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Going Further in Physics

  1. Sep 12, 2008 #1
    I'm currently a freshman undergrad and I'm probably going to be majoring in math, physics, cs. Now, the thing is I studied quantum physics I (pretty much Griffiths chapters 1 - 5) over the summer before entering freshman year. I'm still taking the quantum mechanics course in my school, though.

    Now, my goals are:

    1. Score a 990 on the Physics GRE.
    2. Become familiarized with introductory string theory before I leave undergrad (hopefully before or during my junior year, because I really want to attend this research camp for undergraduates in CERN)
    3. Publish a few articles in physics research (mainly experimental, but string theory, I have heard, is literally impossible to do experimental research in... maybe that will change after the LHC..) before I leave undergrad so that grad school will like me.

    I'm currently studying quantum physics II, electrostatics/magnetostatics/electrodynamics on my own using griffiths (both his texts). I'm probably going to be studying special relativity on my own next semester, though I am pretty familiar with most of the material in it, including Lorentz transformations and a bit of four-vector formalism.

    What should I be doing after this? Particularly, I was thinking about studying thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and classical mechanics (lagrangian and hamiltonian formalism) just to get the standard GRE stuff out of the way so that I can focus more on grad physics... thermo + stat mech should take one semester probably. After this, I was thinking of either taking or studying an advanced quantum mechanics course at the level of Sakurai. Then, I was thinking about learning relativistic quantum mechanics + quantum electrodynamics (this is currently my freshman summer and sophomore fall). My first semester or second semester of sophomore year, I was thinking about learning about general relativity (I'm taking a diff geo course concurrently with it, sooo hopefully that will work out well). So, by second semester soph year, this should put me at learning quantum field theory (while continuing general relativity and qed). After this point, I'm guessing I can start learning the foundations of string theory (summer of soph year?). If I can continue to do string theory through my junior year, I'm thinking that I could go to CERN and actually maybe do something useful with string theory there.

    I know I'm being ambitious (maybe too much), but I want to push myself to be the very best that I can be. I'm taking 18 hours and the courses in my college (which is a reputable college) are extremely easy right now, though most of the classes I'm taking are sophomore and junior classes.

    Can anyone point out ideas as to what I could do to improve my schedule?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2008 #2

    Choppy

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    Those are ambitious goals to say the least. Publishing a research paper for example isn't like writing a term paper. But, hey, who am I to tell you it can't be done? If you're enjoying the work, keep at it.

    Don't be afraid to relax a little too. Life's not a race. Enjoy your undergrad years.
     
  4. Sep 12, 2008 #3
    haha it's true that it's going to be a lot of work, but I definitely do balance out my time... I relax a LOT: I go to football games here, work out, play starcraft, etc. xD
     
  5. Sep 13, 2008 #4
    Any other opinions?
     
  6. Sep 15, 2008 #5
    You plan on taking Differential Geometry next fall? I will be too, cool :D McCuan told me this summer that he'll most likely be teaching it. Well, he either said that or PDEs 1, I don't recall which, but I'll be taking both next fall so I suppose I'll be seeing him again.

    I'd say there's a good chance we'll have undergrad General Relativity soon though, because we just hired 5/6? new astrophysicists.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, if you haven't already then ask a professor about doing research this spring.
     
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