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Physics Engineer or physicist?

  1. Sep 28, 2017 #1
    Hello, I would like to become a 'scientist' that can research new things and give theories but also is capable of inventing stuff. For example (just am example, don't say not possible please :( ) I research about how a kerr black hole can be made and used to travel time. I reach to a conclusion. But instead of publishing it, I decide to go on and using this, make a time machine myself.
    I have always watched scientists like these in movies, anime, etc. and I want to become one myself. So which course for this? Some people, when I posted here a year ago, said do mechatronics. I can do mechatronics and become an engineer to invent things but if I study physics in depth side by side will it make me as capable as a scientist? Of course, this way I will only have a degree in engineering and that is fine. I just want to be able to become a self proclaimed scientist.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2017 #2

    symbolipoint

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    Puff, the Magic Dragon,...
    ...but Jacky Paper had to grow up, go to school, and probably studied Engineering (and some Physics, too) and found a job as an engineer. Jacky's toys had changed by then, and maybe, yours will also.
     
  4. Sep 28, 2017 #3
    huh? I did not quite understand what you replied. The last line though, seems to hint that my dream will change? nah man. It is never gonna be changed. Only reply if you want to answer what I asked.
     
  5. Sep 28, 2017 #4

    donpacino

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    If your goal is to be a self proclaimed scientist then study whatever you want and ask people to call you Dr.
     
  6. Sep 28, 2017 #5
    Not all true scientists have doctoral degrees, and not all doctoral degree holders make any claim at all to being scientists. It seems that this might have been better phrased.
     
  7. Sep 28, 2017 #6

    donpacino

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    Ok, then Op should call himself Dr scientist....
     
  8. Sep 28, 2017 #7

    Choppy

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    Remember that you're not deciding on a career right now. You're deciding on an educational path. And in most cases you're not looking at a dichotomous decision that will lead to one of two independent careers, but different branches that have considerable overlap, with different advantages and disadvantages.

    By choosing an education in one of the engineering disciplines, you'll be focusing more on the applications of physics and mathematics for the purposes of building things. Since engineering is a professional field, you'll graduate with a skill set and the credentials necessary to enter this profession right after the completion of an undergraduate degree. You can still go on to graduate school - generally for engineering. Depending on the details of your education you may also be able to go to graduate school for physics, but in most cases you'll have some catching up to do.

    By choosing an undergraduate degree in physics, you'll get an education that is in most cases designed to prepare you for graduate school and ultimately to become a scientist. You won't have the same credentials as an engineering graduate in the workforce though, which will likely make it more of a challenge to find a job. And it's important to remember that the probability of an academic career for a physics graduate is extremely low, even for those who are extremely intelligent and hard-working. They still tend to get good careers in terms of pay and job satisfaction. But they aren't professors studying black holes.

    You can also try to mix the two. Many universities offer majors in engineering physics and/or applied physics that can offer the right balance between professional credentials and background in physics for a given student. The disadvantage with this is that they have to pack a lot in, which means there tends to be less elective room.
     
  9. Sep 28, 2017 #8

    symbolipoint

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    My response was a way of trying to use some piece of popular or former popular lyric artistry to give advice. Look for the lyrics to Puff the Magic Dragon.
    Whatever your age, you seem to be young and as you grow, your NEEDS will change and the desire you have now of becoming a scientist will need to be modified so that you would find something practical to earn an income. Study Mathematics and Physics if you want; but also build some practical skills so you will be more able to find a job, be employed, and earn an income. Having practical skills does not mean you could not be also a scientist.

    The world wants to get people to design things. The scientist wants to understand nature and matter and energy.
    You may want to try to study beyond bachelors degree in some science field such as Physics, but you should also include skills that employers want, like computer programming, engineering, and whatever else.
     
  10. Sep 28, 2017 #9

    russ_watters

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    In addition, learning more about science will almost certainly change what a prospective scientist wants to study.
     
  11. Sep 28, 2017 #10

    symbolipoint

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    I agree. You might want to explain it more for KeshavTheBest. I believe the member SHOULD study physical sciences and mathematics. He will then learn what he is good at, find what he likes and does not like, and find (hopefully, maybe with guidance) his sense of direction.
     
  12. Sep 28, 2017 #11
    Thanks for the responses everyone. I still have 1.5 years of school left so I thought maybe pre planning would be good. I have only studied basic quantum mechanics like quantum model of an atom. I am trying to go ahead of the school by studying at home like I am currently studying GR. I also dipped into some other concepts manly becuase saw them get mentioned and checked it out. So yeah I have still a long way to go.
    My actual question was basically how can I become a scientist is capable of inventing stuff. I came around a word 'experimental' physicist. By the name it sounds like they do have some skills to apply physics. Can anyone tell me if it is true?
     
  13. Sep 28, 2017 #12

    symbolipoint

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    Readers may understand what you mean about "quantum" mechanics if they can relate this to what is usually taught to highschool Chemistry or other science courses from high school; or from an introductory or "elementary" course on Chemistry from a community college. The level of advancement is very, very low.

    The goal of a scientist is to explore and understand.
    The goal of a technologist and of an engineer is to design and apply scientifically learned principles.
    Some sharing occurs between the two sides.
     
  14. Sep 28, 2017 #13

    russ_watters

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    Sure: I'm a mechanical engineer. I knew from childhood that I wanted to design airplanes and/or spacecraft and I knew that job description was "aerospace engineer" by the time I was in middle school. Anyone paying any attention would know this.

    Physics isn't like that. I'm 41 and have been a PF moderator for something like 15 years and I could not do a good job describing the various physics research job descriptions. Everyone knows what an airplane is, but few people know what "condensed matter" or "high energy" physics actually means (if they even recognize the terms).

    The OP is asking what field to study, and clearly does not know what fields even exist, so there isn't any answer that he could get that would even mean anything to him at this point in his education.

    The question being asked is at face value a little bit silly, but the general answer is that if you want to invent new physics, start with a physics BS and re-evaluate when you get near the end of it and understand the various paths to take from there. At that point you will be better equipped to focus your effort.

    And here's the beauty: even if you think you know what you want now, it doesn't matter: you start the same way so there is no penalty for setting aside your aspirations for a few years to lay the necessary groundwork.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  15. Sep 28, 2017 #14

    symbolipoint

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    This seems unusual, which russ_waters said:
    Most middle school students do not have such a specific career plan or objective as you had. Their parents might tell them what they will do or become or what they will study but in a few short years, these kids may have enough awareness to know how to change their own minds. Many of them will not know what they want even during and toward the end of high school, and if go to college, might change major field two or three times.
     
  16. Sep 28, 2017 #15

    russ_watters

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    Granted. But my point was that if they do, their understanding of the idea is good enough and the path to get to it clear-cut. The same cannot be said of physics.
     
  17. Sep 28, 2017 #16
    Actually I also had planned that I will choose a career in the science field only from a small age.

    Alright I think I understand now what guys mean, that when I further study in physics and think what is good for me, I will have to choose a specific branch to be specialized in.
    I have 2 last things to ask, how much knowledge of electronics does a physicist have? Like I have heard that there are physicists that have done great inventions. Lets take this hypothetical example once again, A person is trying to find a way to make a kerr black hole and he is successful in it after experimenting things and using his findings, builds a time machine. So will that guy be an experimental physicist or an engineer? I know this one is a bit dumb but I want to know if the above example was a work done by a physicist or an engineer.
     
  18. Sep 29, 2017 #17

    donpacino

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    Professionally... You won't. At its peak the Manhatten project employed 120,000 people, a few thousand of which were at Los Alamos site (thats peak, not cumulative). It takes MANY people to make complicated products. Thats not saying you won't cross into other fields. Many people wear multiple hats at their jobs. It just depends on the skillset you develop. Keep in mind that if you have 1000 tasks to do, 200 people doing 5 tasks each might be cheaper AND take much less time than 1 person doing 1000 tasks.

    Recreationally: Sure. You can learn all sorts of stuff on your own and get fairly good at it. This day and age there are many things you can buy in a black box form for the things you don't know. So you don't need to implement it, you can just use it. Example: a PC and a printer, adding a camera to your drone, etc
     
  19. Sep 29, 2017 #18

    donpacino

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    Don't worry about labels. Worry about enjoying what you do and getting paid to do it
     
  20. Sep 29, 2017 #19
    Alright, I got my answers, thanks
    So I can become a physicist and still do a few things that an engineer can. But can it be said vice versa also? Like I become a mechatronics engineer. And I try to do some non-profit research in say particle physics, will I have sufficient knowledge to do it?
    I am inclined towards become a physicist right now as I do not care that about cash.
    is Germany a good country for this field? since education is free over there and I think employment is almost guaranteed over there, I was thinking of going there to study and get a job. Since in my current country, I don't think I will get a job in this field.
     
  21. Sep 29, 2017 #20

    analogdesign

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    I seriously doubt you will be able to make a contribution to Particle Physics if you're not a Particle Physicist or an engineer working on building the experiments. The field is too esoteric and specialized now. It would be more than a full-time job just to keep up with the field. The Particle Physicists I know are highly, highly specialized and even refer to themselves as such (e.g. I'm a neutrino oscillation guy).

    Physicists make decent money... the trick is getting the job in the first place. I'm an engineer and I work with physicists building instrumentation for experiments. I make more money than they do for one simple reason: working at a research lab is not the top choice for an engineer (I could make more elsewhere) but it is the top choice for a physicist.

    But like people are saying, you won't really know what you're interested in until you encounter it. I spent seven years deeply studying one small aspect of Electrical Engineering in graduate school that I couldn't have even identified as a subject when I was in high school.
     
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