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Need career guidance in cosmology

  1. Aug 5, 2010 #1
    Hi All,

    I am a computer science engineering graduate , currently working in software company. I am very much interested in cosmology since my childhood. I tried putting off my urge to choose cosmology as my career for a very long time. But I can't do that anymore. So can anyone suggest me some good university where I can learn about cosmology and also which course/ programme would be better at this stage?

    Eagerly waiting for response.

    Thanks,
    Deeksha
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2010 #2

    Chalnoth

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    Well, coming from a computer science background as opposed to a physics background may make things a little difficult, but definitely not impossible. I can see two sorts of ways to get into this:

    1. Directly attempt to attach yourself to a current cosmology research project, observatory, or other institution that does this sort of work as a software engineer. You won't actually be doing cosmology, but you'll at least be peripherally involved in the enterprise.
    2. Make your way into graduate school as a physics major, and choose cosmology as your topic.

    Option 1) may be reasonable, but I'm not entirely certain how to go about it. Option 2), however, I may be able to help on. In order to get into graduate school, the very first thing I would do is to start talking to some members of the department of a graduate school that teach cosmology. They will know, better than anybody else, exactly what sorts of things you would need to attend. Having a BS in computer science may make it difficult, but I don't think it will make it impossible.

    One thing I'm pretty sure that most any graduate school will require, however, is decent scores on the GRE (graduate record examination). The GRE is split into two areas: general and subject. The general GRE is more or less your run-of-the-mill standardized test, and should be relatively easy to pass if you previously had little problem with the SAT/ACT. Most physics departments won't care a whole heck of a lot that you do terribly well in the general GRE, but I imagine they'll expect a significantly above-average score, so prepare yourself accordingly.

    The subject GRE for physics, though, is where you'd really need to focus your time and effort. Passing this GRE really requires a good general knowledge of physics, which is usually obtained from obtaining a BS with a major in physics. Lacking that major will make it a bit difficult, and likely means a lot of studying on your part. Look for example tests. Figure out what sort of score you need to get to make it into a decent institution. Then do the example tests and see how much you need to study to ensure you'll do better than that score.

    As far as the particular institute is concerned, some good ones are Chicago, Berkeley, Cal Tech. I myself went to UC Davis, and it has a very good cosmology department. But really there are a lot of other good schools out there, and I just don't know enough about the field to say which would be the best for you. So it's best just to try to start talking to professors at one or more such institutes to start to get a feel for what is required and what sort of applicant they'll accept.
     
  4. Aug 6, 2010 #3
    Hi,

    Thanks Chalnoth for sharing this valuable info. I am not sure which option to choose among the ones that you specified. I am from India and I have B. Tech (Computer Science) degree from national institute of technology (from India). I read physics during my school days and in college also. So, I know the basics of physics . Don't know how to proceed . Can you suggest something?

    Waiting for response.

    Thanks,
    Deeksha
     
  5. Aug 6, 2010 #4

    Chalnoth

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    The absolute best place to start would be the physics department of the closest university to you. They can give you far better direction than I ever could.

    As for the GRE, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDUQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ets.org%2FMedia%2FTests%2FGRE%2Fpdf%2FPhysics.pdf&ei=w7hbTOTmG5-isQbw3MysAQ&usg=AFQjCNGkcRyReeYdn-PokmBTjHBUv34zQw [Broken].

    To get a good score, you should be able to answer around half of those questions correctly (caveat: different schools will have different requirements). The time limit is 170 minutes.

    Looking through the practice test, and comparing your answers against the answer key, should give you a fair idea of what areas you need to brush up on. You should expect that it will take months of preparation to do well on this test.

    P.S. One good way to know whether or not you're starting to get the hang of it is that when you are becoming sufficiently competent, you should be able to know before looking at the answer key whether or not you have the answer. If you find you have a poor time judging whether or not you are right, then you need more study.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Aug 6, 2010 #5
    Hi,

    Education in India is nothing like that in US and plus ...not many opportunities are there. So I think GRE would be better option.

    Thanks for sharing the pdf!

    I will work on it.

    Thanks,
    Deeksha
     
  7. Aug 6, 2010 #6

    Chalnoth

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    Good luck! Tackling this from outside the field of physics is definitely not an easy path. But it certainly can be done with sufficient dedication!
     
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