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Hello! All of my undergraduate research so far was in experimental fields, mainly because most of my professors are doing that at the university. The few ones who are doing something more theoretical are mainly working on numerical simulations.

I have always been fascinated about theoretical physics/math and I was wondering if someone working in the field can tell me more about the process of doing research in these fields. I am curious about the way one approaches a theoretical problem (after one learns the work done before, of course). It just seems so overwhelming trying to tackle a problem that probably lots of brilliant physicists have failed to solve over tens or hundred of years. Of course a genius might attempt that. But i am not a genius.

What chances do I really have to find something they didn't? In experimental physics is different, as we have access to new theories and more important new technology that physicists in the past didn't have. So we have a great advantage over them. But in theoretical physics and math this is not the case (of course we might have some new mathematical tools, but I feel that is not that significant compared to the experimental case).

So given all this pressure of hundreds of brilliant minds failing, how does one proceeds? And what does one do if they fail? For example aiming to solve one or more problems as part of your PhD, you actually have to solve them, if you want to graduate. But most probably others have failed before, so how do you know if you can solve them?

You might never get a PhD simply because the problems are too hard. Can someone give me some insight into this? I am thinking to do some research in theoretical physics with a professor at another university, so I would like to know about all this, before making a choice. Thank you!

I have always been fascinated about theoretical physics/math and I was wondering if someone working in the field can tell me more about the process of doing research in these fields. I am curious about the way one approaches a theoretical problem (after one learns the work done before, of course). It just seems so overwhelming trying to tackle a problem that probably lots of brilliant physicists have failed to solve over tens or hundred of years. Of course a genius might attempt that. But i am not a genius.

What chances do I really have to find something they didn't? In experimental physics is different, as we have access to new theories and more important new technology that physicists in the past didn't have. So we have a great advantage over them. But in theoretical physics and math this is not the case (of course we might have some new mathematical tools, but I feel that is not that significant compared to the experimental case).

So given all this pressure of hundreds of brilliant minds failing, how does one proceeds? And what does one do if they fail? For example aiming to solve one or more problems as part of your PhD, you actually have to solve them, if you want to graduate. But most probably others have failed before, so how do you know if you can solve them?

You might never get a PhD simply because the problems are too hard. Can someone give me some insight into this? I am thinking to do some research in theoretical physics with a professor at another university, so I would like to know about all this, before making a choice. Thank you!

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