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Do physics careers involve computers a lot?

  1. Dec 3, 2013 #1


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    I'm a huge nerd, and I spend ~90% of my free time doing something on my PC, whether it's playing video games, browsing/posting on forums, playing with video editing software, messing around with various programming languages, you name it.

    So, I kind of want to factor that into my career direction. I was thinking of going into physics or chemistry, but I was wondering, does work in those sciences tend to involve a lot of computer stuff, in this day and age? I just don't want to wind up spending my whole life sitting in front of a screen.
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  3. Dec 3, 2013 #2
    Numerical physics/chemistry will likely mean 90-95% of the time in front of the screen. Experimental physics/chemistry can involve as little as 30% of the time in front of the screen at the beginning of your career and close to 90% of the time in front of the screen later on.
  4. Dec 3, 2013 #3


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    Today - yes.

    It's hard to imaging exactly what a career for someone will look like who is just starting out now. Some things are fairly certain. As a physical scientist, you will no doubt use some kind of software to assist you with calculations, conduct simulations, analyse results, write up papers, create presentations, etc.

    But whether that means a career at a desk sitting in front of a keyboard and screen for someone starting out now may be up for debate. There is a movement towards cloud data storage and even having software online. So you already have the ability to do complex calculation work so long as you have some kind of a device for accessing data and software. Today that includes tablets and cell phones. I can imagine a decade from now that's going to be done through interfaces like "Google Glass 2024."

    In principle, there's no reason why you won't be able to review a paper while hiking through the mountains, or write simulation code at a coffee shop.
  5. Dec 5, 2013 #4
    Most of my time spent as an experiment physicist was in front of a computer. Either running the experiment (via computer), analyzing data, writing talks, writing articles, or running simulation codes. Then factor in all the other crap that happens on computers like purchasing equipment, email, etc., and you figure that most of your time is in front of a computer.

    Sure there were some chunks where you worked on hardware a lot, but that tends to happen in defined segments. If you find that distasteful, go into simulation/modeling where pretty much 100% of your time will be computer related.
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