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Can one become an ameteur Mathematician or Physisict still?

  1. Jul 10, 2004 #1
    I wasn't sure where to start this thread, but I figured a forum where people give advice to college age students is a good cabdidate.

    I am 24 year old Computer Engineer working for one of the major corporations in this field. I like writing RTL and software (though there are drawbacks to doing it for a big corporation). I have a lot of ideas I want to try out, and can usually find ways to have fun doing my job. So I would like to continue in this field.

    However, I have always been interested in Math and Physics and would like to contribute those fields if I could. I fancied either being an ameteur, publishing every once in a while, or starting a second career once I retired from computer engineering. I want to know if this is a "pipe-dream" or not.

    I am not completely without training; my second undergraduate degree is in Applied Discrete Math, and I have a minor in Physics. However, I have been out of school for 3-4 years, and have no research experience even in engineering. I am palnning to go to school part-time to learn VLSI and some Solid-State Physics. The distinction between these fields and the one I am in is blurry, so my company will pay. I am also trying to become a radio enthusiast, but my fear of screwing up has kept my transmitter kit in its box. I figured these activities would move me closer to having a good background.

    So what do you think? Any advice? Know of any self-study courses that could help?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2004 #2


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    Since you already have a solid background in programming/computer sciences (since you are a qualified Computer Engineer), I would suggest you try to find some field of personal interest where you get full pay-off from your earlier education.

    For example, to develop efficient and stable algorithms for computing reasonably accurate approximations to solutions of various differential equations emerging from physics, is an active research field (for example, computational fluid dynamics). Heaps of journals are devoted to such themes.
  4. Jul 14, 2004 #3
    arildno, I believe you are suggesting computational physics. Yes, computing knowledge is so helpful there. You end up doing a lot of exciting stuff when you apply computaters to real-world problems. Hmm...
  5. Jul 18, 2004 #4
    Any particlar areas where you can use all the help you can get?

    Thanks for your responses.

    Is it possible to work on computational physics wihtout being a proffessional? I have a full-time job that I like. It has very little to do (at the moment) with computational physics. I am more of a logic designer(hardware) than a software engineer, but I can write C++/Java code fairly well (along with a host of other languages).

    Modeling manufaturing processes may be something I can switch groups to do, but I have nothing on my resume as far as that is concerned.
    My real question was weather there was so much stuff to do that I could read physics papers, do some experiments/modeling/etc. on my own, without having a proffesional background, and still get something worthwhile done (publish papers refferenced by future researchers). I know sometimes we have highschool kids who do real research, so I was thinking if they can do it, why not me?

    Are there any particular unexplored areas that would not require more than a physics minor background (Intro classes, into chem, thermal physics, Electro Statics, Modern Physics, and Elementary Solid State, in my case)? Also, Bachelors level Mathematics would be OK, and any amount of coding is fine. Anything Group Theory related? It is my favorite topic in Math. Although my understanding is meager, I am really fascinated by both quantum and statistacal mechanics. So something involving either of these would be great.
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