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Physics undergraduate, should I change to Maths?

  1. Dec 3, 2012 #1
    I'm studying Physics but I constantly wonder if I should be in Maths?
    Roughly I only explore math questions/problems. Most of the times I think of physical problems they look like an overwhelming mess which I can hardly address.
    What I enjoy the most is finding truths, not just "historic" or "specific cases", but theorems or "axiomatic like truths", the fundamentals of something.
    Even though I have a bunch of topics in mind for research in maths, I don't see my ideal self in maths. But I have basically no ideas for to research in Physics.
    What I'd really like would be something as near as possible of (mathy) Theoretical Physics. Or is this is a somewhat genius restricted area?
    What should I be expecting if I pursue a Masters or PhD, in Maths or Physics? (options, type of work or any other info)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2012 #2
    You could always do math but specialize in mathematical physics.
  4. Dec 3, 2012 #3
    You're making things awfully difficult for yourself (I'm not trying to put you down by saying this, I would have said the same thing about myself).

    You got to realize that (unless you're very lucky) there is no ideal topic of research. In research, you will always have to do things that you don't like. There is a truth to the saying that researchers have to be masochists.

    You say you enjoy math more than physics. Then why don't you want to go into math?? Could you expand a bit on this?

    Seriously, if you spend your free time solving math questions and thinking about math, then I'm pretty sure you should go to math grad school. You have to do research in something you enjoy extremely much. Why? Because research tends to be quite difficult and if you go into the wrong field, then you are going to go through hell in grad school and chances will be large that you'll quit. Even if you're going into the field you love, it will still be hard.

    So, if you don't explore physics in your free time, then I take that as a pretty big indication that you don't really like physics all that much. And this should be a big red flag not to go into physics.

    Again: do not expect or focus on the ideal situation. Things will not end up to be ideal.

    Please don't take my post as an attack. This post is something that I would have wanted to hear before going into grad school (although I probably wouldn't have listened to myself :tongue2: )
  5. Dec 3, 2012 #4
    I tend to stay on math because I find it easier to explore and find new things, but exploring new ground in physics is so damn hard. But the "truths/theorems" that come out of physics tend to be amazingly beautiful. Except I obviously don't expect to be a Maxwell or Einstein.
    Basically I'm wondering if there's deep/(non measure based) theoretical work that I can realistically expect to be part of.
    Math>Mathematical Physics may be a very interesting option though.

    PS:I do explore physics, but through others (eg: lectures, documentaries), not so often through myself.
  6. Dec 3, 2012 #5
    I'm sure that there are things in mathematical physics that you can do. You don't need to be a genius in order to do mathematical physics! However, physics is quite competitive. And I guess that mathematical physics is even more so. But once you actually get a place, I'm sure that it's not much harder to make meaningful contribution than in mathematics.
  7. Dec 4, 2012 #6
    you like math so do math.
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