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Nuclear Engineering (or electrical) and Physics

  1. Aug 5, 2013 #1
    i want to become the physicist behind nuclear engineering or electrical engineering
    i want to study how particles and electrons work , how the nucleus work , but still i dont want to become someone studying something that has nothing to do with reality or someone who just applies knowledge.
    i want to be someone who finds this knowledge , someone who makes theories that could be used in our world * like the atomic bomb for instance or the transistor *
    so what career is the best for me ? Phd in physics ? or phd in electrical or nuclear engineering ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2013 #2
    Someone who applies knowledge is usually an engineer.
  4. Aug 6, 2013 #3
    i dont want to apply knowledge , i want to find and build the knowledge that engineers apply , but i also want to find knowledge that can actually be used , not that sci fi stuff like string theory and the **** that michio kaku keeps talking about in his videos !
  5. Aug 6, 2013 #4
    There are many other options than theoretical physics. Most physicists are not.
  6. Aug 6, 2013 #5
    FYI the transistor was invented before the proper theories describing it were developed. They came later. It's quite remarkable that a lot of semiconductor theory has actually lagged behind industrial practice. So in some sense no one made the theories that made it possible. The physicists and engineers who made it possible were working without a net.

    For example, did you know that the electrical differences between p and n-type semiconductors were only appreciated when engineers and physicists were puzzled why some regions of a semiconductor wafer were better than others for building rectifying diodes? And did you know that people were building, using, and selling semiconductor rectifiers for decades before science fully understood the theory behind them, and what parameters (e.g. silicon purity, doping, etc) related to their performance? Fascinating. It was a field full of (sometimes wrong) intuition, old wive's tales, and momentum.

    My point is sometimes theory leads practice, and sometimes it follows.
  7. Aug 6, 2013 #6
    you still skipped my question , which is better ?
    a phd in physics or engineering ? if i want to be like , for instance isaac newton
    he studied physics majorly and laid out rules that are still used to this present day in our everyday world
    i am though more inclined to nuclear physics more than mechanical ones
  8. Aug 6, 2013 #7
    Isaac Newton would've been Isaac Newton no matter what he studied.

    Famous/genius academics didn't get there by asking how they can become famous or influential. They just did it because they had it in them. If there's an easy answer to "what should I study in order to become a great scientist" then great scientists wouldn't be so rare or held up to such high prestige.
  9. Aug 6, 2013 #8
    It sounds like you just want to be important, and are asking which career path is easier to become important. You should pick the career path that "calls" to you, and none of us can tell which that is. We can only tell you more about those paths so you can decide for yourself.
  10. Aug 7, 2013 #9
    you still got me wrong , i dont want to be isaac newton ,i dont want to be famous
    the reason i mentioned isaac is that he worked on the kind of physics that can be applied to our world , that our world could benefit from
    i dont want to end up working on black holes and cosmic radiation , predicting the end of the universe that we might not be even able to witness as human beings * not that i dont want to know about that * , but i want to do research on the more practical world , decay of elements , using them in fission and fusion , studying electrons and how they interact , how we can improve nuclear energy and so on
  11. Aug 7, 2013 #10
    You'll want to study physics instead of engineering for sure then. EE does not go into the nuclear domain at all I believe, but they might have an energy domain. There is the nuclear engineering program, but my impression of them is that, beyond the fundamentals, they deal more with ME stuff, like heat transfer and pressure buildup. In a physics program you'll be able to go beyond the fundamentals into the nitty gritty details.
  12. Aug 7, 2013 #11
    finally a comment with something related to what i say , thats exactly what i wanted to know , so if i go for physics will i be able to study nuclear energy and things like that ?
    a friend of mine told me that engineering is just about applying , and even having a phd and doing research is going to be in finding better ways to apply knowledge postulated by physicists
  13. Aug 7, 2013 #12
    It's obvious you want to study physics, just be prepared to have a phd before you ever begin thinking of a job or you could major in physics and then go to graduate school for nuclear engineering. How can you reasonably expect to build anything useful if you don't understand how to apply knowledge which is engineering
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