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Higher Education General Relativity

  1. Aug 4, 2009 #1
    I am an electronics and comms engineering with Masters in space systems and am currently working in spacecraft development for the LISA spacecraft in the Uk (am 26 now.)

    I am a physics enthusiast as of now and am seriously thinking to pursue academic career in Physics (GR and Cosmology in particular). I started from slightly above (from Hamiltonian mechanics) the basics. I am only reading textbooks, practising a few of problems and listening to lectures.

    I would ideally like to enrol to casm (Part III) in a couple of years, by when I hope (wish) to kind of go through pre-requisite subjects for Part III General Relativity. I have mailed couple of universities about my eligibility for a PhD, but they thought I have less knowledge of Maths, to deal with GR/Cosmo as of now and the professor from Oxford suggested doing experimental Physics PhD.

    Ok... enough of background: basically I am fix. I am interested in theoretical Physics more. I dont exactly know what is experimental physics. Will they get a chance to know theoretical physics?

    I have two questions:

    1. Based on what you know about the people admitted CASM, is it likely for me to secure a place after another two years of self study - by then I will be 28!

    2. Or Is it better, to do experimental physics focussing on gravitaional waves, CMB etc

    I would greatly appreciate your valuable suggestions/advices.

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2009 #2
    Cambridge and Oxford will try and put you off, as they already have too many of their brightest undergrads wanting to so these sexy subjects. You will find it next-to-impossible to get hired as a lecturer/researcher in theoretical cosmology, even if you manage to get to do Part III GR - which itself is unlikely. Why not work part time for a PhD in space systems alongside your work, study GR in your spare time, and when you get a space science tenured lectureship move slowly into GR research. You could tell your prof that you want to see how GR will affect spacecraft orbits, if you want to keep on his good side. But you will have tenure, so then you can do what you want...

    P.S. I managed to get on Sussex's MSc astronomy course with a 2(i) from Leicester in "combined science". So you don't need an Oxbridge first in mathematical physics to get in everywhere! In my day (couple of decades ago) Sussex had no suitable courses in GR, and an inferior one in Cosmology. As I insisted on doing a Cosmology project I had to teach myself GR and advanced cosmology! Looking at the latest syllabus, things seem to have greatly improved, and you can even do a Cosmology MSc:

    MSc in Cosmology

    This is one of only two MSc programmes in cosmology in the UK. Its main emphasis is on observational and theoretical cosmology in the pre- and post-recombination universe. You will take courses on cosmology and relativistic field theory, and can choose from a variety of further courses on the early universe, galactic structure, general relativity, and the distant universe. You will be supervised by a member of faculty under whose guidance you will work on a small research project.

    Maybe they listened to me when I said they should provide more interesting courses :-) :-)

    You can take it part-time.

    As you are working on spacecraft, is there no way you could link your work to doing research into GR and its affects on orbits or clocks? Then you could maybe get them to fund a part-time MSc at Sussex, and do a project involving GR & spacecraft.
  4. Aug 5, 2009 #3
    I really appreciate your reply, thanks for that. It really sounds sensible to me. I had explored Space Science opportunities:

    http://www.iop.org/activity/policy/Research Fields in Physics/file_27781.pdf

    And could only find a few universities like Leicester and Surrey. Part Time is impossible to me as I work in Bristol now. But this suggestion goes the way towards future. I am trying Part III, so that I can get into PhD, possibly here or in the United States. Should I not get there after two years of self study and potentially becoming a citizen here (Fees are pretty high for internationals)... I will try and do it your way.

    Thanks a ton for your advise...
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