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In order to buy time to 1) publish 2) study physics some more 3) make myself "indispensible", and able to serve the physics community (instead of just "sucking up" education like a sponge) by the time I apply to PhD programs in physics (e.g., I don't want to be in a "sponge-state", still, while applying to PhD programs!): I am considering studying mathematics at the same university I will get my physics M.S. in, as of 2011. My reasons:

1) I have a good relationship with my highly-intelligent advisor (he had a 1980 tenure at the Institute for Advanced Study...lucky to be working with him). I've learned a ton from him, and feel like I have much more to learn.

2) I know far less mathematics than I thought I did. I got through my math B.S. by plugging and chugging instead of appreciating the grand concepts. I want to re-visit math, and be trained to think mathematically.

3) I will have 2 additional years to publish stuff. I needed a year of physics courses (e.g., QM and E + M) to just be able to understand how to think like a physicist, and that took away 1 year's time in which I could have been doing research. I'm working furiously to catch up. I mean, I just found out from my advisor that 3a) using the Feynman rules for QED verses 3b) understanding the so-called "field theory" from where the Feynman rules come from (e.g., applied vs. theory/first principles) seem to be entirely-different beasts, and I then wondered if a new ocean's vast waters were lapping at my feet.

4) It's possible a math-M.S. will give me a bit of indispensibility that will make me stand out amidst other physicists. It could equip me to see mathematical structures behind a lot of physics-fields. I'm already enamoured with how all seem to be linear combinations in quantum mechanics. I am now curious about the mathematical structure of E + M ... where everything seems to be 1/r, symmetric/antisymmetric (just throwing out terms that seem pertinent...this is no expert's opinion).

5) I might delay my taking of the Physics GRE until I am more ready. I haven't even had a formal undergraduate Classical Mechanics class (but had a graduate course with this brilliant but stuck-in-his-non-Goldstein-ways mathematical physicist...in which I reaped a less-than-savoury B-).

But: reasons against:

1) It's possible that a physics department could call into question my commitment to physics when they see an M.S. in engineering, an M.S. in physics, and an M.S. in math. I am hoping that fear will be assuaged by my (second) M.S. in physics.

2) ??? stuff unseen?

I don't really consider time to be a factor. I'm single, don't see my family often, and don't mind spending as much time as a student as need be in order to at least have a fighting chance at being a theoretical physicist (a highly-competitive field).

Just let me know what I am not seeing, or failing to anticipate...