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MSc project - Quantum liquids

  1. Jan 2, 2009 #1
    I am currently at university doing a masters in theoretical physics and time has almost come for me to decide on what Msc project i want to do during the summer.
    I had the idea of quantum liquids, which, one my lecturers also seemed interested in my idea.

    Now, my backround is mathematics, i have a degree in mathematics thus i have not been formally taught or had a course on fluid dynamics, thermal physics, statistical mechanics, etc (which i belive will be present in the mathematics of Quantum liquids).
    Though i am aware of the concepts and will be reading up on them soon, but do i have to be an 'expert' in them?

    I realised that the mathematical framework of the Quantum liquids will be non-relativistic field theory, and i have done a course in (relativistic) QFT.
    But my QFT course focused on the operator approach, not path integral approach. So what will be the best approach on Quantum liquids? My guess is that path integral approach will be more 'natural', but i would like to do both, if i can ofcourse.

    SOOO, as i do not have the necessary backround, i would like some advice, on what i should read up on, any books that anyone can recommend, ANYTHING.
    I am extremely interested in fluid dynamics and after reading some articles on superfluids, quantum vortices, etc. I am very excited in this project and will do whatever i can to prepare myself, but it does seem very daunting at the moment. WISH ME WELL!!!

    Also, my QFT course was an introductory, mathematical course (as my theoretical physics masters is run by the maths department), and so i will definately need to read up some more on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2009 #2
    Quantum liquids are studied by condensed matter folks, so you're largely right about the mathematical framework (including path integrals), but there's also a lot of other techniques at play, which go under the heading of "many body physics." I personally like the book by Fetter and Walecka.
  4. Jan 3, 2009 #3


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  5. Jan 3, 2009 #4

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    I think it's great to learn one new thing in considerable depth for a master's project. Learning many new things? Well, there are some pitfalls.

    The biggest risk I see is that you need to make sure that you have a master's sized project. Because you don't have the background to make that judgment yourself, you'll really depend on your advisor here. He or she will not only have to understand the project in detail, he needs to understand where you are at and how much time it will take you to get to speed.

    There are two pitfalls - one is starting a project and getting in the middle of it and discovering that it takes too long. The other is getting half-way through and discovering that the problem you set for yourself has already been trivially solved. The latter is usually less difficult to recover from, but both are best avoided. This is especially important in theory.

    So my advice is to pick your topic - and by extension your advisor - very, very carefully.
  6. Jan 3, 2009 #5
    Thank you SOOO much for that website! I will need that soon.
    Ok so it seems like i need some condensed matter physics, should i be reading up alot on this? Any other prerequisites recommended?
  7. Jan 3, 2009 #6
    Thank you very much for the advice. Indeed it could be a very big problem if i start then halfway something goes wrong. That is why i want to start early, within a month i want to finish the introduction.

    March is the deadline for choosing the project for us, even if something goes wrong i will be in a reasonable position to start again.

    If you also did a masters, how did you decide on what you wanted to do from the vast depth of possibilities?
  8. Jan 3, 2009 #7

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    I did a thesis for my bachelors and PhD, but took an examination in lieu of thesis for my masters. Life is easier for experimenters, but I did my bachelor's thesis in what would now be called computational physics but was then categorized as theory. The key was having an advisor who knew what had and had not been done, and spending many hours myself in the library reading journals, mostly removing topics as not fitting into my timeframe.
  9. Jan 3, 2009 #8
    Yes i have decided to take your advice on board and instead focus more heavily on the mathematical framework needed to develope a quantum theory for matter. Perhaps I can then do a short chapter on quantum liquids, that way i can still learn and apply some condensed matter physics.
    But i still would appreciate some more advice!
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