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Physics educational plans for the 21st century

  1. Jun 22, 2014 #1
    I'm 17 years old and recently graduated high school. Physics has always been a deep interest of mine, not only because of the interesting questions they ask and answer, but because of the values and skills it's taught me (improving my communication skills by asking the right questions and phrasing it in logical terms; embracing change of perspectives; patience and grit; scouring every resource at my disposal to get my questions answered etc. etc.). I like the attitude of physicists towards their personal lives and social issues as well. Furthermore, I do believe that breakthroughs in physics research are what advances our civilization, as history has demonstrated.
    Hence, I've decided to pursue a career in physics. The science.

    What I want to do is research. Like any aspiring scientist, ultimately what I want is to be able to discover something that's never been realized before. Also, I am aware that scientific discoveries are a result of collaborative efforts, so I understand that I can enable that from various positions. I want a position wherein I can at least understand the theory being tested and not necessarily one where I directly contribute to theory itself (I'm not sure if I have the mathematical interest of capabilities, but I keep that option open).

    Now, I understand that physics is an immensely broad field and there are many areas of research. Of course, my research choice should be based on what interests me the most, but I'm generally fascinated by everything and my interest only grows as I delve deeper and deeper into something. So, at this point, I want to know what field I should develop my interest in. Once I develop interest, I'll put in work to understand it and hopefully make myself capable of contributing to it.

    I've read biographies of Feynman, Einstein, Marie Curie etc. and they're what sparked my interest. But, they lived in the last century. I'm sure that we have more tools at our disposal today to answer more questions in physics and other related fields. So, I hope to tailor my education based on what the future of physics demands.

    The following are what I seek in my future education.
    1. An education plan that will enable me to work for the latest and promising fields of physics research.
    2. An education plan that will provide me with enough skills to get a decent job, in case I discover that physics research is not my thing or if I'm having trouble landing a job in it. (A back-up, basically).

    Again, I can only do that if I know what areas of physics are the most demanding in the present or future 21st century. A more specific question might be this: what skills are required by physicists in the 21st century to solve present problems? A deeper question would be: what skills must physicists possess in the 21st century to RAISE 21st century physics QUESTIONS?

    I've been considering the following joint majors or major/minors:
    1. physics and computer science
    2. physics and mathematics
    3. physics and engineering (EE, nano etc.)

    I hope to apply to Canadian universities like Waterloo, Toronto, McGill and UBC. (My dream is MIT, but not up to it right now. Grad school, maybe.)

    Can anyone brief me on what fields of research each of those college plans can land me?
    And if there are other major/minor or joint-major plans that I haven't considered, do let me know.

    A response would be highly highly appreciated.
    Thank you.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2014 #2
    In your place, I would consider to do a joint Applied Mathematics and Physics degree if there are such options.
     
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