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Author: Subject: Isn't there just too much?
radiance88
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 00:18
Isn't there just too much?


I'm still somewhat recent into this hobby of chemistry - I find it absolutely amazing how everything comes together and interacts on the most minute scales.

I still don't know that much and am still going through basic chem, and I seem to have gotten down a lot of things - however just observing some of the books I am reading and online video courses I'm taking, it's hard to not feel overwhelmed.

There is just so much to learn, and I can't wait to actually gain a strong proficiency in organic chem and craft myself all kinds of neat and wonderful things.. but alas, I'm not yet at the spot where I can speak the esoteric tongue of carbon bonding, given that I feel that I'm so far away from having a good base to begin learning it.

It feels like gaining any kind of proficiency in this is going to take a very, very long time because there is just so much to learn and so many questions to ask.

Even after learning something, like for example that the Aufbau is technically wrong, or that electrons emit photons after gaining quantumized amounts of energy, there are just so many more questions, like "How then are atoms really built if the aufbau screws up during the transition series" or "Do electrons really store the energy that they absorb, (e.g. become more inherently negatively charged), or is the energy gained in terms of kinetic energy and not "inherent"? "

So even with my earnest mind, I feel that begetting two questions for every fact
is becoming a losing game.

Usually I would be happily sitting along and reading my books trying to gleam ever more amazing -knowledge- from them, but the trend of recent weeks seem to be somewhat different. I feel tired, even lethargic. I feel like I'm overwhelmed and I loathe to even open up a new video or write a new note. It feels like I've bitten off way more than I can chew and now I'm lying on the floor choking to death.

I really have no idea how people make a career in this or learn so much within a 4 year course considering that I myself have a tendency to learn and gain proficiency in things very fast. . I am in no way used to feeling like a complete idiot the more time goes by.

In my self study of chemistry, I feel like I'm staring out into the infinite void.. while the void stares back into me, swallowing me whole.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 00:53


Rather than diving in at organic chem and looking backwards to fill in the gaps, why don't you get a good high school text book and read it through starting with atomic theory. You could even (shudder) do the exercises in the text. Your learning would be rapid.
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radiance88
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 01:00


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Rather than diving in at organic chem and looking backwards to fill in the gaps, why don't you get a good high school text book and read it through starting with atomic theory. You could even (shudder) do the exercises in the text. Your learning would be rapid.


The sarcasm is a bit misplaced I think. I said that I didn't start learning any organic chem because I didn't feel confident enough that my base was strong enough to even start learning it.

..Perhaps it was not worded well enough, I do suffer from that mistake from time to time.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 03:36


are you seeking advice or just telling us about how you feel?

chem is a huge field, but if you ask the right questions, you can expand your skills.

I used to teach high school chem, and I found that the students who did well were the ones who could articulate their understanding of a particular topic and then modify that understanding when corrected.

and I don't know that j_sum1 was being sarcastic btw, I think they were probably just trying to be helpful?
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 04:39


No sarcasm intended. Apologies if I came across that way.
I am serious. Everything builds from a foundation of atomic theory. And a good text (and I know there are some crap ones) a good text will take you systematically through it all with probably clearer explanation than I can give. You could learn a lot fast.
And if there is something specific you don't get, you should find plenty of friendly help on this board.
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deltaH
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 05:59


You don't have to learn all that there is to learn to love something. I have spent the better part of a decade learning chemistry formally and an extra decade before semi-formaly and only scratched the surface all-in-all, such it is in most fields these days because of the sheer size of the body of knowledge.

It's the beauty of chemistry that kept me going all these years, I cannot but marvel at each and every reaction I do, that marvel has not changed much since two decades... just gotten more complex.

You need to enjoy the beauty during the journey, not so much the destination... that destination is unreachable anyhow.

On a side note, I have also found that the deeper you delve into chemistry, the more the sciences mix and it's not just chemistry, but physics and mathematics too, so if you thought you could do it by focussing on just one, I have news for you :P

Not trying to sound patronising, just sharing my experience. Good luck and enjoy!




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Zombie
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 08:19


If it is of any consolation Radiance... I'm 56, and in the exact same boat as you. I pick up everything thru reading, and replicating what I read. Once I see something, and understand the mechanics, it becomes clear, and ingrained.
That being said, This forum has thrown me for a loop. As stated here "science" is much more than baking soda, and vinegar. There are so many genres at play here it IS overwhelming.
I set a "simple" goal for myself, and quickly discovered (here) that neither my goal nor my approach were going to be simple. Never mind the the things I thought I understood... The things I have never even thought of are a monumental hurdle.

I'm just empathizing with you, and venting abit as well. I've decided to narrow my focus, and pursue what I set out to. I now realize it is baby steps. Unfortunately those baby steps will make this journey take longer than I thought but the journey continues. I simply realized I didn't pack the right things for my trip.

Bottom line is I do believe this forum is a very good spring board. There are lots of knowledgeable people in many different disciplines or fields here. They also express an ability to understand each other, and interact/help each other. Just seeing this in action is where the "hope" comes in. If someone else can do something... so can I.
I hope this encourages you in some small way.
Maybe just the fact that you are not alone in the way you feel. This stuff is daunting for sure.




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Chemosynthesis
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 11:00


You are not alone. So much research, in all sciences including chemistry, is done essentially out of this desire, fear, or desperation; despite years of study, a principal investigator still knows so little. It's just that, for a time, they know more than most anyone else in a specific piece of scientific specialty... but even that eventually fades in relevancy as schooling and research continue advancing. Just see a conference, if possible. There will always be questions scientists dodge because they a) haven't considered them, b) don't have funding/knowledge to answer them, and/or c) don't even understand them in totality. And at that level, one is supposed to be an expert.

It's part of the reason a PhD dissertation committee has more than one member. Sure, there are other reasons, like to avoid abusing students for ones' work when their time to reach independence in contribution arrives, but a lot of the committee's purpose is also to convey guidance from a cumulative and group intellect.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 11:18


Quote: Originally posted by radiance88  
So even with my earnest mind, I feel that begetting two questions for every fact is becoming a losing game.


If you view this as a race towards absolute understanding you're right, it's a losing game. You will never know everything there is to know. Heck, you'll never know all that is known today, not even within a single field. Perhaps not even within a small subsection of that field.

That is the price of knowledge, the more you learn the more apparent your own ignorance becomes. Me, I try to focus on what knowledge can do for me. Every time I learn something new it opens up new possibilities. And every piece of knowledge illuminates something new and unknown.

Take a break, enjoy life a bit and try to put some of your knowledge into practice.

Quote:
"Do electrons really store the energy that they absorb, (e.g. become more inherently negatively charged), or is the energy gained in terms of kinetic energy and not "inherent"? "


Me thinks the answer is E=MC^2
In other words, there is no fundamental distinction between mass and energy, and there is no way to distinguish between the absorbed energy from a photon and the inherent mass of the electron (if such a concept even exists).

[Edited on 30-1-15 by Fulmen]
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 11:28


Chemistry is truly infinite! There are new molecules being created all the time and new reactions. All I could say is enjoy the journey.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 11:49


You're definitely not alone.
Personally i'm 48 and took up Chemistry almost exactly 1 year ago.

It is tremendously frustrating, educational, and rewarding, all at the same time.

An understanding of OC ? I'm unsure i have enough years left to get anywhere near it !

The best approach to any Impossibly Large Problem is the same - break it down into acheiveable chunks, and attack that chunk until you conquer it, then move on to the next chunk.

It's a basic survival technique BTW.

Being somewhat eccentric i mostly ignore all that and flap about randomly, enjoying each thing i come across.

As deltaH rightly says, it's all about the Journey, not the Destination.




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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 12:32


I am in the same boat. Ive got about a year in of self study. It seems that often when I read an explanation, it ends with a sentence telling me that what I just read was grossly simplified, and what was really going on is really complicated.
I like what Fulmen said above about focusing on what knowledge can do for you. I decide what I want to try to make, then I try to learn what is going on in that reaction or synthesis. Sometimes, this takes a long, long time. And, the tangents are never ending. Its great to have the internet now, the first time I tried to learn this stuff computers were not available to people like me.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 15:07


aga: I know the feeling. 43 and almost done with 2 years of mechanical engineering myself. Switched from lab technician, so not too much experience except as a hobby.

The best thing about learning new stuff is exactly what Radiance is lamenting, knowledge is the foundation of more knowledge. Now I can see what I need to learn in order to understand problems I didn't even knew existed. That is pretty cool, you just need to accept that things take time.
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[*] posted on 31-1-2015 at 15:07


Time is the thing.

Fundamentally, not a single one of us can Know It All, and practically speaking, no one person could or should.

Best to embark on the journey, and Enjoy and Learn along the way, definitely in that order.




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