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Can a young person get a PhD in physics after a good discovery?

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Many physicist have been awarded their Phd in physics after a long time of study or after a good discovery likr einstein when he was 26 and wrote 5 papers on different subjects in physics . Nowadays if a person started his studies in university in physics at age 19 and he has made a good theoretical discovery at 21 he will be awarded a Phd in physics at age 21 or 22 ?
 

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  • #2
Student100
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Many physicist have been awarded their Phd in physics after a long time of study or after a good discovery likr einstein when he was 26 and wrote 5 papers on different subjects in physics . Nowadays if a person started his studies in university in physics at age 19 and he has made a good theoretical discovery at 21 he will be awarded a Phd in physics at age 21 or 22 ?
No. If only because it's doubtful that such a student, one who has studied in undergraduate for two or three years, understands some sub-field of physics well enough to make a discovery that warrants an honorary granting of a doctorate.

Many such students contribute to physics around that time, but they still have to complete graduate school to earn their degrees.
 
  • #3
SteamKing
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Many physicist have been awarded their Phd in physics after a long time of study or after a good discovery likr einstein when he was 26 and wrote 5 papers on different subjects in physics . Nowadays if a person started his studies in university in physics at age 19 and he has made a good theoretical discovery at 21 he will be awarded a Phd in physics at age 21 or 22 ?
A PhD is not a prize like the ones you find inside a box of Cracker Jacks.

Einstein sat entrance examinations to the ETH when he was 16, and although he received high marks in physics and math, his overall score was not high enough to gain him entry into the school. As a result, Einstein had to continue studying at lower schools for several years in order to be able to do better on future entrance examinations to qualify for university admission. In Switzerland and many other countries in Europe, you don't just go to college because you've finished high school, like many do now in the U.S.

After further study, Einstein passed the entrance examinations to Zurich Polytechnic and enrolled in a math and physics diploma course, which lasted four years. After Einstein graduated from Zurich Poly in 1900, like many young academics today, he was unable to find a teaching job. A friend's father helped Einstein get a job as a temporary patent examiner in the Swiss patent office. After a couple of years as a temporary examiner, Einstein's job became a permanent position.

Einstein finally was awarded his doctorate in physics by the U. of Zurich in 1905 after completing and submitting his thesis on determination of molecular dimensions. It was only after he received his doctorate that Einstein published the papers which established his reputation in theoretical physics, particularly the one on the photoelectric effect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein
 
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Einstein already earned his doctoral degree before he published the 5 papers. None of the 5 papers earned him his doctoral degree. Usually the PhD is earned cumulatively and one "eureka" moment does not cut it.
 
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ZapperZ
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Many physicist have been awarded their Phd in physics after a long time of study or after a good discovery likr einstein when he was 26 and wrote 5 papers on different subjects in physics . Nowadays if a person started his studies in university in physics at age 19 and he has made a good theoretical discovery at 21 he will be awarded a Phd in physics at age 21 or 22 ?
No.

I question your sense of reality, as if making "a good theoretical discovery" at ANY age is a common thing, much less at the age of 21.

Zz.
 
  • #6
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No. I know an undergrad who had a first-author Nature paper his junior year, and still (12+ years later) has not completed a PhD, much less been granted one for the paper. A PhD is about more than just making a contribution (be a big one or a small one) - it's about many years of coursework and exams and working with experts in your field.
 
  • #7
CalcNerd
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Bah and Hogwash is all I can say. Make a simple and fundamental discovery along the lines of Newton (calculus), Carnot (Max energy efficient engine, a simple eq.), Euler (Euler's eq, very simple), Einstein (special relativity or even his famous E=mc^2) and you will have schools begging you to accept an honorary degree from them. All of the above are very simple and easy to understand.... in hindsight!!! However, it is definitely pretentious of you, at the very least (and more like manically egotistical) to think that you actually belong in the above crowd.
.
Two other comments come to mind, "I believe in luck and the harder I work, the luckier I seem to be." is a quote by America's third president. The other is, "There is no royal road to Geometry." by an ancient philosopher. Perhaps you do belong in that first crowd, but 99.999% of us are not part of that group. So for the rest of us, the earlier advice by others will apply. Of course, crackpots and bologna makers will feel otherwise.
 
  • #8
robphy
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As @Student100 stated "...they still have to complete graduate school to earn their degrees."

Indeed, there are requirements for a degree to be awarded.
Look at any dissertation for the phrase
"a thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy."

Concerning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorary_degree
"degree is not recognized by employers as having the same stature as a corresponding earned doctorate degree and should not be represented as such. It is sometimes recommended that such degrees be listed in one's CV as an award, and not in the education section."

Interesting footnote...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson
"....Dyson never got his PhD."
Interesting... Why I don't like the PhD system (Dyson)
 
  • #9
SteamKing
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A school awards someone an honorary degree in return for something like a sizable financial contribution or to collect some favorable press. Politicians, authors, and other celebrity types collect honorary degrees by the bushel, but that doesn't mean they discovered how to split the atom.

With your honorary degree and five bucks, you can get a cup of coffee at just about any Starbucks.
 
  • #10
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Reinforcing Robphy's point, the sentence on one of the front page in many theses is: A thesis submitted in partial (emphasis partial) fulfillment of the requirements for Ph D., meaning coursework, usually at least one semester of teaching, necessary exams such as qualifying and candidacy exams, and even attendance on campus (many schools do not allow thesis in absentia.) fills out the requirements. Some of these requirements might be waived in unusual circumstances, but I do not think the University/Institute would waive all of them.

By analogy, one could ask the question will a medical doctor's degree be awarded for curing a disease, alone, without attending medical school.
 
  • #11
radium
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People who earn honorary degrees often have already gotten a degree in that field from another institution. I know of at least two such examples.
 

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