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Small Physicist Big Dreams

  1. Feb 4, 2009 #1
    Before I start, here's a summary of who I am. I'm a fourteen year old, living in Ireland, with a love of physics, maths and anything else of that nature. I dream of one day working for a big research company, and discovering amazing things that will shock the entire world. But, before I can do that, I need someone to bring me back down to Earth and tell me about what I can do with physics degree. And what I have to do to get that physics degree in the first place. So here are my 3 questions:

    What subjects do I need to get 100% in, in order to assure my spot in a university?
    What am I going to be doing in university?
    What can I then do with my physics degree?

    Thanks in advance for all your help. It's much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2009 #2


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    1) Science and Math
    2) ''
    3) A technical position.
  4. Feb 4, 2009 #3


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    If you really want to do research in physics the road is long, but it is rewarding if you really have a passion for it.

    At your stage of the game, just keep challenging yourself with all the science and math courses you can take. Do some extra reading on subjects that interest you (outside of school), and take up some hobbies that will naturally build technical skills.

    In order to do research in physics the most direct path is to study physics in university, then pursue graduate studies and earn a Ph.D. From there you can work in academia or find work with a private company.
  5. Feb 5, 2009 #4


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    Much as the others have said; i'll add : Being 14, you may or may not know this, but you never need to get 100% in a class in School, just the A (although striving for 100% does no harm). Generally a good University will ask for something along the lines of AAAB, or AAB from your highers - assuming the system in Ireland is similar to that in Scotland. So, AAAB, with two of those being Physics and Mathematics should all but guarantee entry to almost any University in the UK & Ireland (perhaps no Guarantee for Oxbridge, but still a good chance).

    Dont worry about your career at the moment though, use it as an inspiriation to do well in School. Most people consider School nothing short of a bother - and most of the time it is - but just remember that you are there for the grades you get, the School system is offering YOU free oppurtunities, and if you enjoy Maths/Physics, then getting good grades wont be a problem at all; 10 years from now you will be massively relieved that you actually left School with decent grades, it makes your life a whole lot easier.

    If you need to be grounded, consider that another 11 or 12 years will pass before you even have a shot at being a reasearcher. For now, just do whatever it is that you enjoy, dont run before you walk lest your passion gets broken from the fall.

    You could check some of the Universities websites and take a look at the Physics departments, they are often a good source of information and inspiration - as are their Prospectus'. Most Universities will have a form which you can fill out on their website, and they will send you a free glossy Prospectus which you can read through. That will give an overview of what grades you need, what you will be doing at University and what you can do once you leave University.

    One last thing : High-School Physics and Mathematics can seem boring compared to all the advanced and exciting stuff you can learn about later - but there is no chance of having the oppurtunity to explore all the exciting stuff unless you have perfected all the basics! The more comfortable you are with Maths, the easier Physics will appear. Working with fractions, surds, roots, linear graphs, understanding and re-arranging algebraic expressions/equations, trigonometry (especially that) etc - all that stuff you will be learning now and in the next couple of years, make sure you are good at it all and everything else will seem like a peice of cake. If your teachers arent explaining things well enough, make them explain, never be afraid to ask questions - those who ask questions are usually those who will do best.

    I'll buy you a Guinness when you graduate.
  6. Feb 6, 2009 #5
    Hey there, I had the same dreams when I was about your age, now I am in my A-levels and still wondering whether this path, the one rarely taken, should be taken.....

    ~life is nothing without dreams....~
  7. Feb 13, 2009 #6
    Though I am merely 9 years your senior I wish greatly I could be in your shoes. Then maybe I would be starting grad school instead of just beginning to take physics courses. The key thing I would remember is do well in school so you can get into a good program, hopefully on scholarship.

    Also, don't let the temptation of being a rebellious teen corrupt your dreams, this is what happened to me. I had a great interest in physics and the universe but once I hit 15-18 I became more interested in having fun, this continued into college. Once I flunked out of college it took me another few years to discover that everything I truly wanted in my life where in those dreams of my younger self. Follow your passion and don't let the world tell you what is possible and practical.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  8. Feb 13, 2009 #7
    The road is long, with many a winding turn... That leads on to who knows where, who knows where, but I'm strong...

    I wish I was 14 with that sort of attitude though, kudos to the OP, I didn't know what I wanted to do until I left college at 18 and even then I was lost.

    Physics, maths: pure and applied is a good start. But check out University entrance requirements, they can vary.

    Working like a bar steward, reading and studying all the information you can, if you can.

    Join the stock market, conquer Everest or just study further, you'll need a masters or post doctorate I think to get into research.

    Good advice, a friend of mine was predicted to fail maths at A' level because he just couldn't get his head round it, he ended up with a degree in physics; and he was never a poor mathematician. Because when he in doubt he asked questions continuously, and then set out to learn outside of his course with the advice he was given, while others more gifted coasted on their ability. He actually came top of his class in the exam. And now is a rather good mathematician if I say so.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
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