Question and answer.

I got it horribly wrong: I didn’t understand the question, and I thought about it the wrong way, and now that I know the answer I don’t understand it.  I think I got out of this stuff just in time.  Here, in short, is a fair summary of my illustrious science career:

1. There’s a bunch of equations.  Memorize which equations go with what situation.  Plan Nobel speech.

2. Take test, applying equations to appropriate situations.  Do symbolic manipulation as appropriate.  When in doubt, remember that the answer is always either 0 or -pi/2.  Daydream about winning the Nobel Prize for discovering that the answer to all questions about the physical universe is always either 0 or -pi/2.

3. (Optional)  At some point, months or years later, apropos of nothing, suddenly realize Oh!  That’s why stress (say) is a tensor (for example)!  It’s actually rather simple, and it couldn’t really be any other way, could it? Finish flossing your teeth.

4. (Mandatory) To the extent that you ever “got it” conceptually, stop getting it.  If you must, you can remember tiny, orphan fragments of it.  Example: Thermodynamics, huh?  Well, as I remember, it turns out that temperature is the slope of the derivative of, like, the partition function?  Entropy?  Well, something you wouldn’t expect anyway.  Yup, I surely learned a lot of useful shit in college. Tell yourself you just forgot “the equations,” as if that were like forgetting to say “What is …” before answering on Jeopardy.  Wonder if anybody has ever looked for a possible connection between flossing and amnesia.

5. (Projected) Win back-to-back-to-back NBA slam dunk crowns.  Go to LHC, wait for someone to walk in carrying a Nobel prize.  Grab it, dunk it right in their face.  MY HOUSE, POINDEXTER!

Anyway, my point is that back in my day we had it tough because we didn’t have stuff like this.  You could probably skip right to step 3 with that.