1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are there any professors here?

  1. Jun 26, 2011 #1
    First of all, I am a rising Senior in high school. I plan on becoming a research professor. I plan on double majoring in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering during my undergrad studies. Why do I want to take a such drastic path of life? Well, my life long ambition is to understand and speak the language of God. I am pretty sure most of you can connect. I want to do research in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, massively parallel computing, traditional computer architectures and similar topics. Very ambitious goals indeed. But that just fits my personality.

    Now, anyone have any advice for me? I plan on jumping into research as soon as I can; hopefully the latest by the summer of Freshman year. I am not doing any "research" right now, I am just reviewing Physics and teaching myself Calculus with single then multi variables. Then I have to figure out how to get the image from a webcam... That is another issue.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Uhmm... if your doing what you're doing "to understand and speak the language of God", you might want to consider figuring out a better reason to pursue a certain major.
  4. Jun 26, 2011 #3
    I taught myself C++ when I was 11; I have tried everything from Football to Robotics. I am not a good athlete, I love programming and creating. I am a total nerd at heart. I don't just want to major in physics; I want to go further and apply the knowledge.So that is engineering. Why a professor? I get to research in usually on the more theoretical side of things than compared to research in the private sector.
  5. Jun 27, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I think the closest thing to the "Language of God" is mathematics. When I say mathematics I don't just mean conventional math like in a math degree, but the entire collection of math in every developed (or developing) science which includes not only mathematics and statistics, but computer science, economics, linguistics, and so on.

    Also I should clarify what I mean by "math". My "math" in this context is any kind of high level abstract linguistic mechanism to describe and analyze things in the most generic way possible. In this definition I would include things like grammars such as BNF a form of "math".

    There is also another element of math which is the heuristic and reductionist approach. In many different fields you'll find that experts are able to give an almost axiomatic (not quite, but almost) description of some phenomena. In fact we all do it without realizing that we are doing it. I'll give an example.

    Let's say you get a job under someone, like for example an apprenticeship. The master then spends a few (maybe ten) minutes outlining the main job to you. He (or she) has basically condensed perhaps ten or twenty years into ten minutes.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that scientists attempt to do (in theory) in their scientific discipline. They are reducing a vast array of experiences, anecdotes, experiments, and external information down into something that is minimal. This is the ultimate dream of the theorist: to reduce an entire body of knowledge down into its minimal representation.

    So in closing, I recommend you not only devour as much math as possible, but I also recommend that you connect it in non-trivial ways to things to other areas of study, so that it will help you see how math is used outside of the orthodox contexts that you will find in traditional settings.
  6. Jun 27, 2011 #5
    You say you "want to go further and apply the knowledge," but that you also want to "research in usually on the more theoretical side of things"? Can you see how those goals might be somewhat conflicting?

    What kind of background do you have in quantum mechanics, computer architecture, and/or AI? Any one of those topics is something people devote their entire lives to; "planning," as you put it, to perform research in all of them betrays a naive understanding of their respective complexities and the limits of a finite lifetime. In fact, "planning" to become a research professor is already rather presumptuous. I'm certainly not saying it'll never happen--you may be the next Feynman for all I know. However, even with an extraordinary amount of talent and enthusiasm, becoming a research professor is still not something you can count on. "Hope to" might be a better wording than "plan on."

    As far as advice goes, you seem to have plenty of motivation, which is great. Make sure you stay realistic in your ambitions, though. Saying you have a life-long ambition at all at your age is a bit of a stretch--remember, you probably still have a good 3/4 of your life ahead of you! And quit with this "understanding and speaking the language of God" spiel: quite apart from that wording's ability to seriously tick some people off, thinking like that is setting you up for some major disappointments later on.

    For now, just concentrate on acclimatizing to college, doing well in your classes, and learning your math and physics cold. It's awesome that you want to do research as soon as possible, but make sure you can handle a time commitment like that in addition to classes before you sign up for it. Keep the enthusiasm, but add a touch of humility to it, and you could go much further.

    As for the webcam thing, try Google, or simply take a screenshot if you can get the image up on your screen.

    P.S. I hope I don't come across as sounding too harsh in this post. I really do admire your zeal at your age, and I hope you're able to follow it as far as you want. With the exception of my first paragraph, all questions are sincere and non-rhetorical.
  7. Jun 27, 2011 #6
    I found that "plan on" is more affirmative than "wish" or "hope". Well, I believe that all limits are self imposed; which means that the attitude is everything. Sure, I sound very dogmatic and quixotic, but I believe it is that persistence that will help me reach my goals. Also, about setting my goals too high, I would disagree with you. I would rather shoot for the stars and land on the moon than shooting for the moon. What background do I have? Actually, I have not heard of any teenager who was able to work on quantum computers before. But I have read up on them. Also with computer architectures, have not heard of any teenager who makes CPUs or GPUs from scratch. But I have taught myself Assembly. I better learn the PowerPC syntax too. AI? Well, working on that right now... But then I have to get images off of the webcam in real time. The thing with the webcam is that I am trying to program some object recognition software, I am having an hard time finding any libraries that would allow me to get the image using the Windows kernel.
  8. Jun 27, 2011 #7
    Become a priest and learn classic Greek and Hebrew (or classical Arabic).

    One thing that you will find if you go into research is its a lot more mundane than you think, and the more you understand, the more you understand that you don't understand. Learning about something in science and engineering is a certain way of being confused about it, and so if your purpose in life is "clarity" rather than "confusion" you really need to go into theology and not science or engineering.

    Pick one. If you try to understand everything, you will end up understanding nothing, so what ends up happening is that you find one narrow topic that you spend a several decades of your life trying to understand. You don't have to decide what that topic is, and a lot of it depends on "what looks interesting."

    That's a good idea. You'll find that most of research is grunt work. That will give you an idea of whether or not you want to do it.
  9. Jun 27, 2011 #8
    If you believe that all limits are self imposed then why don't you became a great athlete? Also if you really are persistent then why not be persistent at sports? Why not shoot for the stars and land for the moon with sports? Anybody can read though. You should've spent that time on mathematics instead.
  10. Jun 27, 2011 #9
    You'll quickly find otherwise. You end up with some limits that are imposed by the laws of physics, namely time. You *could* be a master chess player, or an olympic athlete, or a Nobel prize winning physicist. But you only have time to train for one of the three.

    There are also economic limits. You haven't noticed them yet because your parents are paying the bills, but you'll start noticing how important money is once you have to pay your own way.

    Or not. One thing is that you haven't stated any clear goals. Just a wish list. Nothing wrong with that.

    But you have to choose whether you want to aim for Venus or Jupiter. They are in different parts of the sky.

    Also it's nice to have unrealistic goals as long as you realize that they are unrealistic. My goal has always been a starship captain, but I was unfortunately born a few centuries too early for that.

    What gets people into a lot of trouble is that if they have a goal, but no backup plan, or even the inability go consider failure.

    I'd give up on windows and use linux. The source code for some of the webcams are available

    see http://www.ideasonboard.org/uvc/

    And it will get you some experience writing device drivers. Also for OCR look at


    What you'll find is that you will end up with a hideous amount of time trying to get all of this working and compiled, but that will be an introduction into the world of research.
  11. Jun 28, 2011 #10
    Well, the reason why I did not state Linux was the fact that my linux rig is like 8 years old so it is unbearable to do any computations with. I can't put linux on this computer because it is my mom's computer...
  12. Jun 28, 2011 #11
    Also david if you're fat, you should lose weight. I believe there's a heavy relation with how your brain and body work. Meaning if your body is sluggish, then so is your brain. And if you're brain is sluggish,.. well you're screwed anyway. But to gain optimum performance, you need a better health.
  13. Jun 28, 2011 #12
    Install VirtualBox on your mom's computer and then run linux inside of VirtualBox

  14. Jun 28, 2011 #13
    Yea, I have gotten fat after football season was finished. I haven't been able to work out for a long time because my mom wants me to focus on academics. I'll get back to it.
    That reminds me, I can use my PS3. I can also mess with multi threading too. My PS3 still runs linux, I have not updated since Sony took the OtherOS feature out.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Are there any professors here?
  1. Any Professors here (Replies: 16)

  2. Any UC transfers here? (Replies: 16)