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How a Theoretical Physicist Makes Themselves Useful to Society?

  1. Oct 18, 2009 #1
    How have some of you used your knowledge of physics to serve others, and be a contributing member of society? Or: any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2009 #2
    I played a small role in preventing the world financial system from collapsing, and by doing so helped prevent a second great depression.
  4. Oct 18, 2009 #3


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    This is a puzzling question. It seems to imply that theoretical physicists only work in areas of physics that are esoteric and no relations to anything applicable. Do you think that theoretical physicists only work in subjects like high energy physics and string theory?

    Look up the name "John Bardeen". He was a theorist, and without him, your modern electronics (your computer, iPods, etc..) would not work.

  5. Oct 18, 2009 #4
    Enhancing humanity's knowledge of the universe is a pretty fine contribution to society.
  6. Oct 18, 2009 #5
    I wasn't insinuating anything. I was just wondering how I could make use of my skills *now*. Namely: I'm not yet educated enough to publish anything in what seems to be my advisor's field (quantum electrodynamics).

    However, I sure as heck know how to take a derivative and I have about an undergraduate's understanding of physics. (a splash of QM, a bit of classical mechanics at the calc of variations level, a bit of electrodynamics): how can I serve people with these? (And...perhaps...build up my resume a bit, too...if I may be selfish :-p).
  7. Oct 19, 2009 #6
    I don't know about building up your resume, but you can build up your wallet's size by tutoring at a good price(really depends on where you are).

    I live near a relatively small city and a friend of mine has been posting ads for tutoring at the high school level for $50 an hour and is getting hits. $50 and hour is pretty damn good money, and you would be sort of ....serving......or at least making money off of your services!

    If you can get ten to twenty hours a week you could be making a ton. I'm sure you could easily pass the Praxis exam to pad your resume.
  8. Oct 19, 2009 #7
    Basically, what I'm asking: I'm not yet at the level of physics-education where I can publish the solutions to current problems in physics. Is there anything I can do in the meantime that helps society?
  9. Oct 19, 2009 #8


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    As mentioned, tutoring is great. I imagine you could help kids at the high school or undergraduate level. That's really all there is to do at this point, if you want to use what you've been learning at least.
  10. Oct 19, 2009 #9
    The vast. vast. vast majority of people who work for the benefit of society, as you put it, don't do it by publishing the solutions to current problems in physics.

    Go volunteer for something you believe in.
  11. Oct 20, 2009 #10
    Teaching high school is not 'sort of' serving, it *is* serving!
  12. Oct 20, 2009 #11


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    Helping society does not require being a physicist. A variety of highly educated people in sciences or engineering can help society. The purpose of a physicist is not really to help society; it is to understand and explain. The purpose of other educated and trained people is to help society (although sometimes applications of theirs actually hurt society a bit).

    Analytical, quantitative, and sometimes computer-programming skills, themselves without having any particular finished Degree are enough to do useful things in some small segment of society. Anyone with at least some physics education would be able to solve some problems using Arithmetic (and sometimes a bit of Geometry) combined with chosen fundamental principles. Solving problems is helping at least some small part of society.
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