View Poll Results: How to understand the frontiers of physics related to the GUT?  
Become any theoreitcal particle physicist  10  66.67%  
Becoming a mathematician  5  33.33%  
Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll 
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Understanding the frontier of physics? 
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#1
Jun3007, 06:25 PM

P: 2,267

It seems that physics is increasingly becoming more mathematical. Would you say that an average mind without any talents in maths or physics but would like to understand the frontiers of physics (more specifically any GUT related theories) although not necessary contriubte to physics would be better off becoming a mathematician?
This occured to me because a professor theoretical particle physicist at my university said he found it hard to understand the second part of "A First Course in String Theory" by Zwiebach, Barton (2004). He also admitted another time while lecturing that his knowledge of maths isn't large. And that he wished he had the time to look into it more. So obviously he is doing research in less maths intensive fields of theoretical particle physics. Obviously it would be best to be a physicist working directly on the GUT but lets assume that dosen't happen. 


#2
Jun3007, 07:45 PM

Mentor
P: 8,316




#3
Jun3007, 08:00 PM

P: 2,267




#4
Jun3007, 08:04 PM

Mentor
P: 8,316

Understanding the frontier of physics?
It seems a bit stupid to start on a career path that one is not going to suceed in! 


#5
Jun3007, 08:13 PM

P: 880

Do you think that Einstein, for example, read EVERY book on physics that was ever published, read every article that was every written, talked to every physicist about all of the known work of every physicist that that ever lived, and knew all the math everywhere on every plane?
 A lot of it depends on the attitude that you have about the things that you learn, what interests drive you to learn, what you believe about what you learn, etc...(learn is the key word, though).  My point was that Einstein probably did READ an enormous amount of work, and probably DID talk to quite a few peoplebut it was WHAT he read, WHAT he thought was important, and what and how he thought about what he did learn that made him a little different. 


#6
Jun3007, 09:33 PM

P: 15

Nearly everyone has some talent for mathematics, the difference is how long it will take you to learn and master the mathematics needed for string theory. Learning the mathematics will probably take less time if you have a talent for maths, and more time if you have less talent. Either way it can be done, given enough time and effort.



#7
Jul207, 04:35 AM

Sci Advisor
P: 4,591




#8
Jul207, 12:06 PM

P: 14

In answer to the original question, I don't think you can get far at all in understanding the details of GUT's, or many other branches of physics, without having some ability with the maths. That said, I don't believe that becoming a mathematician would be useful. I would pursue the theoretical particle physics route, but try to learn all the relevant maths along the way. You never know when it may come in useful regarding more advanced physics.
I have had this same debate at university many times before and the general concensus seems to be that the 2 subjects can be hard to tell apart sometimes. When embroiled in a very lengthy calculation in quantum field theory the final result of the calculation will have physical significance so I am doing physics. But in evaluating all the integrals and manipulating elements of a Grassmann algebra, etc, I am simply doing maths  acting on an expression with a KleinGordon operator doesn't correspond to a physical process, it's simply maths that takes me closer to a final answer. 


#9
Jul207, 01:10 PM

PF Gold
P: 2,907




#10
Jul207, 07:10 PM

P: 2,267




#11
Jul307, 07:54 AM

P: 880

What area/level of physics do you see yourself liking and are comfortable within/as or a combination of?
(analogy below:) do you like the idea about yourself being inventor of the 'brick'? the person doing the 'trial and error' for the composition of the 'brick'? the maker of the 'brick'? the seller of the 'brick'? the hauler of the 'brick'? the worker laying the 'brick'? the owner of the 'brick' home? the demolisher of the 'brick' home? the salvager of the 'brick' of the demolished home? To me, the first deals with theory (the very smallest whole numbertip of the pyramid), the rest applied. Does a person gamble being a theorist with his life (and life's work) for the very small chance to be the discoverer of the 'brick', or 'work' in the area (applied) with the idea/hope/dream of discovering a/the 'brick' along the way? 


#12
Jul307, 10:26 AM

Sci Advisor
P: 4,591

I see myself as the inventor, but I presume that this refers also to most if not all contributors on this subforum.



#13
Jul307, 10:58 AM

P: 880

(about refering to most if not all contributors on this subforum) 


#14
Jul307, 11:30 AM

P: 2,799

I agree with PF's own descendant of Bohm. Though during the last 3 years, I've observed myself desperately trying to "invent things" in various context, to the point where I have now come to take interest in the inventive, and evolutionary process itself. Because I noticed that I could try to invent just about anything, and it often boils down to a set of repeating questions giving me the deja vu sensation. So instead of trying to invent explanations for the presumed reality, I've come to try invent an explanation for the inventive process itself. At first a seemingly circular taks, but on closer lookup it's more evolutionary than circular. My vision is that this will provide an efficient route to a deeper understanding of things.
So I guess while I think of myself as an inventor, I've come to pay more interest in logic of the inventive process itself, and less in the actual inventions. /Fredrik 


#15
Jul307, 12:23 PM

P: 482



#16
Jul307, 01:16 PM

P: 2,799

But I'll be a little bit more fair and at least look at that webpages closer tomorrow. /Fredrik 


#17
Jul307, 02:18 PM

P: 2,799

SetAI, if you advocated the digital physics, do you know these two missing points in the FAQ?
> 5.2 Why is there microscopic reversibility, according to DP? > 5.3 How does DP explain the arrow of the time? (Why does DP suggest that the Universe is a reversible, but not invertible CA?) /Fredrik 


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