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I'm at a crossroads

  1. Feb 7, 2005 #1
    Hi there.

    I am soon to start attending university but I find myself unsure about what to choose to study. My parents push me towards engineering but to be honest I think that being an engineer is a bit too buisnessy for me, I do however enjoy physics and am interested in it very much. The problem is I know of no-one who is a physicist so I do not know what to expect. Personally I do not hear of many job offers when it comes to physics and I only have a vague image of what being a physicist (i.e. A grey haired man sitting next to a black board writing the day away trying to [dis]prove a theory, which is ok by me :smile: )

    Basically I want to know what a physicist does and if there is even any demand for physicists. If it is of any help I come from Malta which is sadly a bit backwards when it comes to hard science so I may have to go abroad to study after I get a B.Sc and perhaps even to work.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2005 #2
  4. Feb 7, 2005 #3
    As I'm sure others here will tell you, don't let yourself be pushed into a field that your not interested in. Like any hard science degree, an engineering degree requires a serious course load. Without a major commitment, the odds are against you getting through it if it's not something you love.
  5. Feb 8, 2005 #4

    While i agree that you should do what you want to do because you enjoy it, i have to disagree with that alst statement. You'd be amazed how many people get by looking forward to nothing more than a paycheck in a job they hate. Still, good advice: pick the one you want for itself, not for the paycheck.
  6. Feb 8, 2005 #5


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    Having ideals is good. However, at some point, it has to be tempered with reality.

    Thank you to astraltourist for recommending my essay. In that series, and in the "My Physics Experience" essay, I have consciously tried to convey what I said above. Try your darndest to pursue what you love. However, at the same time you are pursuing this, make sure you never ignore the possibility that you may NOT be able to do exactly what you want. What this means is that you try to get as wide and as large of a variety of experience, skills, and knowledge as you can. Learn computational methods, learn how to use and maintain ultra-high vacuum systems, learn how to make thin-films, etc. irregardless of what you intend to pursue. I cringe when I hear students tell me "oh, I want to be a theorist. I don't need to know how to use an SEM".

    Pursuing one's goals doesn't mean one has to abandon all resemblance of the the workings of the real world. One always has to consider the likely possibility that one may not end up where one planned.

  7. Feb 8, 2005 #6


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    True. I seem to have chosen the path of mathematics and there's one thing a mathematician must learn: Programming.

    Saves a lot of time.

    I've constructed a sequence, not randomly chosen or silly, and would take like a week to construct just the first 5 numbers. Thanks to the computer, it takes minutes although the first 100 takes awhile.
  8. Feb 8, 2005 #7

    Yes, programming languages are your friend.
  9. Feb 8, 2005 #8
    Thanks for your advice, I'm sure it will prove useful somehow :smile:
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