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Should i be fretting?

  1. Jun 26, 2007 #1
    if i want to be a theorist, and not the phenomenologist kind either, but the other kind ( my advisor said modeling theorist, someone who invents the models ). should i be playing the whole bolstering my CV game that everyone played in highschool, in an attempt to get into ivys? if i just do well in all of my classes and do research with someone in the field is that enough? in zapper's writeup about what it takes to be a physicist he says that in theory success partly comes from pedigree and this makes me fret.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2007 #2
    Given the huge number of very good theorists coming out of China that you'll be directly competing with, I'd be fretting in your shoes. It has been my experience that the supply for theorists outstrips demand - and I mean by more than the average supply already outstrips demand in the academic world. This could definitely promote the cliquishness you are worried about.

    However, there is something that deserves clarification. Everyone talks about theory as if it were one area. It isn't - the predicaments of theorists in condensed matter and high energy physics are different, as are many of the skills they use. This goes for theorists in other areas of physics as well.

    What do you actually plan on studying?
  4. Jun 27, 2007 #3
    what every other aspiring theorists plans on studying :tongue2: GUTs
  5. Jun 27, 2007 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    And this is a long-standing situation. It was definitely like this when I was in grad school about 25 years ago. Anyone planning to do a PhD in theoretical physics should have a "Plan B."
  6. Jun 30, 2007 #5
    Or do what I am doing and attempt to approach fundamental physics through optics. There is plenty of work available for an arbitrary mix of theory and application at any given skill level. It is easy to get an experimental RA position in optics even as an undergrad, and you can smoothly transition to theoretical physics from there. This may not be the quickest way to get money thrown at you to try unifying physics, but it is certainly more doable.
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