How did you find your reasearch area in theoretical physics?

In summary: If next year, then your school probably has a grad program that you could look into. 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.
  • #1
anachin6000
51
3
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 into 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?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
anachin6000 said:
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.
 
  • #3
Are you graduating this year or next year?
 

Related to How did you find your reasearch area in theoretical physics?

1. How did you become interested in theoretical physics?

I have always been fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and the laws that govern it. As a child, I was drawn to books and documentaries about space and the fundamental forces of nature. This curiosity led me to pursue a degree in physics, where I was exposed to the world of theoretical physics and its potential to answer some of the most fundamental questions about our universe.

2. What inspired you to choose your specific research area in theoretical physics?

During my undergraduate studies, I took courses in various branches of physics, including quantum mechanics, relativity, and cosmology. However, it was my exposure to the field of particle physics and its attempts to unify the fundamental forces that truly captured my interest. I was fascinated by the complex mathematical models and the potential to understand the building blocks of our universe on a fundamental level.

3. How did you narrow down your research topic within the broad field of theoretical physics?

Choosing a specific research topic within theoretical physics can be challenging, as the field is vast and constantly evolving. To narrow down my focus, I read extensively about current research and attended conferences and seminars to learn about the latest developments. I also consulted with my professors and colleagues to discuss potential research areas and their feasibility. Ultimately, I chose a topic that aligned with my interests and had the potential for significant contributions to the field.

4. What challenges did you face in your research and how did you overcome them?

Research in theoretical physics can be highly challenging, as it involves complex mathematical models and requires a deep understanding of fundamental principles. I faced challenges in understanding and implementing certain mathematical concepts and in interpreting experimental data. To overcome these challenges, I sought guidance from my mentors and collaborated with other researchers in the field. I also spent countless hours studying and practicing to improve my skills and knowledge.

5. How does your research contribute to the field of theoretical physics?

My research focuses on the development of new mathematical models to explain the behavior of fundamental particles and their interactions. By exploring uncharted territory in theoretical physics, my research has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the fundamental laws of nature and to advance our knowledge of the universe. It also has practical applications in fields such as technology and medicine, which rely on our understanding of these fundamental principles.

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
1
Views
669
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
37
Views
4K
Replies
35
Views
3K
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
9
Views
360
Replies
22
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
1K
Back
Top