. And your point?
  5. "What are you going to do with that?" - Simple: Physics. What else would I do with it, analyze French literature?
  6. "But isn't physics hard?" - Yes. That's why it's fun.
  7. "Oh, I never understood physics." - So do you want a tutor? I have reasonable rates...
  8. "Yeah, so I took physics for poets." - And I took English for English majors. You tell me if that's fair.
  9. "I'm sorry." - Don't be. I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't having fun.

As I know that some of our blog's readers are also physics majors, perhaps you'd like to add to this list in the comments. Non physics majors are welcome to comment, too, on things that people shouldn't ask/tell you.

15 comments:

  1. My personal favite that didn't make the list: "That's nice." And the response? Yes, that's why I'm majoring in it.

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  2. I don't understand what is wrong with physics. I think people are just jealous!

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  3. Ooooh... I love top 9 lists!

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  4. would these other physics majors be your brothers, eli? doesn't the bring the nepotism factor into play?

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  5. Actually, neither of my bros are physics majors. Yoni is majoring in applied mathematics, and Aryeh is majoring in mechanical/aerospace engineering.
    But some of our friends/readers are physics majors.

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  6. Uncle Sysfrog5/4/06, 4:46 PM

    is there such a thing as a "Physics Coporal"?

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  7. my personal favorite (i'm a physics major too) is this one: "physics? oh... does that make you uh... a physician?"

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  8. Yes, and a degree in chemistry lets you dispense medicine.

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  9. bio majors go through their own version of this all the time, like when I have to explain that, for the last time, no I am not going to medical school/OT/PT/other frum girl profession.

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  10. Being Physics also (duel with chem) I get the "silence", the "oh wow", and the "thats hard" one. all quite a bit. I once had the what do you do with that question, and I was thinking physics, I just left it at engineering, high tech, and stuff with math.

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  11. How would you LIKE for people to respond?

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  12. for Math I used to get the older generation saying - "the last time I did math was . . . um 40 years ago! I can't remember *anything* now!"

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  13. Yoni - going back and reading old posts? Anyway, I would've expected you got more comments along the lines of "Oh yeah, so what's 3874 times 28424 then?"

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  14. I had an acute version of this, being a math/physics/comp.sci. major until my third year when I realized I only had so much money and that this fact was relevant... Typical response was, " ... Wow." So I made up a number of follow-ups similar to "I'm thinking of going into Elementary Ed., or maybe the Clergy." Heh.

    @MJ: In retrospect, I think the universal question people *should* ask after finding out your area of study is: "What's the niftiest thing you've learned about that?" To which you should have a < 60 second answer. (For me, the current winner is the Basis Pursuit algorithm -- for finding sparse representations of signals in overcomplete basis dictionaries.)

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  15. Also for math I get "So... what are you going to do with that? teach?"

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