Careers in Nuclear Physics

  • #1
Hi There!
I am exploring career options in Nuclear Physics, exactly speaking, Theoretical Nuclear Physics. One of the ways to pursue a career in the field is of course in the academia, as a Professor and Researcher. But as we know, sustaining in the academia is not an easy job.

I was wondering if at all Nuclear Theorists work with reactor engineers in power plants. Could you throw some light on this and some other options for a Nuclear Theorist?

Thanks!
 

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  • #2
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Usual answer: there are some, but not many. By the time you've actually finished a PhD those jobs will have changed, and it's hard to predict the future of cutting-edge technology.

Why are you so focused on nuclear, and theoretical? There are other "smart person" jobs, you know...
 
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  • #3
Usual answer: there are some, but not many. By the time you've actually finished a PhD those jobs will have changed, and it's hard to predict the future of cutting-edge technology.

Why are you so focused on nuclear, and theoretical? There are other "smart person" jobs, you know...
There are, but I don't like them.
 
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  • #4
Vanadium 50
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There are, but I don't like them.
How would you know? "I was wondering if at all Nuclear Theorists work with reactor engineers in power plants" and the answer is no, and the majority do not. And given that you don't really know what they do, how do you know you want to be one and not something else?
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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Hi There!
I am exploring career options in Nuclear Physics, exactly speaking, Theoretical Nuclear Physics. One of the ways to pursue a career in the field is of course in the academia, as a Professor and Researcher. But as we know, sustaining in the academia is not an easy job.

I was wondering if at all Nuclear Theorists work with reactor engineers in power plants. Could you throw some light on this and some other options for a Nuclear Theorist?

Thanks!
First of all, we need to correct the severe misconception that you have on what a "nuclear physicist" actually study, especially nuclear physics theorist. Would you believe that particle collider facility such as RHIC and CEBAF are all "nuclear physics" facilities? Would you believe that something like the study of "quark-gluon plasma" is within the realm of nuclear physics?

I strongly suggest that you go to the ArXiv website and LOOK at the articles related to nuclear physics, and nuclear physics theory. How many of those are on "power plants"?

So now, considering that you did not have a clear idea of what is involved in the field of nuclear physics, how accurate do you think is your understanding of OTHER areas of physics?

Zz.
 
  • #6
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There are, but I don't like them.
To be honest, I don't think you really know what a nuclear physicist studies, or what the practical difference is between the life of a theoretical and experimental physicist.

I kind of wish that more physics programs asked that as a requirement for admission. Most jobs ask for a cover letter explaining "Why do you want to work here?" and something similar for physics could cut down a lot on people who don't know what they're getting in for.
 
  • #7
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You guys are pretty harsh.

To answer the OP, I have worked on and in nuclear plants for 40 years without meeting any nuclear physicists. The nuclear physics involved in power reactors was figured out in the 1940s and 1950s by people like Fermi and Wigner. Since that time, reactor design has become an empirical science. Example - neutron capture cross sections are well known measured parameters, not theoretical estimates.

I think the point of some previous responses is that what goes as "theoretical physics" has moved on alot since the 1950s. Zz's suggestion on looking at arxiv is a very good one.
 
  • #8
jtbell
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I am exploring career options in Nuclear Physics,
It might help people to target their answers appropriately, if you can see fit to tell us what stage of education you are currently in, and how much physics you have already studied. High school? First-year undergraduate? Late undergraduate?

[added] OK, I now see in one of your old posts that you were a tenth-grader in 2016. That suggests that you are currently a college/university freshman (first-year undergraduate). Correct?
 

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