Jeremy Côté


A Bunch Of Formulas

At the beginning of my physics classes in CÉGEP, I would receive the formula sheet for my entire semester. That meant I had all the formulas on one page, allowing me to scope out what I would be doing in the semester.

At the outset, this is a bit overwhelming. Having all the formulas in front of me tends to make the course seem super complex. Plus, since I’m only beginning my journey through the world of mathematics and physics, I’m not accustomed to a lot of the new equations I see on these pages. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand what these equations even mean when the semester begins.

However, as I go through the material during the semester, it becomes easier to understand the formulas. It’s not magic or because I’m “smart”. Instead, working with the formulas becomes easier with practice and seeing how the formula comes about.

This sounds obvious, but I mention it because there are many people who don’t do science and think it’s some sort of magic that’s happening when we work with these crazy complicated formulas. And sure, to the uninitiated, they are complicated. But that’s because they are looking at the formulas for the first time, with no explanation or context. This is a surefire way to be confused. Indeed, I get confused if I approach new formulas in this way.

That’s why I try to play down situations in which others tell me that mathematics and physics is just too complicated for them. When they tell me this, I say something along the lines of, “Anyone can understand the concepts if they put their mind to it.”

Learn the why behind the equations first, and you’ll be much more satisfied moving forward because you will know what you’re doing.