How to become an amateur physicist

In summary: You use your knowledge as a software engineer to apply it to physics. See if there are any areas of physics that you are particularly good at and then try to focus your research in that area.
  • #1
SuspectTax
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0
Hi, I'm a recently graduated software engineer. During my time at university I had initially planned to double major in both physics and computer science but eventually dropped physics since I didn't expect that I would pursue a PhD for monetary reasons. I really enjoyed physics during my time at university though and before dropping I had completed Classical Dynamics, Statistical Mechanics, and reasonably self-studied up through QM2.

While my mathematical skills aren't quite as honed as they were, I'm reasonably comfortable with vector calculus, ODEs, calculus of variations, and some abstract algebra and topology. Now that I've settled into life outside of university into software engineering, I'd like to jump back into physics, but I'm not sure what the best way of making a useful or valuable contribution to the literature or infrastructure.

I believe that I have the discipline to continue my education into upper-undergraduate and graduate level physics/math topics, so long as I have some kind of purpose to keep developing it(I.e. a directed research project).

All in all, I'd like to get involved in research in the physics community and I'm willing to invest time and effort into doing so, but I don't have the time to commit to a full PhD. What are the best options for me to make a meaningful contribution to ongoing physics research?

If its of any use, my primary research interests as of now are split between astrophysics and astrophysical phenomenology, and condensed matter physics.
 
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  • #2
SuspectTax said:
I don't have the time to commit to a full PhD
SuspectTax said:
What are the best options for me to make a meaningful contribution to ongoing physics research?

This is going to be hard. That's essentially what a PhD is.
 
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Likes russ_watters and symbolipoint
  • #3
Vanadium 50 said:
This is going to be hard. That's essentially what a PhD is.
Yeah, it’s less that I’m opposed to doing a PhD, and more that between my job, life, and a very committed hobby, a full PhD would be a big strain on everything else. As of now, I would say I’m capable of consistently committing somewhere between 6-10 hours per week on physics. I expect that later on in life I may be more free to commit to a full PhD, but until then I’d like to at least do something to build and maintain my skills in physics while also contributing to something valuable.
 
  • #4
6-10 hours per week is 10% of what a grad student spends. It takes a grad student 6 years on average to finish a PhD. You do the math. :smile:
 
  • #5
If you want to study physics for the fun of it and you are willing to put 6-10 hours weekly I'd say you could reach a level of a "master" degree with consistent work in a reasonable amount of time.

SuspectTax said:
All in all, I'd like to get involved in research in the physics community and I'm willing to invest time and effort into doing so, but I don't have the time to commit to a full PhD. What are the best options for me to make a meaningful contribution to ongoing physics research?

If its of any use, my primary research interests as of now are split between astrophysics and astrophysical phenomenology, and condensed matter physics.
Now, about this, I'd say your best bet is to try to use your knowledge as a software engineer and try to apply it to physics. It is far from my expertise so I can't say anything concrete, but try too look what is hot in computational physics and compare it with your current knowledge.
 

Related to How to become an amateur physicist

1. How can I become an amateur physicist?

Becoming an amateur physicist requires a strong passion for science and a willingness to learn. You can start by reading books, watching online lectures, and attending local science events to gain a basic understanding of physics principles. It is also helpful to join online communities or clubs where you can connect with other amateur physicists and exchange knowledge and ideas.

2. Do I need a formal education to become an amateur physicist?

No, a formal education is not necessary to become an amateur physicist. However, having a background in math and science can be beneficial. You can also take online courses or attend workshops to further your knowledge and skills.

3. What equipment do I need to become an amateur physicist?

You do not need expensive equipment to become an amateur physicist. You can start with simple tools such as a ruler, protractor, and calculator. As you progress, you can invest in more specialized equipment such as a microscope or telescope. Many amateur physicists also use computer programs and simulations to conduct experiments.

4. How can I conduct experiments as an amateur physicist?

There are many ways to conduct experiments as an amateur physicist. You can start by replicating classic experiments or designing your own experiments based on your interests. You can also collaborate with other amateur physicists or join online communities to share ideas and resources.

5. Can I publish my research as an amateur physicist?

Yes, you can publish your research as an amateur physicist. There are various online journals and platforms that accept submissions from amateur scientists. You can also present your findings at local science fairs or conferences. However, it is important to thoroughly research and follow proper scientific methods in order to ensure the validity and credibility of your work.

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