Divided between physics and chemistry

In summary, the conversation discusses the speaker's struggle in choosing between a career in physics or chemistry, particularly in the fields of nuclear physics/engineering and biochemistry/forensic science. They express their academic strengths and interests in math and their fascination with both fields. The conversation also touches on the idea of interdisciplinary fields such as chemical physics and biophysics. The speaker seeks advice on finding a balance between their interests and potentially exploring other related fields. They also mention the importance of timing in making a decision.
  • #1
goochmawn314
12
0
They say one way to torture a person is to give them choices. I feel this is partly true in this case.

I have a goal in mind for either one: if I do physics, I'll pursue nuclear physics/engineering but I go the chemistry route: I'll do biochemistry/forensic science. I've done a lot of research on both but can't choose. As far as mathematical/academic ability goes, I'd say I'm very well off. Math has always fascinated me, but I'd rather be able to apply all the geometry/trig/calculus I've learned.

On the other hand, I've always had quite the reverence for our judicial system and the thought of analyzing evidence and presenting it sounds exciting, too. No, I do not watch CSI. Also, biotechnology/genetics research is apparently booming.

It just seems like there is a lot more opportunity in physics, but more job security in a career like forensic science. The two careers seem to be quite different.

Advice is much appreciated
 
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  • #2
PS: I do not want a career in academia
 
  • #3
May I ask your background in the areas you are interested in? If you have not entered college yet, you should decide after taking some of the introductory courses first. But according to what you have provided, chemistry sounds very fitting to you. Also, applied math is a great field in my opinion for forensic science or mathematical/computational biology. There is great research going on in my school in mathematical modeling to solve forensic/biological problems.

It is true that opportunities in physics are vast, but somewhat shallow compared to more applied thus secure fields. I think the best thing you can get out of your physics degree is the intuition and perseverance to solve hard problems.
 
  • #4
Those sound interesting to me. Apparently the opportunities are vast: The school I am going to had one girl who got to intern in Switzerland for her physics degree, and that sounded like an amazing experience to me, considering I've never really been out of the state. Pretty sure she's at NASA now, although I can't say for certain. Perhaps I'd get to go assuming I get lucky enough.

I know it sounds like a bit of a romantic pipe-dream, just discovering something that will be of great value to society is my primary motivating factors for my interest in these two fields.
 
  • #5
goochmawn314 said:
They say one way to torture a person is to give them choices. I feel this is partly true in this case.

I have a goal in mind for either one: if I do physics, I'll pursue nuclear physics/engineering but I go the chemistry route: I'll do biochemistry/forensic science. I've done a lot of research on both but can't choose. As far as mathematical/academic ability goes, I'd say I'm very well off. Math has always fascinated me, but I'd rather be able to apply all the geometry/trig/calculus I've learned.

On the other hand, I've always had quite the reverence for our judicial system and the thought of analyzing evidence and presenting it sounds exciting, too. No, I do not watch CSI. Also, biotechnology/genetics research is apparently booming.

It just seems like there is a lot more opportunity in physics, but more job security in a career like forensic science. The two careers seem to be quite different.

Advice is much appreciated

Chemical physics is a thing, U of Maryland for example has a pretty big program at the interplay between the two and seems to have a mix of things that'd be applicable to your interests: http://www.chemicalphysics.umd.edu/02_research.htm
 
  • #6
Find a balance between the two. There are interdisciplinary fields between the two; for instance, I'm doing biophysics, which lives somewhere in between physical chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and of course, physics.
 
  • #7
Have you looked at similar fields as well? Chemical Engineering involves both chemistry and physics.
 
  • #8
OP, where are you in your academic career? Do you need to make a decision right now? Or can you take some more classes?
 

What is the difference between physics and chemistry?

Physics is the study of matter, energy, and their interactions, while chemistry is the study of the composition, properties, and behavior of matter. Physics focuses on understanding the fundamental laws and principles that govern the universe, while chemistry focuses on the structure and behavior of atoms and molecules.

Can you study both physics and chemistry?

Yes, it is possible to study both physics and chemistry as they are closely related fields. Many scientific concepts and theories overlap between the two disciplines, and having a strong understanding of both can lead to a deeper understanding of the natural world.

What are some examples of how physics and chemistry intersect?

One example is in the study of thermodynamics, which combines principles from both physics and chemistry to understand how energy is transferred and transformed in chemical reactions. Another example is in the field of quantum chemistry, which uses theories from both physics and chemistry to explain the behavior of atoms and molecules at the atomic level.

Which is more important, physics or chemistry?

Both physics and chemistry are crucial for understanding the natural world. While physics focuses on the fundamental laws and principles that govern the universe, chemistry provides a deeper understanding of the building blocks of matter and how they interact. It is difficult to say which is more important, as they both play important roles in scientific research and advancements.

Can you apply the principles of physics and chemistry in everyday life?

Yes, the principles of physics and chemistry are present in many aspects of our everyday lives. For example, understanding the properties of matter and energy can help us design more efficient technologies, and knowledge of chemical reactions can help us develop new medicines and materials. These principles also play a role in cooking, cleaning, and many other daily activities.

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