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Other How did you find your reasearch area in theoretical physics?

Hi guys, I find it hard to decide what to work on. To give some background, I am a bachelor student and I want to work in theoretical research. I talked with a professor (he is the chief of the theory department) at my uni about this and he expects me to find a topic or an area of research for my bachelor thesis, so that I can work on it as soon as possible in order to have time to do something meaningful that will help me get into a good graduate program. (He sees promise in me because I'm actually among the top students in my uni and I aced all my exams so far while also doing extra work.) But the harder I try to decide the harder it gets. The description of my problem is written quite badly, mostly because I'm bad at explaining, so if you don't feel like reading it jump to the TL,DR paragraph at the end.

I have tried looking through articles in various journal to get a feeling for what are main ideas of interest and I hoped to eventually find some mentions of problems that can be improved or which are not solved at all yet. But I found myself drowning in an ocean of articles on very niche topics that are hard to understand. When I say this I don't want to complain about my lack of knowledge. What I mean is that those extremely niche topics require a lot of skimming through references in order to get an idea of what is going on and it is hard to invest that time on so many different articles on so many different topics.

Another problem I've been facing is the lack of accessibility. Whenever I find an interesting article that looks like something I could understand more easily, I see that I have to pay to read it. And I'm sure it is not a good idea to pay for articles just because I like the title.

I also have no idea of what is manageable. I find it hard to find a preference of particle physics over nuclear physics for example when I can't find some specific directions of research or some people to give me an idea on the difference effort that has to be put in to understand them. To illustrate further, I know, for example, that quantum gravity is a problem of interest, but articles concerning it just discuss extremely specific things and reference similarly specific works. Because of this it is quite hard to know if I would enjoy this more than something else.

TL,DR For the reserchers and the more advanced students that work in theoretical physics research, how did you choose your field and what makes it more interesting over the others (in your opinion)?

Also, how do you manage to keep up with this mess in the ocean of articles?
 

Choppy

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Another problem I've been facing is the lack of accessibility. Whenever I find an interesting article that looks like something I could understand more easily, I see that I have to pay to read it. And I'm sure it is not a good idea to pay for articles just because I like the title.
Talk to your professors about this, or go to your school's library and talk to a librarian. They should be able to show you how to access journals through the school's library. You may even be able to link your library access to some common databases like google scholar so that access comes up automatically when you search. That's a major timesaver.

The only other advice I might offer is not to worry too much about picking the "right" project for an undergrad thesis. Of course you want one that's interesting and that will allow you to explore an area that you're interested in, but I think it's easy to lost in trying to pick the perfect project. You don't need to win the Nobel Prize with this one. And usually, what you can accomplish in the period of a semester or two is quite limited. Talk to other professors. Talk to some of the grad students and post docs. Consider the people you'll be working with and the skills that you'll develop as well.
 

Vanadium 50

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Are you graduating this year or next year?
 

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