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Educational Requirements for Superstring Theory

  1. Apr 8, 2005 #1
    I want to study superstring theory (and maybe find the theory of everything). Even if I don't end up making that discovery I still want to be able to understand the theory or the closest humanity ever comes to a theory of everything. I've been looking at the math requirements but a lot of sources say some of the needed mathematical tools may not have been created yet. Would a PhD in particle physics be enough, or do I need an advanced degree in math too? If so, what field? Also, what are the world's best programs for superstring theory? I believe I've heard Stanford is #1 for particle physics in the US, but with the LHC at CERN and the US cancelling the SSC, might a top European university be better? And while we're on that question, I've heard rumors that a political organization I have connections in the top ranks of (won't name names; don't want to disgrace them if this doesn't happen) is considering a push for funding of the SSC or an equivalent from a sufficiently well-endowed state government. If that happens, how would the physicists who get to work there be chosen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2005 #2
    I may be wrong here but... why do you want to catagorise so much? Going to a top university won't mean you will get to study superstring theory because
    - Not many physicists are sure it is a right theory, or heaven forbid the ultimate theory

    It's an ongoing thing. No, this doesn't mean you won't need such-and-such mathematics or physics or whatever, but it does mean it won't be the only thing you'll have research in order to 'complete' the 'TOE'

    And why so fussy with university? Don;t you think the people in physics major or engineering who is at princton or harvard wants to discover to 'TOE'? It doesn't just happen overnight, the process is gradual. So if you are only enthusuastic about studying ToE given that you go to a 'good' university, i suggest you seriously consider what you want to do. Because learning physics isn't about money, or fame, but of endless curiosity and the awe for the beauty of nature.
  4. Apr 13, 2005 #3
    You focused on the less important aspects of my post and also misinterpreted things. I want to know the TOE or the closest humanity comes to it because I want to know things. While I'd prefer to be the one discovering it (wouldn't anyone?), I'd still be happy just being able to understand it. And as for money and all that bull****, I'm going to make more of it than almost any physicist this year; studying physics means losing money for me.So don't lecture me on doing it for the right reasons.
    I want to go to one of the top graduate programs on the subject because growing up near the University of Tennessee has taught me that you can learn everything the school teaches and still be wasting your money if you go to a crappy school. My goal to actually know this stuff and not just look like I know it makes it even more important that I go to a top school, where I'll be able to learn what I need to know, and to do research. So, anyone want to at least answer my question about whether I should also get a PhD in math or just physics?
  5. Apr 13, 2005 #4
    I don't think anyone can answer your question, because no one knows. People speculate that the "mathematical tools" for string theory haven't been developed yet. But until someone comes along and actually does it, no one knows!

    That said, I don't know anyone who gets multiple PhDs, except maybe "honorary" doctorate. Maybe if they have time as an undergrad, they get a dual masters then go to a PhD program, but even that is rare.

    Can you imagine if a young Einstein had asked say, Max Planck, "I want to sort out all this mess with blackbody radiation and the theory of light. But I'm not sure if the proper mathematical tools have been developed. Should I go for a PhD in physics, or would I need one in math too? "

    I'm not just trying to be facetious; I'm serious. How much physics background do you have anyway? Formal education can only take you so far. When you are the cutting edge, there really isn't any "right" way to go about doing things.
  6. Apr 13, 2005 #5


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    i suggest you start studying and quit wasting time asking total strangers what you need to become the next feynman. of course this will not satisfy you.
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