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Software engineer turned physicist

  1. Aug 4, 2009 #1
    hey everyone,

    ok, so right now I just finished my 2nd year of university. I'm studying to be a software engineer at the moment. When I first started my studies, I hated physics because I had a terrible physics teacher in high school. Taking his class led me to believe that I was not nearly smart enough to ever study physics. However, the concepts in physics (especially things like black holes, string theory, etc.) have always fascinated me. Now, after my first two years, I've gained more confidence in my abilities and intelligence, and I believe I have the ability to actually study it. So my questions are:

    1) As a 20-year-old software engineering student, is it still possible for me to become a physicist?
    2) Would having formal training in software engineering give me an advantage over those who only studied physics?
    3) I already have a full schedule for the upcoming fall term, are there any free online resources where I could study physics on my own?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2009 #2


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    Chromium wonders:
    1. 20 years of age is still very young. You have time to change major fields.

    2. Courses you have studied so far may or may not become an advantage for you; having studied them and gained some skills from them at least eliminates disadvantages of being deficient in programming, critical thinking, and some other technical skills. In fact, what you have done could become a very strong advantage.

    3. For other members to answer.
  4. Aug 4, 2009 #3
    1) 20 is plenty young to switch

    2) If you have some C it could come in handy. Besides that, not a lot. It all depends on what you study.

    3) Not any good ones that I know of. How about the library? Physics texts really haven't changed much in a long time; they should have some old copies around that could help you prepare. Semi off-topic, but while in grad school the phys department had a little library of old text books. I found one from the 1890's. Glancing through it, the curriculum for intro physics hasn't really changed much since (though newer texts do a better job).

    By the way, as I usually point out, liking black holes and string theory doesn't have much to do with actually liking doing physics. Spend some time with some grad students and make sure you actually like the kinds of things they do.
  5. Aug 5, 2009 #4
    Regarding #3:

    MIT maintains a website called OpenCourseWare ( http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/index.htm ) that contains all the resources for their classes. Pick up where your physics training has left off (I assume you have taken the 2 standard intro semesters of Physics) or start from the beginning.
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