PhD in theoretical physics and a PhD in Pure Maths at an old age

  • #1
billtodd
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I am approaching an old age of 40, and now pursuing an MSc in Engineering without a thesis nor project.
Before that I pursued MScs in Physics and Maths, but never finished writing my theses.
I have a sort of perturbed attitude towards both Maths and Physics, I mean something really pure in maths can interest me like Mathematical Logic or Philosophical Logic (like Modal Logic), but then again I also like in my BSc studies a lot PDEs and ODEs.

Is there any chance of getting two such PhDs in Cambridge University from both DAMTP and DPMMS even though never have I finished writing my MSc theses in maths and physics in my University.
I am contemplating giving another chance to an MSc in Maths from Hebrew University after hopefully graduating from Engineering.

Wait someone once said in PF that for getting PhD you don't need to actually be based at the university, you can do everything remotely... perhaps even the defense of the theses... :oldbiggrin:
 
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  • #2
You have demonstrated NO ability for research. Why do you think that you would have a chance of being admitted to even a single program?
 
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  • #3
billtodd said:
but never finished writing my theses.
This will be a big black mark. The committee will start from the position you won't finish this time either. That means you'll be taking the seat of someone who is far more likely to finish..

Why should they select you and not her? You need a very, very good answer to that question.
 
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  • #4
Vanadium 50 said:
This will be a big black mark. The committee will start from the position you won't finish this time either. That means you'll be taking the seat of someone who is far more likely to finish..

Why should they select you and not her? You need a very, very good answer to that question.
I read somewhere of a politician (from USA), who finished writing his thesis in mathematics, but all his results in his dissertation were wrong.(can't remember his name).

My problem is not of researching, my problem is interacting with advisers.
You know there are a lot of politics also in academia.

And as the saying goes about research:"If we knew what the heck we are doing then it wouldn't be called research, now would it?".
:cool:
 
  • #5
billtodd said:
I read somewhere of a politician (from USA), who finished writing his thesis in mathematics, but all his results in his dissertation were wrong.(can't remember his name).

My problem is not of researching, my problem is interacting with advisers.
You know there are a lot of politics also in academia.

And as the saying goes about research:"If we knew what the heck we are doing then it wouldn't be called research, now would it?".
:cool:
A lot of platitudes here. Critical self reflection will serve you better.
 
  • #6
billtodd said:
I read somewhere
A popular source, to be sure. :smile:
billtodd said:
ou know there are a lot of politics also in academia.
Sorry...but so what?

You are asking to take the seat of someone else. Admissions are competitive. Last time, you failed to complete the program. If your position is "My university was unfair, and I need a second chance!" the committee will jump to two conclusions: "Why is it our responsibility to fix this? Further, how is this fair to the student who we reject to give @billtodd a seat?" and "If he's bellyaching about where he came from, when he does the same thing here, he'll just be complaining about us." Neither will help your cause.

You need to come up with an affirmative reason why you should be accepted over another candidate. That needs to be clearly articulated in your application. If you can't do it here, how can you do it there?
 
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  • #7
billtodd said:
Is there any chance of getting two such PhDs in Cambridge University from both DAMTP and DPMMS even though never have I finished writing my MSc theses in maths and physics in my University.
I am contemplating giving another chance to an MSc in Maths from Hebrew University after hopefully graduating from Engineering.
I'm not sure what the point of getting two PhDs would be. Once you've learned the skills you need to conduct research independently, you'd likely be wasting a lot of time (yours and that of others) by enrolling to do it all over again in a related field.

If you really want to pursue a PhD, your best best is likely to finish your current MSc and do as well as you can in it. Having enrolled in and not completed first a physics/math MSc, and then an engineering MSc is not going to make you competitive for a PhD in a tangential field. Once you've completed your current program, you'll also need to figure out what's going to make you competitive for this new field. What advanced courses will the admissions committee be looking to ensure you've taken at the undergraduate or master's level?

billtodd said:
Wait someone once said in PF that for getting PhD you don't need to actually be based at the university, you can do everything remotely... perhaps even the defense of the theses...
Well, the pandemic showed us that remote working is often feasible, but it's certainly not for everyone, and it comes with a lot of challenges. With graduate studies, remote work comes with a high risk of isolation... from your supervisor, committee members, other researchers and other students. You can miss out on potential for collaborations, socialization, and networking.

billtodd said:
My problem is not of researching, my problem is interacting with advisers.
You know there are a lot of politics also in academia.
This is not an issue confined to academia. Interacting effectively with others is a necessary skill set in just about every field.

What can help though, is spending time to identify a supervisor whose you are going to jive with before signing on. Often friction develops when students make decisions exclusively on the research topic and don't bother to figure out whether the supervisor is a good fit for them. Establish clear expectations about the project, identify milestones, what meetings will look like, what working hours are expected, what your other obligations will be (teaching assistant work, marking, commitments outside of your program), etc. and that can go a long way to help avoid friction later on.
 
  • #8
billtodd said:
My problem is not of researching, my problem is interacting with advisers.
I'd say you need to solve this problem before you get an advisor.
 
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  • #9
martinbn said:
I'd say you need to solve this problem before you get an advisor.
I agree, this is why I have opt doing an MSc without a thesis/project component in Engineering.
But I'll keep reading advanced books in maths and physics.
Sometimes I had ideas that the advisers (I replaced quite a few advisers in my span in maths msc) didn't have.

I can recall my last adviser telling me if I have more ideas like the one I got. (it was a sort of change of variables that I suggested after reading some book).

And after finishing reading HyperSpace of Michio Kaku last year I gather there's always this tension between the student and his adviser/s, who has more skills.
And I had taken quite a lot of courses and read and solved quite a lot of problems.

You know I was the student who was correcting the lecturers almost all the time, since high school.
And most of the time my correction was legitimate, just once in a course in GR I got the plus/minus issue wrong.
 
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  • #10
Choppy said:
identify a supervisor whose you are going to jive with
There's an unfortunate typo. Just one letter away....

"Jive with" is something else.

 
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  • #11
billtodd said:
You know I was the student who was correcting the lecturers almost all the time, since high school.
Golly.

Whatever the truth of the matter is "I failed to earn my MS in physics because I was just too gosh-darn smart for my school" is not going to be a winning strategy to get admitted to a PhD program.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50 said:
Golly.

Whatever the truth of the matter is "I failed to earn my MS in physics because I was just too gosh-darn smart for my school" is not going to be a winning strategy to get admitted to a PhD program.
No, I didn't say this.

But when one student in QFT2 asks me what to do to practice for the final exam, and I am telling him read and solve Peskin Schroeder back to back.
🙃

I got 100/105 in QFT1.

Man those theoretical physicists know how to crank it up with those equations... I remember reading the book by Diego Problems on Statistical Mechanics.

And trying to follow the pages on pages of Diego's excellent problem book.
When I excelled in the courses (not always) it's a sheer memory effect.

I have one unfinished work which I published in Researchgate, I really should revisit it.

BTW anyone knows who is right here?:
https://math.stackexchange.com/ques...an-infinite-limit-involving-a-double-integral
 
  • #13
Having PF get embroiled in a dispute on some other site seems not like the best use of our time. Wouldn't it be better to do other things, like participating here?
 
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  • #14
billtodd said:
I read somewhere of a politician (from USA), who finished writing his thesis in mathematics, but all his results in his dissertation were wrong.(can't remember his name).

My problem is not of researching, my problem is interacting with advisers.
You know there are a lot of politics also in academia.

And as the saying goes about research:"If we knew what the heck we are doing then it wouldn't be called research, now would it?".
:cool:
I don't doubt you, disagree with you about the politics. But they're still around. Have you learnt better ways of navigating them?
Re the theses. Will you be seeking to finish those you started? If so, review them , find a prof. interested in them, maybe they'll rally around you.
 
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  • #15
I think you still need an answer to "Why you?" Why not take Mary, who just graduated from a strong institution, a 3.8 GPA, good test scores and excellent letters. Grad school admissions are competitive. How do you plan on out-competing her?

You say you have published on ResearchGate. No, you posted on ResearchGate. RG is not a journal. (And Mary may well be a co-author on a paper that has been published in an actual journal) Worse, if there are any issues with it, the committee will conclude "couldn't get it into a real journal". Worse still, is that if it has even a whiff of crackpottery about it - and this might be as minor as a topic that tends to attract cranks - the committee may well just go on to the next application.

You also have a problem with your track record with no obvious ways around. If you don't finish your MS, it says "failed at that too". If you do, it cries out "perpetual student". Especially since you say you want not one by two PhDs. (Why?)

You need a good reason for the college to accept you, andc thus far the ones suggested have been weak or even negative. You need to work on this if you want your application to have any hope of success.
 
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  • #16
Vanadium 50 said:
You need to come up with an affirmative reason why you should be accepted over another candidate. That needs to be clearly articulated in your application. If you can't do it here, how can you do it there?

Vanadium 50 said:
You need a good reason for the college to accept you, andc thus far the ones suggested have been weak or even negative. You need to work on this if you want your application to have any hope of success.

Actually, before coming up with good reasons why admissions committees should accept you, @billtodd, you should elucidate the reasons why you want to pursue two PhDs (or even one PhD). Is it strictly for intellectual satisfaction? Is it one step along a career path? What is the end goal?
 
  • #17
billtodd said:
No, I didn't say this.

But when one student in QFT2 asks me what to do to practice for the final exam, and I am telling him read and solve Peskin Schroeder back to back.
🙃

I got 100/105 in QFT1.

Man those theoretical physicists know how to crank it up with those equations... I remember reading the book by Diego Problems on Statistical Mechanics.

And trying to follow the pages on pages of Diego's excellent problem book.
When I excelled in the courses (not always) it's a sheer memory effect.

I have one unfinished work which I published in Researchgate, I really should revisit it.

BTW anyone knows who is right here?:
https://math.stackexchange.com/ques...an-infinite-limit-involving-a-double-integral
No one cares! Before embarking on further education endeavors, you may want to learn a bit of humility. You have no proven track record, so stop with the false bravado...
 
  • #18
Just to add: in my experience good students are not good researchers per se. Getting good marks on exams is a different skill than doing independent research. And the question is whether you're using the politics merely as an excuse.
 

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