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Curious PhD Astrophysicists

  1. Dec 30, 2016 #1
    Among some MIT professors, we find Alan Rickman has a PhD in Astrophysics, and he is a professor of Humanities, without even having a degree on it! Jeffrey A. Hoffman too, and he is a professor of Aerospace engineering. Curious, isn't?

    Then it is Brian May, the guitarist of Queen (and I think he is famous in the Astrophysicist world just because of that). I don't know if Stephen Hawking did his PhD in Astrophysics or in Theoretical Physics, but he is an emeritus professor of Mathematics.

    Do you know any other PhD's in Physics who moved on into such branches like this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2016 #2


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    This is really not that unusual. When I was an undergrad at UW-Madison, the instructor for 2 of my philosophy courses were Dan Siegel, who has a PhD in physics. Learning Philosophy of Physics from someone who has a PhD in physics was a lot more fulfilling and rewarding than from someone who has only a superficial knowledge of physics.

  4. Dec 30, 2016 #3
    A curious PhD astrophysicist may be Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has been doing nothing but to popularize Astrophysics, and for that he's considered to be in the same level as Carl Sagan. Sagan was also a promoter, but man, he did far more than Tyson.

    It's curious to see how people raise promoters so they seem like genius of genius, which is not accurate (with some exceptions like Stephen Hawking).
  5. Jan 1, 2017 #4
    Promoters are important. Physics is incredibly interesting so promoting is actually helping people by imbuing them with knowledge.

    Also, physics loses many intelligent people to fields like medicine. Had the field been popularized more, they may have stayed.
  6. Jan 1, 2017 #5


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    I have known many biophysicists, trained in physics but switched to biology.
    I think several early molecular biologists were trained as physicists.
    I also have a friend who was an English major, but is now an auditory neurophysiologist.

    Aspects of biology are pretty accessible to physical analyses.
  7. Jan 7, 2017 #6
    Wow, it seems that with a PhD in Physics you can do anything, except physics hahah.
  8. Jan 7, 2017 #7
    Indeed they are important. But Neil deGrasse Tyson can't be compared to Einstein or any world-class scientist, and it seems that in Media, deGrasse is indeed this scientist.
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