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Choosing the research area in physics!

  1. Dec 20, 2013 #1

    ShayanJ

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    I wanna know how people usually choose their area of research?Is it just interest?What about choosing between areas which are all of your interest?
    I know,it may seem weird for an undergrad to ask that,but I think its the time for me to decide on it.Because I started studying physics when I was in the middle of high school and now(that I'm an undergrad in physics)I'm in a place that I think I can almost understand some papers and so I think its time to specialize my studies on a particular subject because I now see if I don't do that,then I have an ocean of information to understand which seems terrifying.
    I should say that I mean my self-studies because I also have my undergrad courses to deal with.But the choice of area also helps in choosing a proper field for my graduate school which is to come in the next year or maybe next two years.
    About my own favorite areas of research, I can say that I like Quantum Gravity,alternatives to General Relativity,Quantum Computation,Measurement problem,Open Quantum Systems and Quantum Decoherence(and anything relating to foundations and philosophy of Quantum Mechanics),Quantum Field theory and Standard Model,Grand Unification Theories and Theories of Everything...wait...wow...I think its better to say I like Theoretical Physics!!!
    So...any idea is appreciated...and yeah...maybe some of you are going to say just be a good boy and try to get good grades in your own courses...well...that's welcome too...but hard to get along with!!!
    Thanks all
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
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  3. Dec 20, 2013 #2

    HayleySarg

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    Just see what research is being done at your university, and whatever seems most interesting, volunteer to help with. At least, that seems to be a common way to break into sub-fields. It also helps you know what you like/don't like early on enough that you won't get stuck in Graduate school on a project you hate.
     
  4. Dec 20, 2013 #3

    ShayanJ

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    Yeah...that's a good idea but there are some points about it.Professors in my university are either in astrophysics or solid state physics which are not of my interest much!
    We also have professors in AMO Physics(Atomic, molecular, and optical physics). One of them is working on plasmas which again isn't of my interest much.
    One other is working on Quantum Optics which is near to my interests in some cases and I already have a project with him.I should study a paper about Quantum trajectories which is a theory about Open Quantum Systems.It was because of this paper that I became interested in Open Quantum Systems.Only the trouble is that the professor doesn't help much.I don't know,maybe its because I'm "only" an undergrad!
    But anyway,I'm working on this paper and trying to figure it out.But still not sure its the thing I really want to do research about!
     
  5. Dec 20, 2013 #4

    HayleySarg

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    Hmm. You've ruled out

    -AMO
    -Astrophysics
    -Solid State

    But you seem interested in Open Quantum Systems, and a prof just isn't working with you on the level you want? How long have you tried to collaborate? Just a single email?

    What year are you in?

    There might be REU's to apply for, have you tried searching through those?
     
  6. Dec 20, 2013 #5

    esuna

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    Solid state physics and astrophysics are my two main interests right now! Maybe I should go to your university ;)
     
  7. Dec 20, 2013 #6

    ShayanJ

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    Well,its not that I don't like those three fields.I just like those, mentioned in my first post, more.And I've been trying to get cooperation from him for several weeks by phone and email and also in some meetings but he just postponed all things till someday he said go and study it all by yourself.And so I'm trying to do that.I'm in my fourth year but I may be obliged to stay more because I have failed some courses before.I also should say I'm not in US and not in a top rank university so there is no REU.
     
  8. Dec 20, 2013 #7
    You should check out department colloquium from top schools like MIT, CalTech, Harvard, etc. They upload some of them online, just visit their website. This is a good way to get a brief intro into a specific research field, see what people are doing and what the big questions are. If there's many talks on similar subjects, you know it's a field that's making good progress! For the ones you find interesting, visit that professor's website to check out their publications, what people in his/her group are doing, etc.
     
  9. Dec 20, 2013 #8

    Choppy

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    I think the process is a serendipitous mix of opportunity (what people happen to be working on where you've chosen to study, what's popular at the time, what you happen to be reading), practical considerations (are you going to translate this into a job, can you get into a graduate school where this is studied), and of course interest (you tend to go with what you find most interesting among your viable options).

    As an undergrad I think it's a perfect time to start reading up on those areas that you're interested in. Usually by your upper years you should be able to get something useful out of review articles, even if you can't follow all of the details. Try going through issues of Physics Today for example.

    In addition to what Retro10x said, colloquia at your own school are worth attending.

    It can also help to get to know some graduate students.
     
  10. Dec 20, 2013 #9
    You like GR but you have no interest in astrophysics?
     
  11. Dec 21, 2013 #10

    ShayanJ

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    Thanks people
    And tom,astrophysics isn't just about GR!
    For example one of the astrophysics professors in my university is working on the structure of sunspots which has nothing to do with GR.
     
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