What is Physicist: Definition and 646 Discussions

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe.
Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms.
Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole.
The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena.
Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies (also known as applied physics or engineering physics).

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  1. S

    RIP physicist Arno Penzias, 1978 Nobel Laureate in physics

    Arno Penzias, who along with physicist Robert Woodrow Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation and was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics, has died on Jan 22, 2024, age 90. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arno_Allan_Penzias#cite_note-:0-3...
  2. J

    Choosing a Session: A Physicist from the Future Drinks Rum During Q&A

    The premise is straight forward: A physicist from 100 years in the future grants a serious Q&A with physicists of today by issuing tickets whereby the questioners had to choose to attend one of three consecutive one hour sessions, A, B, or C. The physicist from the future tells everyone that he...
  3. R

    Quantum What books/materials/subjects are needed to understand String Theory?

    Hi, I have heard all this hype about a Physicist named Ed Witten and how instrumental he is to something called “String Theory”. I tried listening to one of his lectures on YouTube and reading one of his papers and I couldn’t follow anything. I was hoping to figure out the prerequisite...
  4. M

    Physicist's Tool Box?

    I came across an article about a particle physicist who made a custom case for his calipers, radius gauges, and screw pitch gauges. The project, available here, turned out nice. The article had me wondering, do physicists rely on calipers that much in the laboratory? I'm curious, what other hand...
  5. Natanis_Likens

    Exploring the Works of Physicist Norma G. Sanchez & Star Analysis

    There's a some things I've been wanting to look into for a while now I just don't know where to access that kind of information. 1. I'm interested in any information/journals concerning Physicist Norma G. Sanchez (I might be wrong on her title, please correct me if I am) work on a unifying...
  6. A

    How much statistical mechanics is enough for a physicist?

    How much statistical mechanics do I need to know to study QFT, astrophysics, black hole thermodynamics, and other advanced topics? And where should I study it in your opinion? So far I have only read Tong's notes however I don't think it is enough. Some quantum statistical mechanics is also...
  7. S

    I Gravitation Machine Invented? Research Idea

    First, please excuse my english first, Does anyone know who already had invented or built such a machine ?, which it can float in air by gravitation change (It can also be move up and down and move back and forth by manipulate and changes gravity force inside the machine. I have an idea but...
  8. JordanBolds

    Physics From biomedical engineering to bio-physics to medical physicist

    Hi everyone! I am also very new to this PhysicsForm site, hopefully I am not interrupting any conversation with this question. I have been thinking about switching from biomedical engineering to bio-physics as an undergrad degree with aspirations of eventually becoming a medical physicist. I do...
  9. M

    Programs I'm a medical physicist, how can I get into astronomy/astrophysics?

    Hi, I'm a recently graduated medical physicist (currently also working as a medical physicist) and I still have a thirst for physics, especially astronomy and astrophysics which are my hobbies. The problem is that we were only taught pure physics and mathematics during the first 2 years of our...
  10. S

    Other Becoming a successful Physicist or other -earlier preparations

    Maybe this question belongs in Career Guidance board? As prompted in https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/how-to-become-a-successful-physicist.1045728/post-6803003 I ask my question as new topic: How or what do successful scientists or engineers do BEFORE ever reaching university? I would...
  11. apostolosdt

    Studying "How to become a successful physicist"

    An interesting article has appeared in Physics Today, Vol. 75, Issue 9 (2022), p. 46., "How to become a successful physicist," by Carl Wieman of Stanford.
  12. A

    Physicist monkey and vending machine story

    So a friend who works in physics told a story at a party the other day I find very interesting that now I just got to find a place with other physicists to ask if he's telling the truth or maybe downed one too many shots. He told a story where a tribe extremely smart monkeys one day finds a...
  13. Frabjous

    The Education of a Physicist (1965)

    Some quotes from the book from the PhysicsToday book review. https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.3034185 Many would not be out of place today.
  14. Joel_Entrup

    Is it possible to become a theoretical physicist with a 120 IQ?

    An IQ of 120 is plenty good, but the average IQ of Physics and Astronomy majors is higher. It's even higher for brilliant theoretical physicists and Physics PhD holders. So is it possible, with enough hard work and dedication, that someone with a 120 IQ could become a theoretical physicist? Or...
  15. orochi

    Learning about condensed matter physics as a particle physicist

    I am on my first year of my master's degree in nuclear and particle physics, and right now i am ending my first semester, where i decided to take a course in physics of semiconductors. As i end this semester i start to wonder if there was any use in learning about this subject, as it seems like...
  16. S

    Is there any physicist doing research who was once an astronaut?

    Is there any former astronaut who is now doing research in theoretical physics (like e.g string theory)?
  17. orochi

    Courses Learning Parallel Computation as a particle physicist

    I am starting my Master's Degree in Nuclear and Particle Physics, should i invest in taking a course in Parallel Computation? I know the role that Parallel Computation has in particle physics, but is there any use in a particle physicst learning about parallel computation, or could it be...
  18. S

    Other How to become an amateur physicist

    Hi, I'm a recently graduated software engineer. During my time at university I had initially planned to double major in both physics and computer science but eventually dropped physics since I didn't expect that I would pursue a PhD for monetary reasons. I really enjoyed physics during my time...
  19. Volatile_Miniworld

    Job Skills Astronomer to Med Physicist or Dosimetrist - UK or US

    Well, I have a bit of a complicated situation and I'd love some advice. I'm a US/UK citizen living and working in London, UK at the moment. My husband and I are currently looking at moving back to the US in 2-3 years. My background is in physics/astrophysics - B.S. Physics (Maths minor) from a...
  20. B

    Programs Study in Canada or the UK to become a physicist?

    Hello everyone. I am an international student going for my undergraduate studies in physics. I want to go to the University of Toronto and the University of Manchester, but I am unable to choose between the two. Which of the two universities is best to study physics, can give me a better chance...
  21. Phylosopher

    How should a physicist learn Machine Learning?

    Hello everyone, I am currently a master student working on physics and neural networks. I have already started producing neural network results (I use tensorflow and keras) so I know how to program the basic things that I am required to do, the problem is that I do not understand them well. I...
  22. A

    Do all great scientists possess a genius level IQ ?

    I've wanted to become a mathematical physicist for as long as I can remember. Hailing from a rather small place in India , I usually found myself smarter than the people around me .This gave me confidence that I'm going to make a great physicist one day . But now as a 12th grader who has moved...
  23. A

    Programs Should I become a physicist or a mathematician?

    I am a person who likes to think deep and can't keep himself from delving deeper into concepts. Even though math is the subject in which I outshine my counterparts, it is physics that I find more fascinating. Also I feel that physics gives math a sense of direction to work upon. But I am a...
  24. Fikremariam

    Studying Where shall I start? (16 y/o wanting to become quantum physicist)

    I am a 16 years old boy who have adream to become quantum physicist but IAM also aboy who doesn't know the beginningof the road so I thought maybe some comments will be helpful so tell me where shall I start?
  25. CallMeDirac

    Who was the most influential and important physicist?

    Who, in your opinion was or is the most influential physicist. Was it Feynman and his diagrams and lectures. Was it Dirac with his work on positrons. Was it Einstein and his general relativity. Who do you think and why.
  26. ClimberT8

    Physicist and Data Scientist in Ed Tech

    How did you find PF?: Searching for "high school and college physics teachers discussion forums" I am a "kiddo" in Physics, like Dr. Jill Biden ;-) and following a highly anti-recommended circuitous path have ended up doing data seance. That should tell you everything you need to know about my...
  27. Hacker Jack

    What is the reality of being a physicist?

    Who are the people that work on the ground breaking theories and the major discoveries, the big stuff! Why aren't most physicists the next Einstein or "Insert famous scientist here" and what do they work on for their day to day work? I wonder this because a lot of people who don't know much...
  28. sa1988

    Pure Physicist - A physics simulator app

    There are plenty of physics apps around already but most seem to just be words and pictures. I haven't found many that offer good simulators for proper textbook physics. So I made one. Pure Physicist - Google Play The underlying physics 'engine' uses the as yet incomplete University Physics...
  29. bhobba

    I The Physicist & Philosopher: Einstein vs. Bergson Debate

    Hi All Got an interesting audiobook I am listening to right now - The Physicist and The Philosopher - a debate between Henri Bergson and Einstein - on relativity. It is conceded Einstein won. But the thing I find strange is Einstein did not bring out the best argument of all - it's basis on...
  30. K

    Programs Radiation Therapist to Medical Dosimetrist or Physicist

    Hello! I’m currently in the process of earning my bachelors of science in radiation therapy. I plan to get my masters in dosimetry, but I was wondering if anyone know if it was possible for a medical dosimetrist to advance their career by earning their PhD in medical physics. Essentially, I’m...
  31. BigPapaSmurf123

    Physics How to become a Certified Medical Physicist in the UK?

    Hello there! I am currently studying Astrophysics (3rd year) in Scotland and would like to shift my premature career path into medical physics. Now, I have few questions that I cannot answer online so I though it would be better to do it here. Here we go.. My question is how to actually...
  32. FreeRoger

    Physics Becoming a Theoretical Physicist: Advice for 13-Year-Old

    Hi - I'm a 13 year old and I am incredibly interested in theoretical physics. I have studied physics since the first grade. I love math and physics to possibly a fault. However, I'm scared that I do not have what it takes to become a theoretical physicist. I have studied my way up to vector...
  33. N

    Are difficult textbook problems enough to "think like a physicist"?

    So I made a previous post regarding developing sufficient quantitative background to go into a field that's effectively applied physics (or "theoretical biophysics" but that just sounds a bit ridiculous).I think I can rephrase my issue as not one of choosing a better major, but lacking a certain...
  34. G

    Physics Industry job prospects for a condensed matter computational physicist

    I'm working on a PhD in condensed matter computational physics, particularly with method development. My plan is to go into industry afterwards, and out of curiosity I've been looking at job listings. It doesn't look good to be honest. Listings for physicists mainly require some type of lab...
  35. W

    Can a dosimetrist with an M.S. become a medical physicist PhD?

    Hi, I am new here and I am pursuing a BS in radiation therapy and I am planning on becoming a Dosimetrist hopefully sometime in the future and I am wondering if a dosimetrist can become a medical physicist? has it been done before and how would the process look like? hard/easy? any alternative...
  36. T

    My cloudy future as a physicist

    I wanted to dedicate my life to physics but I've come to a point in my life where it seems that my dreams are shattering... I'll not go into many details, I just wanted to share somewhere my concerns and perhaps get some advice. I always had an interest in science and when I was a kid I even...
  37. T

    I Need to identify a physicist from a documentary on TV some years ago

    I remember watching some documentary on TV some years ago and in it, they were mentioning how there was a physicist who was doing some research on radioactive elements in the laboratory, but because he was little bit crazy he believed that the fez hat he wore on his head would protect him from...
  38. M

    Physics Physicist and Entrepreneurism in the Future

    Hello, I will do my best to keep my question brief. I love physics and mathematics, and before anything in my life I felt the need to commit to this degree to simply be happy in life as I feel the absolute need to further understand everything around me. I plan to eventually work for myself...
  39. D

    Physics Inventor and physicist, what to study?

    I want to be an inventor that focuses on physics, I have the chance to study university but I don’t know what is the best career. I know inventing is much more than a degree, but I wanted to know which degree or degrees would help me more?
  40. R

    I Young physicist in seek of guidance

    Is there anyone on here who could help me fill in my gaps in quantum field theory up to renormalization? I know how to canonically quantize a theory and how to use scalars (spin 0), vectors (spin 1) and spinors (spin 1/2) but lack more advanced knowledge like renormalization which I could...
  41. A

    Physics Applied physicist, summer internship - panicking

    I am about to commence a 3 month summer internship as an applied physicist. The job role involves working within the R&D department performing on the bench experimentation involving optical and electromagnetic sensing and analysis using python. Having finished my University exams on June the...
  42. Gazing at the Stars

    Physics Opportunities for an Aspiring Physicist

    Hello, everybody! I've been interested in physics for quite a while. I have a passion for learning and have discovered that I truly love this area of study. I am particularly interested in research, perhaps dealing with astrophysics or quantum mechanics. However, I have been warned by many...
  43. O

    Are physics and fundamental chemistry only necessary to become a physicist?

    Does the understanding and application of physics and fundamental chemistry is only required to be physicist? Or you have to be be equally apt in chemistry??
  44. JD_PM

    Physics Essential skills for applying for Space Agency jobs as a physicist

    Hi Physics Forums community. Let me briefly explain my current state of affairs. Next season, if every goes as planned, I will begin my Master's in Physics. I have, what I call, a positive problem; I like lots of branches of Physics (I study Physics because of pure passion and not because I...
  45. brotherbobby

    Rotating physicist and momentum conservation

    We are aware of the well-known problem of a rotating physicist whose angular velocity ω increases as a consequence of angular momentun conservation (##I_1 \omega_1 = I_2 \omega_2, \Sigma \tau_e = 0##). I am assuming that the net external force (##\Sigma F_e##) is also zero along with the net...
  46. W

    Physics Career options for a physicist (MSc)

    Hi PF, I graduated (MSc) six months ago with a 3.7/4.0 GPA and is still unemployed. During my time at university, I focused on my studies and did not give my future work life much thought. Consequently, I do not really know what my options are as a physicist. Sure, after reading countless job...
  47. gleem

    All I (as a physicist) really Need to Know ....

    I rediscovered this article , an opinion column in Physics Today from May 1993 by a NASA research physicist who after reading Robert Fulghum's book "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" made a list of what he thinks every physicist needs to know. What do you think? Can you add...
  48. Spacepantz86

    Can someone discuss the holographic principle and dimensions with me?

    Hello all. I just would like to have an open discussion with someone that knows physics, cause I do not and everyone I know does not either lol. I have ideas I would like to understand better but it does not belong on these forums, I was wondering if anyone would like to take the time, to...
  49. LLD1231

    Physicist Personalities & Traits

    I always think of physicists as a special breed apart. As a novelist, I’m very curious about the characteristics and personalities of physicists and often wonder if I have the ‘big picture’, so to speak. For instance, what types of things do you do or say in your everyday life, in...
  50. Quantum_Arcanium

    Physics Want to become Theoretical Physicist but don't know Coding

    Hi, I am an aspiring Theoretical Physicist. I've heard that you need to know many programming languages to become a Physicist, but I have never learned a single programming language in my life and I am 16-17 years old now. Is there any chance of me still becoming one? Is there anything I can do...