Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Dreaming to be a scientist (physicist), can I do it?

  1. Feb 8, 2017 #1
    Hello, my name is Andraž, I am from Slovenia(east neighbor of Italy, and southern neighbor of Austria for those of you who don't know) and I am very determined to be a physicist. I am 18 years old and as a student of the fourth year of high school, I am about to apply for the university.

    Firstly, I love this world, not as much in a political or historical sense as in the natural sense. I am extremely curious and fascinated by the nature of this universe. The laws of the universe thrill me with excitment, since they are so unhuman that we tend to think how crazy they are; it gives me goosebumps hearing about something exciting haha:biggrin:. I want to understand it all and I want to be a part of people like me, who would do everything to understand the world that they live in. Richard Feynman was the one who inspired me the most, since he was just like me, he loved to play with science and enjoyed understanding it.

    Furthermore, I enjoy doing math and solving problems. Not only that but I really enjoy the rigour of math, since I want to understand everything deeply, but this is where the problem shows up. I was always good at math but never very good. Having been confused about what is good for me, I have never delved into math too much after primary school. I never knew that calculus even existed until a year ago, whereas most physics enthusiasts do. Moreover, I was never good at physics competitions, since I could never prepare myself for it and I always did them with my left hand kind of(I heard that I need prizes from these for the graduate study , which scares me).

    I always knew physics is the way to go, since I found myself talking to the physics teacher in 7th grade about black holes and relativity and I didnt know jack but was still sooo excited to think about it and talk about it. But then reality hit me when everyone was saying I should get into a career where I can be useful for the country and have a good job. As a kid I thought physics was pretty good for jobs too, which it is, but then people, who didn't even have engineering degrees, left alone a physics one, kept saying that I'll end up without a job if I pursue physics. They "motivated" me to be interested into something profitable, but deep down I was sure that this is no go.

    I always loved computers. They were the magical devices that did awesomeness and as a very curious kid I wanted to know how they worked. So that's what I was getting into, computer science. I started self-studying programming and learned pretty fast how to make simple stuff, when I found out that it's pretty boring to just do some random programs for sanding mails or to sort stuff. So I started game dev, which is very cool and I still like it very much. I learned C, C++ and Java well and I love doing very performant game engines, engines that are very well optimised, because that requieres clever tricks to make the game hardware friendly, it's an interesting thing to do:smile:. I also love implementing awesome algorithms for procedural generation and pahtfinding, those are quite challanging and usefull in game dev.

    I spent 4 years for advanced programming stuff, whereas I could have spent it delving into math and physics. I know A TON about computers, but not much more than a typical highschool student about math(well I did self-study calculus but didn't get far before we did it at school, because the book "Calculs Made Easy - Thompson" wasn't rigorous enough for me, but was still a good book though, got the Spivak now, it's very hard, but I think I can do it). I am very passionate about physics so I tend to spend huge amounts of time on internet watching science physics videos, which I am very very very very glad I do, because I would forget about physics and I would go into computer science and I would regret it all my life.

    I am very sorry for this long tireing post about my life. I know I sound very edgy, but I am very scared, to be honest. As you can see, I wasted my time, whereas I could have known so much more math and physics by now. You will probably say I didn't waste my time, but I did my research and only the most genius tend to get into physics research (the ones who master baby maths almost before university) :frown:. I am no genius, as a mere mortal I am just very curious and spend tons of time working but I am no genius who would do magic at age of 15.

    Also, here is another piece of information; it is pretty bad. I was found out to have Multiple Screlosis just a week ago, that is probably why I am so nervous right now as well(I can't sleep, I am awake till 5 am every night, where my brain is going into racing turbo super saiyan mode of thinking about physics and my life):frown:, I tend to get depressed that it will make me stupid and that I won't be able to make it .

    So here is finally my question from the title:
    Can a mere mortal + MS like myself hope to pursue a career of a scientist where the title of PhD physicist working as a scientist on a university or an institute is luxorious and only avaliable to the elite geniuses(I may be wrong, but sleepless nights spent googling, reading through comments and forums about it convinced me)? And also If i do stand a chance, how should I achieve such a dream other than being determined and work very very hard(Should I talk to professors a lot and ask them about research, or should I grab a chance for any kind of research projects; what are possibly some tips for achieving my dream)?

    (Optional) Being a Slovenian I am very limited to just one research institute here(Jožef Štefan), so I want to ask if I stand a greater chance with graduate work abroad?

    P.S. I hope this post doesn't bore you too much with me going on about my life, however I am trully in dilemma about what I am supposed to do and wanted to tell you guys the whole story so you have a clear picture. I am also very very thankful for anyone who answers(be it positive or negative):smile: .
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2017 #2
    First, have a dream.
    Second, research that dream.
    Third, make a plan to accomplish that dream.
    Fourth, act on that plan.
    Finally, never give up.

    Say yes to new opportunities. Talk to whomever you can. Most of getting ahead in this world is about who you know.

    MS is a diagnosis, it's not who you are.
  4. Oct 23, 2017 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    You don't have to be a "genius" to make it as a physicist. You need an aptitude for physics and mathematics as well as a host of other skills (programming, writing, public speaking, the ability to collaborate well with others, creativity, etc.) You need the drive and perseverance to wrestle with problems long after others give up.

    The bad news is that making it as a physicist is a long and hard road and the reality is that only about one in ten people who graduate with a PhD in physics tend to become professors. At that stage this tends to have little to do with intelligence, aptitude or work ethic. Just about everyone who gets a PhD in physics has all of that. A lot of uncontrollable variables come into play such as how "hot" your area of expertise happens to be when you graduate, who is hiring when you've completed your post-doctoral work, academic networking, how well you fit in with a particular department, etc. That said, most PhDs in physics do tend to get decent jobs with a high rate of job satisfaction.

    Living with MS is going to be a challenge, but it's not generally an insurmountable one, and a lot will depend your individual the details. There's no inherent reason why it should keep you from completing an education in physics.
  5. Oct 23, 2017 #4

    Dr. Courtney

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2018 Award

    If you are willing to teach or work in industry, you are much more likely to be able to keep the ship afloat for your research interests once you have a PhD.

    But for now, you need to conquer the math. Most students who fail, fail from lack of effort rather than lack of natural ability.
  6. Oct 23, 2017 #5
    If you dream it, you can do it. :)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?