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Help Developing My Senior Physics Project Concept

  1. Aug 31, 2014 #1
    Hello. I am an undergraduate physics major and am struggling to identify a senior project research question that I can pursue over the next 2 semesters. I already opted to do my project on heliophysics, but that is obviously a rather broad subject.

    While doing general reading, I came up with a couple of thoughts, but I don't know how viable they are as projects:

    - How is the solar spectrum that we see (or can't see for those wavelengths outside of the visible) on Earth different from what a satellite sees, or from the wavelengths that are actually produced within the Sun itself? What goes on between the production of a photon in the Sun and its arrival on Earth, in terms of redshift, scattering, absorption, the interference of Earth's magnetosphere, and so on, and when physicists study the Sun through its spectrum, do they need to compensate for any of these things?

    - What does the magnetic field of our Earth-Sun system look like, and how does the field of the Earth interact with the field of the Sun? For instance, as an example of semi-indirect interaction, the Sun's magnetic field is believed to be responsible for coronal mass ejections that, when the Earth is in their path, "collide" with Earth's magnetosphere and produce the polar lights. How do physicists model these fields and events?

    To complicate matters, I have a physical disability that prevents me from collecting my own data or conducting my own experiments. I don't know what to do about that, because while I would happily write a 25 page "review of the literature", this project is meant to be experimentally based, and is restricted to 5 pages of text besides.

    I would appreciate any advice on how I can develop either of my ideas into a real project (or the blunt truth that they are both bad and/or erroneous, if that is the case). Thank you for taking the time to read my rather long explanation.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2014 #2
    I'm sorry you are not finding help at the moment. Is there any additional information you can share with us?
  4. Sep 4, 2014 #3
    Thanks so much for responding. I was thinking this thread was just going to go unanswered, so I appreciate it.

    Actually, I have been finding help in the meantime by talking to the professors at my college. While I'm still not settled on a research question, I am getting a better understanding on how to go about it. One of my problems was that I don't have a good sense of what is reasonable for undergraduate studies. I have begun to look into new ideas based on their input.

    I've begun to think that I could analyze the decay rates of sunspots, da/dt, since sunspots are historically well documented and databases are available online. There are a lot of articles on the same subject, and again, I don't know how reasonable it is (too complicated, or not complicated enough?), but it sounds like it might work. I'm hoping, anyway! I plan to do some more research and see what my adviser thinks.
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