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Environmental Physics?

  1. Apr 14, 2014 #1
    I've started the undergraduate's journey into physics. Although I'm still working through pre-req's I wanted to get a solid grasp on before the degree itself, I already have a vague idea of what I want to do after. However this doesn't go to say my choice is definite, but I've always been passionate about the environment.

    A few years ago I considered Conservation Biology, but realized that I wanted to work from the inside out as far as problems we face with the environment. Or at least work to gain the most fundamental understanding of the physical world.

    I'm sure there are many fields a degree in physics could lead, but I'm wondering if there are people on this forum that are involved/interested in alternative/renewable energy, environmental study, etc, with a physics background? There might be some obvious answers, because I personally think physicists are "trained" to be some of the world's greatest critical thinkers which opens various study paths. However I'd love to hear what others think :)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2014 #2
    Physics is an interesting study of the nature of matter and the forces of the universe. However, when considering biology and the like, a more practical degree might be Chemistry. Think of Chemistry as a well known case of applied physics.
  4. Apr 14, 2014 #3
    Perhaps geology, environmental science, or chemistry would be more suitable for your interest or look at work in the energy sector. I see a lot of physics guys getting MS in mechanical or nuclear engineering and working at power plants
  5. Apr 14, 2014 #4


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    Where I went to graduate school there was a program called environmental engineering. That might be the kind of thing your'e looking for.

    As a physicist working on environmental problems you could end up doing modeling work, or socio-physics, or developing technolgies that are driven by a need to solve very specific problems. Physicists of course tend to be on the very cutting edge of this kind of stuff and then the engineers tend to be the ones that develop it into something that works and often because the physics behind the needed technology is already known, the physicists aren't even a part of the equation, I suspect.

    In general I think there is a lot of interest in the scientific community and even within the realm of physics on tackling issues of enviromental stability. Unfortunately I also think that we're the choir and a lot of the environmental issues that exist in the world have known solutions - the biggest problem of all seems to be convincing the general population to adopt them.
  6. Apr 14, 2014 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    How about mechanical or electrical engineering? You may want to narrow your focus a bit.
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