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Other Looking for ideas for new theory

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Dear All,
I am a second year Natural Sciences (the course incorporating the Physics courses) student at the University of Cambridge.

I definitely want to specialize in Theoretical Physics next year, but the years spent at University, and the time in the vacations between terms, seems so long.

I feel like I am missing out on something, that I haven't come up with anything original yet. I am not saying I am the smartest student in my year - this is most probably not true. But I WANT to uncover some secrets of the world we live in. Even if just small ones for the time being. I know it would be futile to attempt to unify gravity with the other three forces for a bachelor student. That is not the point. I am looking for something that I can realistically tackle and solve (mostly) by myself.

My question would be: is there any problem you could recommend me to think about? Something that might take weeks to figure out, but could realistically be the very first small secret I uncover, theory I create? I mean something that no one has ever described before me. (I googled "unsolved physics problems", but the suggestions on the internet are all extremely advanced).

I know that most of the 'cool' Physics stuff is in highly specialized fields, but even classical dynamics has only been here for a few centuries, surely not everything has been 'discovered'? As an example I could name Feynman, who came up with his theory of rotating discs in a café, or even his sprinkler. The idea could be as simple as these as long as there is no theoretical background for it yet, and is not entirely trivial (like something falling down in a vacuum), but also not extremely complicated (like something falling down in air - turbulence).


I would be very, very grateful for any suggestions you could give me in this matter.

Thanks :)
 

Choppy

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It sounds like you're looking for an undergraduate research project to me.

Perhaps the first thing to do would be to contact some of the professors at your school to see if they're looking for help. Often they have opportunities for undergrads to help on bigger projects.
 
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I was more thinking about a theoretical system to describe on my own, just in the evenings when I am bored.
 
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I will also contact one of my professors with this question when the exams are over, but was thinking that PF might help :)
 

Orodruin

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Something that might take weeks to figure out, but could realistically be the very first small secret I uncover, theory I create? I mean something that no one has ever described before me.
If there was anything like that that could be done in weeks by a bachelor student, it has either been done or is uninteresting. Most original work in physics represent months, if not years, of work and are not of the nature you describe. Rather they represent minor steps in figuring out what already existing theories predict or how they can be tweaked.

As an example I could name Feynman, who came up with his theory of rotating discs in a café
This is a serious misrepresentation of the Feynman story. It had more to do with how he got inspiration for elements of his Nobel prize winning work with quantum electrodynamics than with classical mechanics. Also, people like Feynman come along once in a generation at best.
 
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If there was anything like that that could be done in weeks by a bachelor student, it has either been done or is uninteresting. Most original work in physics represent months, if not years, of work and are not of the nature you describe. Rather they represent minor steps in figuring out what already existing theories predict or how they can be tweaked.
I must disagree. Not everything has already been done that's interesting for one, e.g Norton's dome was published quite recently (i.e. like 10-20 yrs ago). Secondly, whats interesting to me might not be interesting to you.

So if you could just give a few ideas, I would be quite pleased :)
 

Orodruin

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I must disagree. Not everything has already been done that's interesting for one, e.g Norton's dome was published quite recently (i.e. like 10-20 yrs ago). Secondly, whats interesting to me might not be interesting to you.

So if you could just give a few ideas, I would be quite pleased :)
I am sorry, but you seem oblivious to the fact that such things are not normal. Also, if I did have such ideas I would do them myself or give them to my students - not hand them out to strangers on the internet.

I believe your feeling that you are missing out because you have not published in your second year of university is fundamentally misguided and seems to me to be an indication of seriously overblown expectations. If you want to do anything to do with actual research, you should contact your professors who know what has been done and what is interesting in their fields.
 
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Also, if I did have such ideas I would do them myself or give them to my students - not hand them out to strangers on the internet.
Fair enough, nevertheless, thank you for your input :)

I believe your feeling that you are missing out because you have not published in your second year of university is fundamentally misguided and seems to me to be an indication of seriously overblown expectations.
I am not feeling this because I have not published anything, indeed any such thought would be rather very peculiar.
It would just be so nice to spend some hours trying to come up with something, then discuss it with others, and solve it in the end. NOT anything that is big science, I want to do that later on after an MSci maybe.
 

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