When it comes to choosing a field of study, mathematics, and physics are both popular choices among students. Both mathematics and physics are not for the faint-hearted and require a lot of hard work to succeed.
So, is physics harder than calculus? For most students, physics is more challenging than mathematics, particularly calculus, because physics requires a rigorous understanding of mathematics and physics concepts. When I was in high school, I found mathematics easier than physics and more enjoyable; therefore, I found myself practicing maths more than physics.
In this blog post, I will explore the similarities and differences between physics and calculus to determine which one is really harder. If you wonder whether calculus is harder than chemistry or not, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
What Is Physics?
Generally, physics focuses on studying everything in physical existence, from the tiniest subatomic particles to the whole universe. Physicists attempt to design conceptual and mathematical models representing interactions between entities (both big and small) to help expand our understanding of the universe (Source: Tennessee Tech University)
As the study of matter and energy, physics includes various subjects such as mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics.
If you want to learn more about physics, I encourage you to head over to Khan Academy or watch the video below.
What Is Mathematics?
Mathematics is a science that focuses on studying quality, structure, change, and space. Generally, mathematicians seek patterns, develop new conjectures, and empirically deduce truth from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions. (Source: Tennessee Tech University)
Let’s discuss calculus and physics. Calculus is a branch of mathematics that deals with the study of change. It includes topics such as differentiation, integration, limits, and infinite series.
If you want to learn what is mathematics, I recommend you watch the video below.
Similarities And Differences Between Physics And Calculus
At its core, physics is the study of the natural and physical world, while calculus is focused on studying changes and processes. While the two subjects may seem vastly different, calculus is actually a huge part of physics. Calculus is used to describe and solve problems related to motion, forces, and energy, all of which are fundamental concepts in physics. Therefore, if you are already a master of calculus, I believe you will have a definite advantage in physics.
One of the reasons why most students find physics challenging is that it requires a significant amount of imagination. It is not enough to just memorize equations and plug in numbers. Students must have a deep understanding of the underlying concepts and be able to visualize physical scenarios.
In contrast, calculus is seen as more formula-based and straightforward. This difference gives off the impression of physics being a tougher subject, but when one starts to enjoy physics, which can make it a fun and interesting subject.
In addition, calculus may be seen as easier because it focuses mainly on problem-solving, while physics covers a broad range of topics. Calculus covers topics such as integration, differentiation, and multi-variable functions, which some students find challenging.
Physics, on the other hand, involves more abstract and multifaceted concepts like forces, motion, and energy transfer. In some cases, physics requires the ability to visualize and analyze situations in three-dimensional space, which is hardly the case with calculus.
Is Physics Really Harder Than Calculus?
Both subjects have their own unique challenges and require different skills. While physics does require more imagination and uses complex mathematical models, calculus is more focused and straightforward in terms of problem-solving.
When I was in high school, I found physics to be harder because I didn’t enjoy it. However, if you are a good problem solver, have a strong mathematical background, and enjoy delving into the unknown, you may find physics to be more rewarding and interesting.
In calculus, you will need a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry to succeed. You will also have to be able to think abstractly and understand complex formulas. In physics, you will need to have a good understanding of calculus to be able to solve problems. You will also need to be able to visualize problems and have a good sense of intuition.
At the end of the day, I believe that it is all about finding the subject that suits your interest and strengths the best, motivating you to work even harder.
Why Is Physics Considered to Be a Difficult Subject?
Physics is often perceived as more difficult as it requires a lot of physical intuition that many people lack. You will need to be able to imagine how the physical world works and how objects interact with each other. Calculus, on the other hand, is purely abstract, and you don’t necessarily need to have a strong sense of intuition to succeed.
Another reason why physics is seen as harder than calculus is due to the complexity of the mathematical models used in physics. Calculus is often used to solve equations that have clear-cut solutions, while this is not always the case in physics. Physics models are often complex and hard to solve, even with the application of calculus, which can make it more challenging and time-consuming to work on physics problems.
Another factor that makes physics harder than calculus is the level of mathematical rigor required. Physics problems can get quite complex, and you will often have to know what formulas to use and how to manipulate them to get the right answer. Calculus problems can also be challenging in their own right, but they’re usually more straightforward and don’t require as much manipulation.
Furthermore, physics has a lot of real-world applications that make it more challenging. You will need to be able to apply the theoretical concepts you learn in class to real-life situations. Calculus is also applicable in the real world, such as finance, engineering, and computer science.
What to read next:
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- Graphing Made Easy: Finding the Easiest Graphing Calculator to Use.
So, Is physics harder than calculus? Both subjects require different skill sets and ways of thinking, and it really depends on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses.
However, most students often perceived physics as a difficult subject due to the physical intuition required, the level of mathematical rigor, and the real-world applications.
I believe that the key to becoming good at anything in life is to practice and seek help when needed, whether it be from your teacher, tutor, or classmates. I also believe that with hard work, dedication, and a positive attitude, you can succeed in both physics and calculus.