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I want to study all fields in physics. but how ?

  1. Dec 20, 2009 #1


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    please,Help me to choose my career.

    Need URGENT help for my Physics career.Plz Help me to choose.

    Hi Physics forum,
    I am kiran from India, studying undergraduate physics final year.
    I am going to study in UK. still I am searching for good university.

    I am going to complete my bachelor's degree in 2010 march.I want to do M.sci in Physics.

    What is difference between Mathematical physics and Theoretical Physics ?
    what is mathematics and theoretical physics course?

    I want to study theoretical physics (I am good at math !).
    I want to study all the fields in Physics except medical physics,geo-physics (I love some facts in it).

    If I take

    -Nuclear Physics I miss Astrophysics.
    -If I take one I miss other ....
    -If I take quantum. I miss cosmology and others.
    I love astronomy too !!!

    I am ready to spend my whole life for physics like a soldier in a battle sacrifices his life.
    I gave up every enjoyment in life. I don't need it.cos I enjoy science.
    I am going to be celibate. My only friend in my life is Physics,math and all science stuff.
    I am intellectual (ever since I was Kid). I never had friends.
    never had good teacher other than Nature her self and great persons from history.
    I Love Nature and her laws.

    so, Which course I need to take in physics ?
    I love string theory too.
    Quantum mechanics(esp. cats in it) all ! Even Optics ... Light,heat,electricity and magnetism,modern Physics all.
    My girl friend physics attracts me in every dimension. math helps me to measure her beauty.

    I am living today to satisfy my curiosity.
    My desire to know the unknown
    I love chemistry too..
    I don't care even if I am lonely. I gave up everything.

    My work speaks, What I can do !
    I believe in my abilities.
    I will never give up even if I fail.

    What do I need to take ?
    Which course in physics ?
    I am thinking of theoretical physics. guessing it would cover everything in physics.

    I don't need any thing in life other than Physics math and science stuff.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2009 #2


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    Science Advisor

    One thing I can suggest is if you really want to do move into different areas, you should map out your priorities and specialize based on whats the most important. Everyone has to prioritize at some point especially the people that are overachievers and want to do it all because the truth is we can't do it all, all at once.

    As far as I'm aware theoretical physics requires a lot of math (think graduate math) and if you are that way inclined you would most likely have to do coursework in differential geometry, functional analysis, graduate algebra, analysis and a plethora of other things to get up to speed with theoretical physics.

    Its good that you have that self-affirmation but I would think about communicating with your "peers" if you make into a grad program. Physics not to mention its theoretical counterpart is tough. If you go into that field you will have to produce work and defend it before a panel. In supposing that you get past the PhD stage and find a job, you will be more than likely working with other people. Your publications are going to read and scrutinized by other people.

    There is a book by Stephan Krantz about the process of going through academia to getting tenure and becoming a professor but its about doing it in mathematics not physics. Its called "The survival of a mathematician: from tenure to emeritus" by Stephan Krantz. That should hopefully give you an idea of what you are in for if you choose that path. Although it is mathematically oriented I would assume that some points are equally valid for the academic physicist.

    My background is with mathematics not physics however and I'm sure people can step in with the appropriate advice for physics.
  4. Dec 20, 2009 #3


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    thank you Chiro !
  5. Dec 20, 2009 #4


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    Chiro, you should also note that the book by Krantz's is for Phd in North America more than it's for Phd in Britain.
  6. Dec 20, 2009 #5


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    Are you really a physicist?
  7. Dec 20, 2009 #6


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    No, I am a student.
  8. Dec 20, 2009 #7


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    Yes thats actually a good point. Do you know a similar book for the UK based system?
  9. Dec 20, 2009 #8


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    Not a book, but if anyone wants to get accepted for example to Cambridge for pure maths, then there's an unofficial guide written by Tom Korner from DPMMS, which can be found in their site.
    I also found some guides from sites of Bristol and Edinburgh Universities for prospective postgraduate students, with the formalities of the Phd.

    I must say that I am not a Phd student yet, and apparently will not do my graduate studies abroad (I live in isreal), though things may change. (2 more semesters left for my UG degree).
  10. Dec 26, 2009 #9
    Hey SBC,

    From my experience, I would like to tell you that this is the age of specialists and not polymaths. As someone already mentioned, you must consider your priorities. Science today is highly specialized. Lots of basic things are already known. Experiments have to run for days. Think of the LHC. How long did scientists have to wait to realize its proper functioning? And in theory, it takes even longer to come out with something new. So, if you move in all directions, chances are very high that you are a master of none. You might have heard of "publish or perish", and this is very true. In order to publish, you have to have one particular direction. Of course you can change, and have a few more directions, but not too many. After all there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days time in a week.

    Next I want to comment on your love for science. Although it is good that you are so dedicated to science in general, one basic arm of science is communication. Think of Hawking without his support equipments in the time of Newton. Though he might have been a genius, he would not have all his support equipment to express himself. So, would he have left any mark on scientific achievements? So, its important that you come out of your closed-door mentality and communicate with peers.

    You also mentioned that you are a student. If you do not have any research experience, I would like to tell you that research and learning are very different activities. You might be too good at learning, but research depends on lots of other factors - a little bit of on luck as well. Think of the many important discoveries in the history of science. Many were discovered accidentally.

    Hope this helps you to be motivated. BTW even I kill a lot of time in trying to be a polymath. Its not bad, but it definitely takes time away from me that I could use in my main research field.
  11. Dec 26, 2009 #10


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    I can understand what you really meant.
    thank you for telling me this.
    I consider this as your advice.

    I will choose one.
  12. Dec 26, 2009 #11
    You really have to know

    1. How quickly you can learn .

    2. How much work can you put in.

    I am not necessarily asking you to SPECIALIZE, but you should be an expert in ATLEAST one field. I suggest trying to do that before anything. However, one that is proficient
    in multiple fields is obviously an advantage in research.
  13. Dec 26, 2009 #12


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    I am good at other fields to .. but which one are are talking about?
  14. Jul 12, 2010 #13

    Good to see that u hav got interest in all fields. But one imp thing is 'u hav to hold ur nerve and be patient and hold ur enthusiasm to the same extent in ur future. becoz u'll find very few people with this kind of enthu. and very few people encourages u. they say its not going to work now a days. but u hav to be brave at tht time and stick to ur interest.'

    Gud luck.

  15. Jul 12, 2010 #14
    A soldier is 10x the man a physicist will ever be. I'll tell you that now. By the way, SBC, you should seriously AND I MEAN SERIOUSLY consider making your life more well rounded. It's stupid to just concentrate on one thing. Leonardo Da Vinci concentrated on painting/engineering/science/etcv..
  16. Jul 12, 2010 #15
    i share you're enthusiasm for all fields, and i want so bad to reproduce every phenomena in my head, and make significant contributions to theoretical physics,, but there just isn't enough time of course that doesn't you stop trying u just keep in mind that -unfortunately - u have to make compromises but still at the same time get a sort of comprehensive understanding of reality, that's why i will go into high energy physics and cosmology which are the most fundamental, ask the biggest questions, and cosmology/astrophysics have most of the fields of physics in them.
  17. Jul 12, 2010 #16
    I've heard that cosmologists don't really break into the field and establish themselves until they're well over their 50s. Also they have to give a significant portion of their lives dedicated to the subject and you don't get laid as much due to the fact that you're constantly working in that field.
  18. Jul 18, 2010 #17


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    Thank you, however I am in confusion.
    I sometimes even cry after making choice.
    Cos I might miss something in nature.
  19. Jul 18, 2010 #18


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    Yes I agree, my life is filled with desires to know the unknown.
    I am always in confusion.

    Thank you for your reply.
  20. Jul 18, 2010 #19
    you might miss smthing in nature, when you think about everything you don't know or understand, you will want to take it all at once, but that's not possible it takes time; so you study or think about some things before others, or maybe you go to some fields before others
    and some things may never get time and you will be frustrated through all of this.

    but if you love all of nature's aspects and you truly feel a great curiosity towards this existence (reality) you should be satisfied along the way, each day learning new things understanding new ideas or looking at smthing from a different perspective in a new light,, and you work your way up to have as much knowledge and understanding about this universe as possible before you die,, then you will be too happy at every step of the way.
  21. Jul 18, 2010 #20


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    Yeah, I have desire for Chemistry and Biology not much as Physics.
    Oh man!! in olden days it was easy for our early scientists like Isaac Newton to be Alchemist,Physicist and Mathematician and more.However NOW to cover up HUGE present knowledge it almost takes life time. It's not fair and I believe that our education system should be changed so that student would cover knowledge such as string theory in degree level it self.

    Or personally I have to find a way to finish the understanding our present knowledge as early as possible to study other fields.

    Now my aim is to acknowledge my self with present knowledge and use it for my creativity.

    Even today I am trying to do it. However, I need to take help of a professor to do it successfully.

    still trying to find the way to cover up present knowledge. As Hawking said, "to achieve highest goals in Physics we need to be updated with present knowledge..." something like that in Theory of everything lecturers!
  22. Jul 19, 2010 #21
    Alright, I have a few things to say after reading the responses on this thread.

    First, I would like to say that your interest in all aspects of science is great. I find that at my college, all the physics majors hate biology and chemistry, all the biology majors hate physics and math, and so on so forth. It's great to find someone that loves everything. But I would like to mention that science isn't the sole aspect of life. I strongly recommend that you try to break out of this idea that all you need is a love of science. Love of science is great, but I would definitely say that social aspects of life are great, and you would be missing out on something abstaining from it.

    Second, I'm not sure what your goals are. Do you want to simply "study" and learn about science, or are you working towards contribution. If you want to contribute, I would say that social skills are extremely vital. Science is a collaborative work. You have to work with other people, and be able to communicate well. Although there are some exceptions to this, I would say that most of the great scientists of our age have been very good at communicating, at least on a small scale, with other people. Some of the most respected professors at my college, also happen to be very cool people.

    Also I would also recommend you study English. This goes hand in hand with communication. Going by the assumption that you want to be a scientist and contribute, English is also going to be very important (Sorry to the non-native speaking English people, it's a fact of life. Not saying that other languages like Chinese, German, French or Hindi wouldn't be useful, it's just English is the most widely used one). Just going by your posts, I would say that at least in flow and grammar, English is something you need to work on if you want to be able to function properly in a scientific community. I don't mean this is a bad way, and if you really are good at English and it's just the posts that are a bit off, I apologize.

    I'd like to second what was said earlier about how this is a time of specialization in science. Science has grown much larger than it was hundreds of years ago, back when it was easier to be a polymath and do things in multiple areas of science. Now, just due to the large proportions, you have to specialize to be able to do work in a timely manner. The start up time just to get into a field (getting a PhD) is huge compared to the relative breadth of the topic you get a PhD in. You spend years learning the basis of a small topic, just to know enough to be able to get into the field. Imagine how long it would take to learn about multiple topics, and still be able to do work, not to mention not forgetting things over time. It's not a matter of learning things earlier either. I would say that, most people wouldn't be able to understand relativity to it's fullest when they're in primary school. I believe that education could be sped up a bit, but not enough to make a difference when it comes to trying to be a polymath. I understand if you want to learn about lots of different things, but you risk not being able to anything in any field if you try to stretch yourself out too much. Doing something in one field, is better than doing nothing in any field.
  23. Jul 19, 2010 #22


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    thank you for your reply.
    my desire is to know the GOD through physics.
    not worrying about prizes and fame.(they come when I enjoy my subject)

    I said I love biology cos I love EVOLUTION of human, plants and animals.(as planned by god)
    I said I love chemistry cos (I want to know how these chemical reactions work as set and planned by GOD who created elements as seen in periodic table)

    I love it cos it's exciting. however, I don't want to go and dig deeper cos I wont get time for physics.

    I study because "It's Exciting"
    I study it because "it's about laws of GOD". it's about our MOM Nature.
    I study it cos "To satisfy my curiosity"
    I study it cos "I FEEL THE DESIRE OF INFINITY"
    I feel universe from NOTHINGNESS.
    I do it cos "It's my basic instinct"..I have desire for it (it comes form the stars, when I look at them in the night sky.. * * *)

    I feel singularity... I love it cos I feel Physics. It's the entanglement between me and my love Physics. (in fact all humans must have this but they don't discover)

    it's kind of feeling I have since my childhood.
    My mind is intellectual Zone, where I feel happy.

    I can't explain it in words, if you love physics may be you would feel the same.

    My IELTS score is 6.0 and my English academic percentage is 76%.

    I speak in English everyday cos I gave promise to my teacher when I was in 9th grade that I would speak in English to be pro in it. Ironically I am not speaking in my first language Telugu or Hindi.

    Moreover, I don't have friends nor good at Social communications with people. I get hurt thinking about them.Therefore, I gave up, I love to be lonely. (I am thinking to become celibate)

    I believe life is nothing but learning things in every way. Life is about how one would use the TIME. I knew that money is also very important to live therefore I have other skills to deal with it.

    I failed many times in my life in academics (This is the biggest lesson in my life), I never give up. As I enjoy my subject I get M.sc or P.HD.... (or whatever this Human society would give me)

    In the end I want to feel the GOD, I have same desire as all physicist have that is to know mind of GOD. I am just 0.0001% close to him.. HA HA..!!

    Remember: I don't worry about success as I have my creativity and skills with me and as I enjoy my love(Physics) nothing is impossible.

    In fact, existence of Our Universe is impossible if you talk about probability.

    Kiran K
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  24. Jul 19, 2010 #23
    Yeah, I get what you're saying. I think something that would be very good for you would be to self study things, on top of getting an education. This might help alleviate some of the stress you are getting when thinking that choosing one thing means abandoning the others. Instead, it would just be choosing one thing to work on, and then still learning about the others. Since learning seems to be your main motivation, reading books should work just as well.

    In my opinion, I think that, other than just science, you should try to work on people. One of the main reasons that humans have been as successful as we are today is our unparalleled social interactions. We're able to work together, and communicate. It's what allowed us to make the jump as a species over all other animals. I'd say that the fact that you even get hurt when you think about friends and things like that is saying something. Perhaps deep down it's what you really need. Sometimes the things that hurt are the things that you direly need to work out. But that's just my opinion.
  25. Jul 19, 2010 #24


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    yeah I am trying to understand this society. it's very difficult thing for me ha ha...
  26. Jul 19, 2010 #25
    Yeah, well just don't give up. You just have to try to keep an open mind. People can be just as interesting as a class or book or something. You just can't have a mental block saying "people are boring, science is the only interesting thing".
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