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Is There a Mathematical Physics Degree?

  1. Dec 20, 2012 #1
    Hi, I am wondering if there is a mathematical physics degree. I was thinking about doing consultant/contract work for applied or research physicists, insofar that I would be paid to help establish/confirm the mathematical foundations of their work or research.

    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2012 #2
    I could be wrong, but is this not what the "peer review" part of publishing papers is about?

    Yes, I believe bachelor's in mathematical physics do exist at some UK universities. That said, they merely replace some labs with more math courses, and do not seem to be what you have in mind.

    To the best of my knowledge, what you seek to do is part of the job of being an academic researcher.
  4. Dec 20, 2012 #3


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  5. Dec 21, 2012 #4
    No, I believe that is checking the work that has already been submitted. In other words, they don't establish a foundation for the submitted work -- that's expected to have already been done by the research team.

    Thank-you for your effort. As you've put it, it sounds like a fairly specialized, small field. So if this is the case, then I wonder how easy it would be to find a job with the degree. (Also, I live in the States.)
  6. Dec 21, 2012 #5
    You want to be a consultant to physicists? Check the work of PhDs? And have them pay you at consultant rates? While you have some undergraduate degree?

    Your problems are more fundamental than which degree to choose.
  7. Dec 21, 2012 #6
    Whatever my problems may be at least one of them isn't speaking rudely to people.

    If you don't have anything helpful or kind to say, please don't post in my threads.
  8. Dec 21, 2012 #7
    Everthing I said was helpful. Try answering my questions & you will see how logical your path is.
  9. Dec 21, 2012 #8
    You don't find what Devils said to be helpful? He was pointing out the flaws in your plan. It's very vague what you want to do. Like Mepris said, what you want seems to be the job of an academic researcher. Chances are the paper already contains enough math for its intended purpose. No one is going to pay someone for something that doesn't need to be done, especially someone with only an undergraduate degree. Researchers do speak with their colleagues and others in the field about their work. These would be the people first to go to for whatever it is that you are wanting to do.
  10. Dec 21, 2012 #9
    Yes, that's true & done purposeful. So let's continue to talk about it open-endedly :smile:

    To be open & clear, I never said undergraduate degree. So however far I would need to go.

    It was described to me many years ago, when I was in college for the first time, that there was a degree you could get called mathematical physics -- wherein you assisted physicists or physics based researchers by providing proof for the research. And since there are many kinds of research from manufacturers & businesses to academics & private teams, then it always seemed that there would be a wide variety of wiggle room in this job area. For example, some businesses might want to just hire your skills for a short project, while a private institution might want to have you on as a salaried position.

    I like working a free/non-salaried schedule, so prefer the contract or hourly part-time / 3/4 time work most.

    I'm not sure if the following is impractical or misunderstood, but if it is please let me know: I'm really just interested in providing the mathematical proof/foundation for their research, and not interested in getting involved in the theorizing or lab work. Perhaps, they hand me their proposed equations (set in some context of work their doing) and I just run the math on it and hand it back with a 'yay' or 'nay,' along with any other special requests for emphasis that they wanted. They hand it to their company superiors, journal or whatever with the math included in their results and that's that. I think assisting a theoretical physicist is too in depth for what I'm looking for -- rather something closer to the applied, business physics.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  11. Dec 21, 2012 #10
    If you want to be vague, you're not going to get any good advice. Being vague = Nobody answers any of your questions.

    You are very confused. You appear to be mixing up two very different things.

    It sounds like you are misinterpreting the usual definition of "Mathematical Physics". A mathematical physicist does not act as a consultant to another physicist to make sure their math is OK. They do do research the mathematics used in physics. e.g. they research things like how you get solutions to particular differential equations that appear in physics. They don't provide "proof" of other people's research, they prove theorems in mathematics which is used in physics. Mathematical physicists basically try to discover new things about physics by studying the underlying mathematics.

    What it sounds like you want to be is a technical consultant. In this case you would be given technical work and tell the client whether or not it checks out. Generally you would be assisting people with less technical expertise than you, such as program managers (more business oriented engineers). If you worked as an independent consultant, you would mostly be assisting very small companies doing relatively uninteresting things, as most companies with more interesting things going on have a technical specialist of their own. Unless you are an expert on something highly specialized, you would not normally be a consultant to other highly technical individuals.

    You would normally be consulting engineers for an engineering project, not physicists doing research. Example: Some construction company is building a bridge. They send their specs to you and you check to see if the bridge is structurally sound.

    If you really want to do that kind of work, there are engineering consulting companies that you can work for. If you want to be an individual, you're going to need to be able to build up a high level of credibility for anyone to even consider hiring you.

    Bottom line: Anyone doing research is competent enough to run the math themselves (or have friends/colleagues who can) and have no reason whatsoever hire a consultant to do that work. Such consulting jobs don't exist.
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