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Grand unified theory

  1. May 27, 2013 #1
    I am a sixteen year old aspiring theoretical physicist, my dream is to actually be the one who discover the GUT(I know it sounds a bit quixotic but that won't stop me). I was watching a tv show and it made me think even if I do find a gut theory how will it contribute to society on a large scale? will it make technology easier to build, will it make time travel possible, will it make the use of exotic energies usable such as dark matter possible? So this thought process made me think should I go for another profession one that will actually show a large scale contribution to society( i really want to be a theoretical physicist though). Oh and one more thing will finding such a theory have a direct or indirect impact on society? (if there is any).
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2013 #2


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    One never knows where scientific knowledge will lead.

    Just FYI, "dark matter" is not energy as you have stated it to be (any more than normal matter is energy).
  4. May 27, 2013 #3
    Makes sense( the dark matter is not energy part)
  5. May 27, 2013 #4
    If you want to get on board with GUT theories. I would start by studying Quantum field theory, QM and high energy physics. You will also need a solid calculus understanding and relativity understanding. Also study symmetry, possibly super symmetry. You will also need to understand the standard model of particle physics and all the forms of particle decay and interactions. That will be covered in the previous mentioned fields.
  6. May 28, 2013 #5


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    Your best bet is to pursue a physics major. There is a lot of background knowledge required to make forward strides here, and it's really difficult to get that knowledge on your own. It's potentially possible, if you're extremely self-driven. But it's not easy. And I would also like to stress that learning directly from good scientists is also incredibly important for really understanding how to do science well.

    And if the whole physics thing doesn't work out, you're likely to end up making a lot of money with a physics degree under your belt.

    That said, some of the topics important for making strides in theoretical physics:
    1. Linear algebra
    2. Calculus
    3. Classical quantum mechanics
    4. Special relativity
    5. Group theory
    6. Quantum field theory
    7. General relativity

    It would also be worthwhile to study some of the current proposed theories that extend the standard model, such as supersymmetry, string theory, and loop quantum gravity.
  7. May 28, 2013 #6
    Thank you you were the first one to actually answer my question and I appreciate it :)
  8. May 28, 2013 #7
    As evryone has said, if this is the route for you then you need to get an undergrad degree then go on to a pHD in physics. Physics is a commnunity effort these days and you wont be able to be a part of that commuinity wihtout a pHD. Even people like Julian Barbour who has done thier work outisde the community still had a pHD in physics.

    As to your other issues I think it is unlikley (but not impossible) that going beyond the standard model wil lead to any new practical technologies. The reaosns for this is that any new physics is likely to be hiding from us in extreme energies that are unlikley to be used in paractical devices.
    Of course one never knows what spin offs might be seen;the world wide web was invented at CERN. But the purpose of these projects is not to build practical technoliogies for scoiety but to extend our knolwegde frontier ( which usually does have spin offs but there's no knowing these in advance).

    If you want a more practical technology I would reccomend clean energy technology. A workable fusion power plant or much mmore effecient solar cell could really change the world.

    But at the age of 16 you dont need to decide these things. If you get to the PHD level then youll need to decide, maybe 1 or 2 years before that at most. A lot of it will depend on what you are actually good at. If you are not a talented mathemtician its unlikley theory will be the field you excel at. So work hard at school and see how it goes.
  9. May 28, 2013 #8


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    I should mention that a mathematics degree also overlaps well with theoretical physics.
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