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Comments - Your Physics Thesis Defense

  1. Jul 14, 2015 #1

    ZapperZ

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  3. Jul 15, 2015 #2
    Solid advice here.
     
  4. Jul 15, 2015 #3

    Ygggdrasil

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    Don't forget to prep for the snake fight portion of your PhD defense. That's the part that often comes back to bite you :wink:
     
  5. Jul 15, 2015 #4
    My advice: publish three Phys Rev Letters and your thesis defense will be more like a victory lap.
     
  6. Jul 15, 2015 #5

    ShayanJ

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    Could you explain which part of the thesis defense that's supposed to refer to?

    P.S.
    Thanks for the good advices Zapper.
     
  7. Jul 15, 2015 #6

    Ygggdrasil

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    Does your university not require you to fight a snake in order to graduate? o_O

    it's a joke
     
  8. Jul 15, 2015 #7

    ShayanJ

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    Ohh...I thought its a metaphor for some actual phenomenon. I'm an undergrad.
     
  9. Jul 27, 2015 #8

    DEvens

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    There are old stories passed around among grad students about the monster PhD oral defense.

    The nice one is from Cliff Stoll, the author of this.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Cuckoos-Egg-Tracking-Computer-Espionage/dp/1416507787/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8

    In his PhD defense they asked him to explain why the sky was blue. And they kept asking him "can you be more specific?" until he had led his committee through a very long explanation of scattering and molecular energies and cross sections and visible light and optics and the character of the human eye. Which was really all on topic for a visible light astronomer. After he was done he was exhausted but very happy. And he passed.

    The not nice story involves a candidate being asked to estimate the number of barbers in Canada. There are multiple endings to that story. In one ending the candidate refused on the basis it had nothing to do with his thesis. Part A has him being failed for refusing. Part B has him being passed because it was unrelated to his thesis. Part C has him making an estimate, which was wildly wrong but showed a reasonable attempt to get an order of magnitude, and the candidate passing.

    So you should be sure you understand the rules for your defense. And these are different from one school to the next.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  10. Jul 27, 2015 #9
    One can say that preparing for your defense begins the day you enter the graduate program. In particular you do not want a faculty member on your board with whom you have crossed swords at some time. In reflecting on my defense and @DEvens post I may have dodged a bullet ( or a snake) having made a more or less public criticism of the teaching ability of a faculty member in my first year. Luckily he was either not selected, never got wind of it, forgot about it or was a mensch about it for he did not sit in on my defense.
     
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