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Research Paper Topic for a Student

  1. Feb 23, 2010 #1
    Hey guys, I'm completely new to these forums, but I'm hoping someone here can help me out. I'm a Junior in high school, and I basically need some help with the 7 page research paper I'll have to write.

    I love physics in general, mostly quantum physics, particle physics, theories of relativity, and astrophysics, and although I've never taken any classes on my subject, I've read plenty of books on my own. Now that I have to choose a topic to write about, I thought that of course I should go straight to the topic that I love most, but there's an issue: for this project, you can't just pick something and spew out data and facts as the project, you have to pick something with two sides, and debate your viewpoint. While I could definitely spew out facts and information, I can't seem to think of a debatable argument to make (and specifically, one with enough resources to be able to fill 7 pages on it). I'm posting in the 'Astrophysics' part of the forum, because I think I'm most into astrophysics (you know, like all that mysterious stuff in the universe such as black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and the such) although I'm willing to widen my topic search if someone's got a different idea.

    I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone can give me some ideas, or at least point me in the right direction.

    Thanks in advance, guys!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2010 #2


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    Some ideas off the top of my head:

    -"Is string theory good science?"

    -"What is the correct interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?"

    -"Does dark matter exist, or do we need a new theory of gravity?" (This has got a lot more one-sided lately, but I'm sure you could still say a lot)

    -The anthropic principle
  4. Mar 1, 2010 #3
    Ah, thanks a lot for the ideas (and sorry it took me so long to come back and thank you).

    I like the, "Does dark matter exist" topic, and at this point I've narrowed it down to a couple topics: I'm thinking either the existence of dark matter (and dark energy), or the existence of further dimensions beyond our 3 perceivable ones. Both seem like very interesting subjects, and I found plenty of resources for each (most of which relate to both topics), but I'll have to choose one to focus on.

    If you're knowledgeable on the subjects, could you give me some insight as to which is a broader topic, that I could write more and elaborate more about?

    EDIT: Also, I'm considering as a third possibility researching antimatter, so it would be nice if someone could help me choose between that and the rest, as well. Thanks!
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  5. Mar 1, 2010 #4


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    In the interest of writing a paper about well established science, I'd definitely recommend DM/DE over the extra dimensions. The extra dimensions require a whole bunch of mathematics and physics to even understand, where as DM/DE are comparatively much simpler concepts (DM can be understood in terms of newtonian gravity, for example). Plus there's not much really to say at an introductory level about extra dimensions at this point. Perhaps in the future one could describe experiments to detect them that seem plausible, but I don't think these exist at the moment.

    Hrm. From my perspective as a physics student antimatter is... not really a research topic. It's roughly equivalent to writing a paper on matter (what would you say?). Of course, the general public tends to see it as something extremely exotic and baffling (antimatter has antimass, which produces white holes, right?), but it's really not.

    DM/DE is definitely a great topic though, because with DE you can research cosmology as well. Recommend that for sure.
  6. Mar 2, 2010 #5
    Ah that's true, DM makes a lot more sense to write about in this case. I think the only reason I threw antimatter in there is because reading through several articles (most of which involved all of these topics), I thought antimatter sounded interesting, but now that I think about it, you're right, I'd probably just end up saying what it is, and then it's just... now what?

    Dark matter/dark energy it is then, thanks for the help! I think I can find research sources, but if you know off the top of your head a great one that I should look into, that would be appreciated as well. If not, thanks anyways, you helped me with what I needed!
  7. Mar 6, 2010 #6


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    I would focus on one or the other, if I were you: there's plenty to write about each of these topics.
  8. Mar 6, 2010 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    I understand you are in high school, but is anyone else concerned that this 'scientific research paper' simply involves debating contrasting opinions? That's about as far from the scientific approach as possible. See, for example: 'debates' about evolution.
  9. Mar 6, 2010 #8
    Thanks cristo, that's a good point, so I'll probably narrow my focus down on dark energy.

    And yes Andy, I understand that, but the point of this is basically just to find a topic for my research paper. While down the road this sort of thing probably wouldn't work out so well as a scientific paper, all I'll be doing here is coming up with a thesis and using research to back it. For that, this will serve my purposes just fine, but thanks for your concern.
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