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Physics Astrophysics as a Career?

  1. Dec 11, 2003 #1

    selfAdjoint

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    Looking at the astro-ph section of the preprint arxiv the last few days I was struck by two things: there ws a fresh flood of papers every day, and nearly every paper had multiple authors. Thinking about how long it takes to produce a paper, that's an awful lot of (presumably funded) work for a lot of people. Is astrophysics one of those niche fields where once you get in you're set for life (like actuarial science)?
     
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  3. Dec 11, 2003 #2

    mathman

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    Some advice from a retired mathematician. In order to have a successful career in science, you must love it. If it simply to achieve financial independence, it won't work.
    As far as astrophysics is concerned, you will have to have a good background in math, physics, and astronomy. Moreover, you will probably work in many different areas in your lifetime. Finally, you will most likely end up in an academic environment.
     
  4. Dec 11, 2003 #3

    Phobos

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    My impression is no, there is a huge competition for funding, telescope time, etc. I think astrophysics is one of those fields where you have to keep publishing papers in order to stay competitive.
     
  5. Dec 11, 2003 #4
    I think this is true, but it's only a start. You must also be very smart and mathematically gifted (at least for physics and astronomy). You must also put up with those aspects of the job which you may not have thought of when you decided to become a scientist: the frustrating search for funding, academic administrata, departmental politics, the difficult road to tenure. You also have to ask yourself exactly what it is you love about science. Perhaps you like the pretty pictures of galaxies and the formal beauty of Einstein's field equations, while being ignorant of all the messy, tedious, and time-consuming work that goes on behind the scenes (e.g. data reduction)? There's lots to consider before embarking on a career as a scientist.
     
  6. Dec 12, 2003 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    I wasn't thinking of changing careers! I'm 70 and retires! The question was just one of interest. And I think I got my answer; "publish or perish" accounts for the data as well as a snug employment niche.
     
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