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Question from a noob to the forum regarding current research in Physics

  1. Aug 8, 2006 #1
    Hey all,

    I would just like some opinion as to which fields of physics are currently looking to be the hottest ones for research and intellectual discovery for the next few decades. Obviously no one can predict for certain, but I would like some thoughts on where the next major advances in Physics knowledge, potentially revolutionary breakthroughs, might occur. I was thinking string theory, particle physics, cosmology, all those theoretical subjects that tie around the unification of forces, the potential TOE, etc... may be the hot spots, but they don't seem like they are going to be very empirically verifiable any time soon.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2006 #2


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    Nanotech looks promising.
  4. Aug 8, 2006 #3
    We're hoping to discover gravitational waves any moment now (LIGO, LISA, etc), and if successful there will be a whole new field "gravitational wave astronomy" to complement general relativity theory.

    Similarly, if the ITER facility proves successful, then there will be a huge demand to start building fusion powerplants.

    Physics is driven by experiment, so I expect the big advances will usually occur wherever there exists previously unattainable data.
  5. Aug 8, 2006 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Can you please post a link for more info? My intro into fusion physics about a decade ago was pretty discouraging. Especially the part about still needing to handle the radioactive waste. It would be cool if they've figured out how to ignite and sustain the most benign reaction.:!!)
  6. Aug 9, 2006 #5
    Okay, sorry to do this, but I think I've kind of narrowed down my question a bit more, so I'd appreciate if people would address this recently altered request:

    I am not questioning so much what is major in applied physics. That stuff, nanotech, quantum dots, computers, etc... is very nice, but I'm more interested in pure physics, not its applications.

    So what theoretical ideas about pure basic research physics seem like they are capable of getting huge opportunity for experimental verification and support? Like, the gravitational waves was an example of a theoretical topic (curvatures of space time, gravity energy waves) that is on the verge of a revolution in experimental evidence to support it and solidify it.

    What other topics in pure basic research of physics are there like that, poised and ready to be verified with experiment over the next few decades?
  7. Aug 9, 2006 #6


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    Well the homepage should be sufficient. http://www.iter.org/
    ITER is a European collaboration to make a fusion power plant and try to get ahead of the US. Well, maybe they're already ahead regarding more purely-physics stuff like this. Blast!! SSC!!!! :grumpy:
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