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Guidance needed -- Physics versus Engineering

  1. Jan 14, 2016 #1
    I have been posting lately very heavily about this subject but still i have no clue about what i want to do. But on the bright side i know now what was the problem and what my interests are.

    I love science and physics is my favorite so i took my last year of high school specific in physics and maths with no biology and some chemistry and i have been doing really fine.What i always wanted was to achieve something . I dream about being someone who is valued and respected for his intellectual power everywhere .

    My most important dream and the one i dream about the most is to make an important discovery or invention in the physics field and earn a physics nobel for example. So i thought that logically in order to arrive there i have to study physics and so i applied to the American University of Beirut which is a top university here in Lebanon.

    And so i was determined (but of course thats after a lot of thinking and asking and searching in every field ever) . But then on the internet came a video of an interview with Elon Musk ( famous physicist and economist (Paypal SpaceX SolarCity Tesla Motors)) and he was asked who is better in making contributions these days between physics and engineering so he said engineering although he is the most successful person i know and is in fact a physicist.

    So this interview shook my whole decision and now i am really afraid that i chose the wrong major. I have no problem with engineering but I think it is very specific and physics is more of my thing. I already made a post about the differences between physics and engineering and i learned the thing.

    But just hearing a successful physicist saying that engineering is better , in addition to every one i know not liking that i am letting engineering for physics and even an applied physics doctor contacted me telling me not to do it (and he explained so much about the struggle and the thing that engineers have better working potential ), just made me afraid of what i wanted to do. The only people who push me for physics are 4 or 5 of my friend who beleive in me and know my passion . So i need some help choosing and some life advice please.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2016 #2
    Hello jamalkoiyess,
    i just want you to say" follow your passion".you are just going to live in this world.so you just want to choose your career.i am an engineer but never felt satisfaction in this field.i used to have passion for english literature.but i have situation to choose engineering it's really hard for me And i really felt regret for choosing this option by hearing other's words.follow your passion don't change your path.other's may say but they are not going to live your happy life. All the best.choose your happy life.
  4. Jan 14, 2016 #3


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    Going into physics because your dream is to win the Nobel Prize is the WRONG reason to go into it. You appear to want to do it for the fame and fortune and recognition. Why not just be a movie star?

    You will find that physics is too difficult and too demanding to do for the wrong reason.

  5. Jan 14, 2016 #4


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    First of all, no one can be good at everything and everyone wants to be respected for his intellectual power - to use your own words, and maybe to be eligible for a Nobel prize. But real life - talking accordingly to my own experience of about fifty years, does not work as such.
    What is the point of pursuing a career you don't like or have passion for? Can you ever get good at this? Usually not. You have to ask yourself what you like most to do and begin a path of learning according to this. I think it's better to pursue something you like and not end up abandoning the whole career thing altogether, someday. Don't get me wrong here: I don't mean to discourage you, but in my opinion, you have to think in more "real" terms. Don't begin your thinking as a Nobel Laureate, but as a person who has the passion and will to pursue something. Putting a lot of effort in the way, you can start thinking about being famous, although I don't think that this could be a healthy motivation for anyone to achieve his goal.
  6. Jan 14, 2016 #5
    I really have to agree. I think it is important to have dreams and aspirations -- however, I also think choosing your major based on which one you think could potentially make you more famous is a oneway ticket to a very disappointing future. I don't know what else to say other than that, with this mindset, you will most certainly fail to obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering or physics -- much less reach your goals of earning a Nobel Prize (which would require a PhD). I highly doubt any of the Nobel Laureates set out to study physics for the purpose of becoming famous...

    My advice: Do engineering. They are probably more highly praised by the general public, and that seems to be what you're after.
  7. Jan 14, 2016 #6
    i see... i am sorry for you . you really encouraged me now to follow what i like thanks very much and i hope that someday you complete that english literature dream . :)
  8. Jan 14, 2016 #7
    I may have badly explained myself here . I am not going to do physics to win a nobel prize. That would be too idiot . I am going actually with a dream of making life better, of creating something that could help like a better energy system , a better safer and cleaner travel method , etc. ... the nobel an exemple. Because you know what ? I am really frustrated by all the physicists and there causes behind doing physics : all of them liked maths and liked to know how the world works . It looks now to me that if i don't like the same things so i should not pursue it. In my opinion thats wrong. You can like a girl for her hair and i can like her for her eyes but we both like her . I am not that interested in knowing how everything works , but i love physics, it appeals to me , i am thr kind of person who likes hard work . My passion is actually to learn. I like how much physics can give you . Thats all.
  9. Jan 14, 2016 #8


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    What the.... ?

    I'm a physicist. Please tell me why you are "really frustrated" with me. What did I, or my profession, do to you?

  10. Jan 14, 2016 #9
    Also you understood me wrong. Sorry i didn't express my self good enough . All i am seeking is advice on the engineering vs physics dilemma that i am having right now . The nobel priza was just a wrong way to express my dreams of being successful in the field . :)
  11. Jan 14, 2016 #10
    What? I'm confused. Do you want to make discoveries/learn or help society? You contradicted yourself.
  12. Jan 14, 2016 #11
    I am not looking for fame ... plz forget about the nobel prize thing . And give me advice on the physics and engineering. Thank you.
  13. Jan 14, 2016 #12
    For example, I'm majoring in physics with the hopes of going to grad school for experimental particle physics because I want to understand the fundamentals of nature. Pop science isn't enough for me. And what if I can't get a job at a national lab? That's fine because a degree in physics is very valuable for other jobs (finance, consulting, etc).

    I don't care about the practical application of physics. I want to understand the physics. If you do care about the practical applications then go into engineering or applied physics.
  14. Jan 14, 2016 #13


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    OK, now that's rather ignorant. Physics isn't just the LHC, the Big Bang, etc. Physics is also your iPhone, your MRI, etc. The LARGEST section, in terms of membership, in the American Physical Society, is the condensed matter/material science division. This is often considered as the "applied" part of physics, the one where we can go to politicians that award huge research grant, and point to the valuable applications that can come out of those areas of study!

    Furthermore, such "applied" area often have impact on fundamental physics. Where do you think the Higgs mechanism came from? Where do you think the first sign of Majorana fermions, Weyl fermions, topological effects, etc.. came from? And do you think you can make advances in experimental HEP without contribution from Accelerator physics, detector physics, etc?

  15. Jan 14, 2016 #14
    What you do to me is that whenever someone asks me why i love physics i have none to say . Thats what kills me . There is nothing between us but you know when everyone loves what they do and have these amazing experiences it really hurts when someone asks you finally and you have nothing you say. I get so depressed . Sorry i am a little bit sad now and the replies are a little wrong of me .
  16. Jan 14, 2016 #15
    Thats is the reply i wanted from this post . Thanks . I just wanted to know the opportunities i have from physics degree. That's all then . Thank you.
  17. Jan 14, 2016 #16
    Yeah the thing is that i want to do all of this .
  18. Jan 14, 2016 #17
    I was not glorifying HEP if that's what you thought I was doing.
  19. Jan 14, 2016 #18


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    No, you were not. Instead, you were belittling the other parts of physics that have a direct impact on our lives.

  20. Jan 14, 2016 #19
    Have you looked into medical physics. @Choppy
  21. Jan 14, 2016 #20
    I'm so confused.
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