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Mastering both and experimental and theoretical physics

  1. Jul 14, 2012 #1

    R D

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    I was wondering can one master both experimental and theoretical physics in one particular field of physics?
    There are past examples like Enrico Fermi,Richard Feynman etc .
    I want to have the fun of both. Is it possible?
     
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  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2

    Danger

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    Welcome to PR, RD.
    My opinion might be coloured by the fact that I have a grade 9 math education and no high-school diploma, but I don't believe that it is possible for anyone, or even an entire civilization, to "master" any form of science. The best that can be done is to learn as much as possible and try to expand the field so that later generations can do even more so.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  4. Jul 15, 2012 #3

    R D

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    Very true, I agree with you completely.But i am asking whether one can have the 'priviledge' and 'fun' of learning both aspects of physics and learn about nature eventually?
     
  5. Jul 15, 2012 #4

    Drakkith

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    I don't see why not. Apply yourself and you can do just about anything you want.
     
  6. Jul 15, 2012 #5

    Danger

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    Agreed. In my day, it was referred to as being a "renaissance man". Sorry for misinterpreting the original question.
     
  7. Jul 15, 2012 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    What makes you think Feynman was a "master of experimental physics"?
     
  8. Jul 15, 2012 #7

    Drakkith

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    So you're saying you knew Leonardo personally? :biggrin:
     
  9. Jul 15, 2012 #8

    Danger

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    We did lunch a couple of times... :uhh:
     
  10. Jul 15, 2012 #9
    the modern theory is soooo far removed from experiment in its formalism that learning it will be useless 99% of the time.

    also, theorists don't need to know how to synthesize materials and wire circuits.
     
  11. Jul 15, 2012 #10
    It really depends on what you consider to be "mastering" a particular field. In my opinion, modern physics is so far developed that true expertise in a field of physics takes many many years (like twenty plus), so I don't think it is possible to become a true expert in both theoretical and experimental physics. Those are pretty broad categories anyway.

    It is definitely possible for you to have a good understanding of multiple fields. But I would advise trying to stretch yourself too thinly. The reasons are twofold:

    1. Science is about collaboration. If you want to be effective, become an expert in a field, and have a lot of friends who are experts in different but related fields. Then work together.

    2. Eventually if you want to be a physicist, you have to get a job. A hiring committee is much likely to give you a job if you say, "I'm a world expert in ____ and know some things about ____ and ____." They are unlikely to give you a job if you say, "I know a modest amount about everything."
     
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