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How to know more about the frontiers of modern physics research?

  1. Nov 5, 2014 #1
    I'm a first year physics undergraduate. I'm trying to look for some research opportunities as becoming a physicist is always my target. However, I simply have no idea how the current research is going on, and before I approach any professors I guess I should already have some basic understanding in that specific field, right? So, how can I keep track of the current development of scientific research? I know I should read some journals, but are there any strategies of reading those journals and papers? Right now, I'm particularly interested in the 'small things' like quantum optics, solid state and condensed matter, but I may consider other fields as well. Are there any journals that I must definitely read? Besides, as a first year student, I guess I will come across lots of concepts or topics that I've never heard of while reading journal articles. What should I do in these cases? I mean how well do I need to understand the topics in order to have a good overview of a field?

    btw, I study in the UK and the things I've learnt/read are: Griffith EM ch.1-9, some Lagrangian Mechanics, very basic QM(one dimensional potential in a well, potential barrier, etc, but haven't learnt the hydrogen atom), some SR, 1st and 2nd Law in thermodynamics (just started to read some Stat Mech books)

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2014 #2
    Are you a member of the Institute of Physics? When you join you get access to PhysicsWorld, which will contain non-technical and semi-technical reports on developments in physics. If you find a particular article interesting, there's usually a link to the paper at the bottom of the article, which you should be able to access through the internet of your University. You can usually also access journals by setting up a VPN/proxy at home to gain access thrugh your institution's subscription. here's usually information on the University computer services website on how to set such a thing up.

    Many UK universities have formal research programmes for undergraduates in the summer of their 2nd year for a 3-year degree or 3rd year for a 4-year degree, although this varies for Scottish universities, so it may be worth you looking into whether such a programme exists at your institution.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  4. Nov 5, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Does your department have a colloquium series? Most do. If so, are you attending regularly?
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