I was never good at physics. It was the only class in college I would have failed out of, if not for a rather generous curve boosting me to a C. The teacher's open disdain for undergraduates combined with a 100+ student honors class meant he taught to those that would be physics majors and no one else. If I was alone in my confusion, I surely would have had to face the embarrassment of retaking the course.
Which is all to say that, as an adult, I have taken it upon myself to learn physics. Not the indulgent pop-science of Michio Kaku that I dabbled in when I was young. But textbooks, and math, and practice problems, and only the most serious end of the learn-things-for-fun industry's physics community.
I am still not really any good.
But to be fair, physics doesn't fit my personal taste or abilities well at all. Perhaps it's my lack of understanding, but I've noticed something over and over again, a pattern that is honestly bizarre: causeless constraints on the effects of things. There isn't a reason the result happens, but something must happen, so, ya know, something does.
For example, let's say you burn elemental hydrogen. Chemistry can tell us, you take in diatomic hydrogen and oxygen and end up with water molecules equal to the number of hydrogen molecules and oxygen atoms. We know their weights and the energy released.
But let's take that last statement. Energy is released. It is perhaps a more appropriate metaphor than I knew as a student. Because oxygen is a lower energy state for the atoms. That's all.
It's a lower energy state, but the energy can't just vanish, so it heats things up. Or emits light. Or does some random combination of these things. In which way does the light go? If the new molecules are pushed, in which direction do they go? Is there additional information I could get to answer those questions?
It's possible that there is no way to answer the question about what happens, where things go. In some areas of physics, it certainly seems as though there exists true randomness in selection between options that conserve energy and follow all the other relevant constraints. Some systems, like inside a neutron star, seem to be defined by their constraints in such a way that they would break any other possible understanding of their mechanics. Things don't push against each other – degeneracy pressure is like a constraint forcing things to move, and only then because you can't have two of a thing, perhaps the most fundamental constraint.
I don't mind randomness. I know some physicists were bothered by it. It forecloses the opportunity to discover additional, hidden or unknown constraints, but if that's reality, that doesn't bother me like it sounds like it bothered Einstein. My issue is that, if there is basic randomness in selection between constrained options, I don't really know what it means to cause something anymore. Presumably it means, to alter the constraints, even if reality is always, inescapably under-constrained. I suppose I should be fine with that. But it's bizarre.
I suspect physics will never truly suit me.