Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How to achieve this?

  1. Aug 11, 2008 #1
    Hi all
    I am just another nobody compared to the educated people here, hence I lurk around but have nothing accurate and factual to post about to contribute with real graduates. To be frank, I am daunted and no fan of the consistent and perpetual attacks that go around online, the amount of lies and people acting to be knowledgeable professionals who have no clue, the endless e-P contests that arise due to this and the pointless argumentations and aggressiveness, expecting the same if I asked a question or wanted to learn, so I tend to stay aloof. :redface:

    I am nearly 17 YO and studying 6x A-Levels in the UK. My father worked in the semiconductor business as a lithography tool operator and later, a microprocessor design engineer in the early 80s but later moved into his real expertise, which was mathematical physics. He worked in the US within a subdivision of the DoE but tragically died during an accident in the early 90s. I want to follow his footsteps and become someone he would've been proud of to do good for humans through science and maths, which he loved and strongly encouraged. So far in my study level, I find the maths and the 3x sciences very easy (but I suppose most would, things like integration/differentiation).

    I tend to read here at times and on www.physforum.com[/url] to gain knowledge. Over there, I only read posts of [URL="http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showuser=7197"]mr_homm[/URL], [URL="http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showuser=2997"]rpenner[/URL], [URL="http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showuser=8587"]AlphaNumeric[/URL] and a few other posters who professional friends of my father had advised since too much is waste for me as well as untrustworthy and unconfirmed. One website, the link my mother was given to a while ago for me to study links from, by one of my father's friends who (IIRC) is a professor in theoretical physics, I visit and tend to _try_ and study material from is this: [PLAIN]http://www.hep.phys.soton.ac.uk/~g.j.weatherill/ [Broken]

    This man called George, the author, writes under his About section that he works at SHEP which is exactly the same place I want to visit and work at in the future, although I am far off. I'd like to study and do research here: http://www.phys.soton.ac.uk/
    I can't even understand the work mentioned in many links he cited and yet I'm doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology at A-Levels. Kinda feels very daunting. Since my father died though, I have to work and support family and myself too, so it's become hard. I hardly ever get internet access which means studying is extremely disadvantaged combined with short time. I can only accomplish ~5% of what others with similar pursuits can in any given month and reading books is traditionally not one of my hobbies being very sport taken (unless my head can see how it'll help me, then generally I can read it forever).

    Maybe people here know and can advise me how to get to the position of the guy I linked. How would I go about with my career choices to get there... by what age... and how good do I have to be right now at my level to be on course? I am sure people here would've gone through similar routes to be able to help me first hand.

    Thanks for any help, greatly appreciated. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Firstly, welcome to PF: it's always good to have a member come out from the shadows! I have to say that I'm a little surprised by the fact that you're taking on 6 A levels: when I was in school, we only took 3. However, you are taking a good combination of subjects with a view to study physics later on. I think the best advice is just to stick with your studies, and try to get into a good university to study an undergraduate degree in physics. I would not recommend that you target specific departments for postgrad studies yet, since you don't know precisely what you want to study, and won't know until later on in your undergrad studies.

    The person you linked to appears to be a grad student in the hep group at southampton. It says in his "about me" page where he has studied: he obtained an undergrad degree in applied maths from cambridge, then took part III and is not studying at southampton.

    As for the level you should be, I would say you need to be obtaining A's in at least Maths and Physics A level, although things do get very different once you get into university.
  4. Aug 11, 2008 #3
    Thanks for the advice cristo. That agrees with what I was hoping was the right way. I have just finished 1st year and in that I actually did 8x A-Levels altogether. I'll narrow it down in this next year but I've been allowed special allowance by the headmaster to do upto 6 if I can cope with it. Teachers recommend 4. Everyone else I know is doing 3, you're right.
    Yes, he's a PhD student at Southampton HEP. I don't know him though.
    Should I be able to do any of http://www.hep.phys.soton.ac.uk/~g.j.weatherill/tutorial/phys2003/PH203PS1.pdf" [Broken] by end of A-Levels?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  5. Aug 11, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Just make sure you can handle that much work. Getting 3 or 4 A grades is a lot better than getting 6 B's.
    Not unless you do some outside reading. That looks like a second year university course.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  6. Aug 11, 2008 #5
    I've achieved the goal for the 1st year, 2nd year I am hoping to cut down to 4 and obviously 4 A's. It depends critically on the teacher I get though, one tutor out of 4 I do not get along with at all nor do I learn anything in how he teaches. If such a situation arises, I simply switch off and cannot learn a single word no matter how easy it is.

    Ah, no wonder I couldn't understand much of that link. :cool:
    When I mean understand, I'm my own biggest critic. I may understand far better than what many online individuals who claim to be professionals do, but unless I can understand it fully down to the core as my professor does, enough to teach it word for word, I won't claim proficiency. I believe teaching any topic helps and develops ones own understanding hugely with regards to it.
  7. Aug 12, 2008 #6
    Hi Jayme!

    I happen to have just completed my 3rd year of undergrad Physics at Southampton, and am just entering my masters. Oddly enough I once sat that problem sheet too, I can safely say that after completing one year of A-level study you are in no way expected to be prepared for that- and it pains me to say I have a fair few of colleagues who struggled with it in year 2!

    The amount of A-levels you are taking is impressive! Providing your success at A-level you will be more then qualified for a place at Southampton, who I think regularly offer AAB. Personally I rate Southampton as a dpt, it is friendly (if not a bit ugly) but is also busy with approachable lecturers - all things I like. The SHEP dpt is full of lovely characters too. Having said this, as much you seem to be set on Southampton, make sure you at least browse through other dpt, you never know what might grab your attention.

    You appear to have excellent drive, especially considering you said you are supporting yourself on top of a very heavy college workload. May I offer you one word of warning, even the brightest people feel pressure and stress - it would be a shame to burn yourself out due to too heavier workload, keep a beady eye on it. I've seen it happen to people and can be such a waste of potential.

    If you have any more questions about Southampton I'll answer them the best I can.

    Kind Regards

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook