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Latest Theoretical predictions to help guide my career choices

  1. Oct 26, 2017 #1
    Hello! I would like to follow a career in theoretical physics (mainly high energy). Can someone point me towards the most important theoretical predictions made in the last 50 years (basically after the QCD period, W, Z and Higgs predictions) that have been experimentally tested. By this I mean actual new theories, not corrections to old ones or new methods of computations (like Lattice QCD) and also not things like supersymmetry, string theory or Hawking radiations which (as far as I know) have not been experimentally confirmed yet. I just want to know how much did science progressed theoretically lately and I am not really aware of all new theories that came up (I should work more on that...) so I would really appreciate if someone can point me towards them so I can further investigate. Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I think you summed up most the ones a layman would know. I can't think of any other "new theory" predictions that have been experimentally verified other than the gravity theories destroyed by the recent neutron star collision gravitational wave detection.


    or the recent higgs boson and quantum computing news item:

  4. Oct 26, 2017 #3
    Yeah, this is what I am kinda afraid of. I want to go into theoretical physics, but based on the evolution in the recent years, I am not sure what to expect. Like, realistically, what chances does someone have to come up with something new? I understand this is how things work in theory, you make mathematical models and most of them are wrong and this is fine. But based on the latest news from experimental fields (for example CERN will have an upgrade in 2024, which will increase luminosity and maybe the energy, but not by an astonishing value), predictions at high energy (and I am not talking about plank scale, even much lower than that) will be impossible to be tested. So if nothing new lies up to those energies, it means that no real breakthrough will be made in the next 50 (?) years. Am I missing something?
  5. Oct 26, 2017 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Your fear is true but if no one tries then progress will be slower. Think of the history before Einstein's miracle year. Folks believed that all of physics had been discovered but the remaining few questions spawned QM, SR and GR. So i'd say don't let your fear direct your life. But what do I know I'm a robot.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  6. Oct 28, 2017 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I am going to disagree and say, yes, let fear direct your life.

    If you want to go into physics because you want to make a once- (maybe twice) per-century discovery, you shouldn't. The vast majority of people in it do not make a once-per-century discovery because they come along about, well, once per century. You will be unhappy. You should go into it only if you will be satisfied by chipping away at some little problem that nobody ever heard of - because that's what scientists do.
  7. Nov 8, 2017 #6
    I like this sentence, almost as if the words were directed at me. I am somewhat guilty of this - a romantic notion still somewhere in the back of my head, that I might be the one to stumble upon "a motherlode".

    To avoid disappointment, I keep telling myself that there is also the teaching aspect of it - imparting your vast knowledge upon future generations, which can be quite gratifying. Also, reading about the discoveries of others. As Einstein once said, today might also be "marvelous time to be alive".

    (Sorry, gone a bit on a tangent there.)
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