Path to Cosmology

  • #1
katatosh
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Hello all! I have been taking an academic break from school for certain mental health reasons that I won't waste your time talking about. Now, I am only a freshman in college. My school's physics department currently offers 2 majors: Physics and Physics/Astronomy. Obviously, I have lots of time to decide what I want to study in grad school, but I think Cosmology sounds the most interesting.

Which major should I pick? My instincts tell me to major in Physics/Astronomy, but a physicist I met told me they are both good ideas, but he said he would take just Physics.
I want your guys' opinion. Which should I take?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
mcastillo356
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Hi, @katatosh, which do you fancy? In my opinion, you have already chosen, just need a ... Nudge is the word?
 
  • #3
mcastillo356
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Hi again, @katatosh... Paternalistic is the word for me? Sorry, lost in translation, I'm spaniard.
 
  • #4
George Jones
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I would take the Physics major, but this is very subjective.
 
  • #5
katatosh
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Hi again, @katatosh... Paternalistic is the word for me? Sorry, lost in translation, I'm spaniard.
Hi, @katatosh, which do you fancy? In my opinion, you have already chosen, just need a ... Nudge is the word?
Thank you guys for the advice
 
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  • #6
jtbell
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Which major should I pick? My instincts tell me to major in Physics/Astronomy, but a physicist I met told me they are both good ideas, but he said he would take just Physics.
When do you need to officially declare a major?

My personal feeling is that you should try to keep as many future pathways open as long as possible, because you're still early in the game, so to speak. You probably haven't been exposed to enough physics to be able to decide on your final pathway yet.

What is the difference (in terms of courses) between the two majors? In a physics major, you generally have certain courses that are specifically required, and a certain number of elective courses that you can choose freely. Does your physics/astronomy major simply fill some of the elective courses with specifically-required astronomy courses? In that case, you'd probably have a good background for grad school regardless of what you end up studying there.

If the physics/astronomy major replaces some of the specifically-required physics courses with astronomy courses, then I might be more cautious about choosing it.

Traditionally, the core physics courses that grad schools look for have been upper-level courses in: classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics + statistical mechanics.

I went to a small college that offered only a generic physics degree. I thought I would go into low-temperature physics, and in fact worked with a low-temperature group in my first year of grad school. However, I ended up getting my PhD in experimental elementary particle physics (neutrinos, specifically).

So I would be wary of pigeonholing oneself too early!
 
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  • #7
Astronuc
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Which major should I pick? My instincts tell me to major in Physics/Astronomy, but a physicist I met told me they are both good ideas, but he said he would take just Physics.
I want your guys' opinion. Which should I take?
Does one wish to be a theoretician or experimentalist or both? Or instrumentalist?

One could look for overlap in Physics and Physics/Astronomy, and if one can handle the load maybe do Physics/Astronomy and most or all of the Physics curricula.

Are there engineering programs at one's school?
 
  • #8
dlgoff
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Are there engineering programs at one's school?
That's my question also, as my BS was in Engineering Physics. I took all my elective engineering courses in Electrical Engineering which really helped me with finding good jobs.
 
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  • #9
Astronuc
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Engineering Physics. I took all my elective engineering courses in Electrical Engineering
Yes, I was also thinking of Engineering Physics or Applied Physics, and I like to differentiate between experimentalist and instrumentalist, the latter being one who develops better instruments with which to measure things and perform experiments.
 
  • #10
dlgoff
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Yes, I was also thinking of Engineering Physics or Applied Physics, and I like to differentiate between experimentalist and instrumentalist, the latter being one who develops better instruments with which to measure things and perform experiments.
bold by me

When I was working with my universities Van de Graff particle (protons) accelerator our targets were first thin films of carbon over a hole on an aluminum slide. But the targets wouldn't last too long before being torn up by the beam. Since my father worked for DuPont, I was able to get some of their Kapton film which could handle the constant impact of the protons. I also used a TV deflection yoke and its horizontal oscillator to illuminate the target with a small raster. Later, I was asked to give a talk about this work (Trace element analysis by heavy ion induced X-ray fluorescence) at a district Student Physics Society meeting where I had slides showing various organic sample spectrums. Something I'll never forget.
 

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