Are many Physics Students entering into Astrophysics?

In summary: That's definitely not the case w/ most astronomers!But like there are people in all fields of work that don't want to do anything but "think" and they are fine w/ that. That's definitely not the case w/ most astronomers!
  • #1
warhammer
151
31
Maybe it is my present circle but I see a lot of students pursuing Astrophysics and related domains in terms of projects, Master's Degree etc. and I wonder what are the reasons for the same.

Is the field extremely "hot" or is it just saturation caused by excessive Pop Sci influence?

Full disclosure - Even I was fascinated by Astrophysics based on my exposure to Pop Sci during my High School. However I noticed a shift from my University Days when I realised I appreciated other fields equally well (reading about them in a sense gave me intellectual orgasms to say the least!).

While that appetite for Astrophysics is certainly there, I do not want to commit to any particular specialisation right now. To be fair, I feel a lot of those Astrophysics pursuants haven't really explored other Physical branches and are simply playing on their hunches - fascinations based on Pop Sci. Which is not bad per se, but it is often said and remarked that there is whole lot of distinction between that and "real, hard science" that actually goes on into that.

This is not particularly a post asking for guidance, but maybe to stoke a discussion. But if you are older and more experienced than me, feel free to drop your guiding thoughts!
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
warhammer said:
Maybe it is my present circle but I see a lot of students pursuing Astrophysics and related domains in terms of projects, Master's Degree etc. and ...
That's a highly subjective "data point". I think before trying to draw conclusions about a data point, you should work more towards validating the data.
 
  • #3
phinds said:
That's a highly subjective "data point". I think before trying to draw conclusions about a data point, you should work more towards validating the data.
To be honest, the post is not that objective in the true sense. As mentioned explicitly it is meant to stoke discussion. 'Maybe' & 'Present Circle' itself lend anecdotal nature to it.

I wanted to change the heading more appropriately lest someone else also think I am inferring ill drawn conclusions but the character limit wouldn't let me do that. So I amply described it in the post.
 
  • #4
Your subject line presupposes a conclusion. "So many physics students are entering into Astrophysics" but I see what you mean about the character limit in the title.

EDIT: At any rate, I think we've beat that horse to death and now if anyone has anything to contribute other than my nitpicking, the thread can continue :smile:
 
  • #5
phinds said:
Your subject line presupposes a conclusion. "So many physics students are entering into Astrophysics" but I see what you mean about the character limit in the title.

EDIT: At any rate, I think we've beat that horse to death and now if anyone has anything to contribute other than my nitpicking, the thread can continue :smile:
Edited the title 😁
 
  • #6
My anecdotal observation from perusing social media sites (i.e. the Reddit Graduate Admissions forum, my local Reddit Undergraduate Admissions forum, and GradCafe ) is that there does indeed seem to be an uptick in interest in Cosmology and Astrophysics programs. I attribute it to the increased incidence of reporting in the news and in popular media of astrophysical discoveries that have arisen from the James Webb telescope in particular. There's also hype from Space X and other space startups that are generating interest in "space sciences" amongst prospective undergrads and grad students.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes warhammer
  • #7
I think there are also some science-driven reasons in going into astrophysics/cosmology right now. One is that an entire new window has been opened by the detection of gravitational waves, and we are only at the beginning with that but already some very promising results, including the observation of a kilonova in both gravitational-wave and various frequency ranges of electromagnetic signals ("multi-messenger astronomy"). Then there's of course also the James Webb space telescope in operation. In cosmlogy there's kind of a new crisis in consolidating the Hubble-constant tension.
 
  • Like
Likes warhammer
  • #8
I think that as we become a ChatGPT nation (or world, or whatever), there will be an increasing political push for make-work jobs - not because they contribute to the economy, but because folks are going to be getting a lot of welfare, and everyone wants everyone else to put in "an honest day's work" to get it. An easy way to achieve this is to let intellectuals (who are the most dangerous class of folks to have unemployed, with respect to political stability) have an intellectual career, and astronomy fits the bill as well as any liberal art discipline would. Finding life on other worlds is an existential desire for all sentient beings, and thus astronomers will be able to fill this niche in the make-work universe (pun intended).
 
  • Skeptical
Likes Frabjous
  • #9
So you really think you can shoehorn "intellectuals" into being astronomers???

I agree w/ you that most folks want an honest days work but I think the rest of your post is out of touch with reality.
 
  • Like
Likes Frabjous
  • #10
phinds said:
So you really think you can shoehorn "intellectuals" into being astronomers???

I agree w/ you that most folks want an honest days work but I think the rest of your post is out of touch with reality.
How so? Do you not think that ChatGPT is going to be a sledgehammer whacking away at professional careers? If you agree with the Sledgehammer Principle, then do you not agree that there will be a political impetus for make-work? Please elucidate!
 
  • #11
How would you like to have a pointless "make-work" job?
 
  • #12
phinds said:
How would you like to have a pointless "make-work" job?
If that is what the economic paradigm dictates, I will do it. The beauty of a make-work job is that since it is make-work, there will not be any impetus for the work to be stressful, and there will be a lot of leeway for folks to choose a field that they really have a passion for (and as well be able to move into another field later if their passion changes). While this will be a paradigm in which intellectuals will find proper agency, I admit that it will be more difficult for non-intellectuals, be they white-collar or blue-collar. I really think that fixing the carbon problem and the "end of work" will be the main (non-political) problems to be worked in the 21st Century.
 
  • #13
gwnorth said:
My anecdotal observation from perusing social media sites (i.e. the Reddit Graduate Admissions forum, my local Reddit Undergraduate Admissions forum, and GradCafe ) is that there does indeed seem to be an uptick in interest in Cosmology and Astrophysics programs. I attribute it to the increased incidence of reporting in the news and in popular media of astrophysical discoveries that have arisen from the James Webb telescope in particular. There's also hype from Space X and other space startups that are generating interest in "space sciences" amongst prospective undergrads and grad students.
Interestingly I was having a chat with my Professor and he was referring to the same. To be fair I belong to a country where undergrad exposure to research is EXTREMELY low, negligible almost. So particularly in my context, it is surprising to see a big chunk of physics grads going for it when they haven't even 'tasted' other specialisations. I suspect they are purely motivated through the PopSci content and the hype you mentioned.

For full disclosure, I too was gung ho over Astrophysics, Cosmology et al as we journeyed from HS to university, of course because the mind was fermented with the comprehensible (and popular) debates, videos amongst the populariser group (Tyson, Kaku, Greene etc). Once I had my own exposure, that interest still remains but now I am in a position where I find other sub-fields equally interesting such as in CMP and in QFTs too (I'm yet to decide on a specialisation/problem).

Of course not projecting my own journey but to me it seems a lot of my peers are in a silo because I do know for a certainty that they do not have the exposure equivalent to mine (remarked with full humility), atleast a notable chunk!
 
  • Like
Likes gwnorth

1. What is the difference between physics and astrophysics?

Physics is the study of matter, energy, space, and time at the fundamental level. Astrophysics is a branch of physics that specifically focuses on the study of the physical properties and behavior of objects and phenomena in the universe, such as stars, galaxies, and black holes.

2. What skills do physics students need to enter into astrophysics?

Physics students who are interested in pursuing a career in astrophysics should have a strong foundation in mathematics, as well as a deep understanding of fundamental physics principles. They should also have strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work with large datasets and computer simulations.

3. Are there any specific courses or programs that can prepare students for a career in astrophysics?

Yes, there are many universities that offer specialized programs or courses in astrophysics, such as astrophysics majors or concentrations within physics departments. These programs typically cover a wide range of topics including astrophysics theories, observational techniques, and computational methods.

4. Is there a high demand for astrophysicists in the job market?

Yes, there is a growing demand for astrophysicists in various industries, including academia, government agencies, and private companies. With the advancements in technology and the increasing interest in space exploration, the demand for professionals with a background in astrophysics is expected to continue to grow in the future.

5. What are some potential career paths for physics students interested in astrophysics?

There are many career paths that physics students can pursue in astrophysics, such as research positions at universities or research institutes, data analysis roles at space agencies, or positions in the private sector, such as at aerospace companies. Some students may also choose to pursue a career in science communication or education, using their knowledge in astrophysics to teach and inspire others.

Similar threads

Replies
2
Views
551
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
4
Views
63
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
6
Views
3K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
7
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
15
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
1
Views
35
Back
Top