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Is Physicist the right path for me?

  1. Feb 8, 2012 #1
    It's really a question of whether research is for me or not. I don't know the answer because I haven't had a chance to research full time. I hope Physics forum may give me some guidance and advice.

    I am a sophomore in college majoring in Computational Physics, because I love Physics and I like programming. Programming seems to be a gateway to everything in today's technological world. Recently I am helping my professor on some calculation for dipole moment of some superconductors. I realized research is a lot of reading. The progress is rather slow, failures come after failures. The result and direction is unclear in research. Well so far I enjoy it.

    However, I am not sure if I will enjoy it when I become full time researcher?

    Although math is what nature speaks in, I am not a math guy. I don't like math classes in general. I don't like how math language is formulated on books. if g(t) and p(t) are whatever, such that whatever, then whatever, etc. It annoys me and confuses me. I can work with math but I find it a hassle to get in depth with it.
    However I see the elegance of math when I see how it resembles a physical quantity. I get very excited to see Maxwell Equations and how a fundamental idea derived from a set of equation. I appreciate the idea instead of the math behind it.

    I wouldn't want to sit in an office for most of my life to solve equations.
    But I like Physics a lot that I can't think of myself in any other career.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2012 #2


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    Hey calvinjhfeng and welcome to the forums.

    From your comment on failures, I think that you have been exposed to one of the more important points of research being that there is no gaurantee and that failures are the standard operating procedure in this environment.

    In terms of appreciating the idea instead of the math, this discussion is a debate in itself.

    The mathematics is intended on one level to convey a particular set of ideas in a compact form. There are many different ways to do this but depending on the particular method used, it will convey a particular idea.

    The key thing is to find the best way to convey your particular idea and to understand what the different forms are conveying in terms of the mathematical language used.

    This kind of thing usually takes a lot of reflection and pondering as well as just progressing to eventually making the connections.

    Some particular analyses and viewpoints of mathematics will probably not help you much in a particular context and that is ok, but I would be hesitant in avoiding mathematics in the sense that could be implied from your posts.

    Mathematics is not just for pure mathematicians: it is a way to convey the ideas of the minds of scientists, engineers, and researchers of many many fields.

    Having said the above though, the fact that you can deal with repeated failure with a clear head is a good sign that you will be able to do research and I imagine the other primary things are your understanding of the baseline material as well as other nontechnical things which you no doubt have gained as a result of working with your professor.
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