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Programs Studying Physics Courses at 50 years old

  • Thread starter jlcd
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From experience, up to what age can the brain and neurons still able to study physics? Steven Weinberg is already 80+ years old. Is his brain still as good as when he was in the 20s?

If I begin undergraduate course in physics at 50 yrs old. How long before I can graduate as a PhD?

I want to focus on Beyond the Standard Model. There is gold mine there.

Also I just need to know some facts.

Is there any physicist who didn't get Ph.D. who won a Nobel Prize? Or are all Nobel Prize winners all have Ph.D.?

But supposed I got lucky and write a paper that produces a breakthough, and I am just a graduate of BS in Physics without Ph.D. Would I get a Nobel? Or would the Ph.D. not vote me because I wasn't a Ph.D? It's like they don't want somebody lesser than their degree to won a Nobel?

You may all tell me that it's one pipe dream to produce any breakthough much less get a Nobel. People can win 1.6 billion dollar lotto. So nothing is impossible. So just please answer the above. Thank you!
 

Wrichik Basu

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Why are you after the Nobel Prize? Is it that you will not proceed to learn physics if you get to know that scientists are not eligible for nomination if they don't have a PhD? I haven't seen anyone running after the Prize at the level of UG. There are so many scientists around the world.

I don't understand your intentions. People study UG and PG levels to learn the basics, and then work at PhD and post-doc level to do research. Not for the Nobel (or for that matter, any) prize.
 

PeroK

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Also I just need to know some facts.

Is there any physicist who didn't get Ph.D. who won a Nobel Prize? Or are all Nobel Prize winners all have Ph.D.?
Why don't you start your research by researching the previous winners of the Nobel Prize?
 
M

member659127

Unfortunately, things are not as simple as in the good old "romantic days" where patent officers changed the way we understood physics and people around 25's wrote the most influential physics papers of the world, etc...

Getting to the state of art speciality in any field requires learning more and more and hard work every single day. Not to break your spirit but even people who have PhD's at early ages typically reach their 40's even 50's until they have a solid understanding and grasp of their very own field of study.

But supposed I got lucky and write a paper that produces a breakthough
Writing is not the only thing, you have to find an editor who will not judge you by your credentials and affiliation. Those certainly help at that point. It is only possible if some specialist of the field stands behind you, but even she or he would require that you have some sort of degree...

For the Nobel, I don't think any of the laureates started their research by the sole motivation of the prize itself. They just focused on the thing they are doing and was simply very good at it... Many respected scientists who made great breakthroughs and certainly deserved did not receive one by the way. It certainly increases your popularity (and makes you a star) but does not affect your quality when you reach that level in your field. The unfortunate thing is only your colleagues will be aware of this...
 

symbolipoint

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jlcd

Anyone aged ~50 year must know better than to expect to earn a Nobel Prize. Physics is for understanding, while some other sciences and especially Engineering are for getting employment as some type of "scientist" or engineer.

You wonder if beginning to study for undergrad and then continue to grad degree for Physics at age 50 is possible or a good idea. This depends on your other life-commitments and how hard you can study and for how long. If you wait until you reach age 60, you then would start TEN YEARS LATER. Could you handle that? Either way, how is your Mathematics right now?
 
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jlcd

Anyone aged ~50 year must know better than to expect to earn a Nobel Prize. Physics is for understanding, while some other sciences and especially Engineering are for getting employment as some type of "scientist" or engineer.

You wonder if beginning to study for undergrad and then continue to grad degree for Physics at age 50 is possible or a good idea. This depends on your other life-commitments and how hard you can study and for how long. If you wait until you reach age 60, you then would start TEN YEARS LATER. Could you handle that? Either way, how is your Mathematics right now?

I finished engineering in college 28 years ago. We only took calculus and I even forget them now. So I'll begin from scratch. My business is real estate leasing so I'm free most of the time. I just got married 2 years go and my wife just turned 42 years old and we don't have any kids. So the more I am free.

15 years ago. I should have started physics course. But I didn't do it thinking the physicists can just figure it out.

But the situation is so dire now. I don't want to one day waking up at 85 years old or 90 years old and seeing there is no major breakthrough in physics and most missing it and becoming so for the next century and more.

I can't state the exact reason why I know there should another level of breakthrough in physics in the horizon that even exceeds the Quantum and Relativistic revolution.

As for the Nobel Prize. It is not the real aim. The real aim is to share the knowledge to the entire world. And Nobel Prize is just secondary but inevitable. It's to encourage communications with other physicists and not working alone in secret. And to be encourage amidst the sacrifices.

However I don't really mind if others who follow me got the Nobel instead. What is important is making sure the next level of breakthrough will occur in this century.

It's ok to think this is an old man delusion.
But I have my reasons that would stand all scrutiny.

So just let me know at what age would I get the Ph.D. and can write and share arxiv papers that is on the level of Rovelli, etc.

Who is the oldest contributor there? How many who are 80s?
 

pinball1970

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Nothing is as good as it is in your 80s as it was in your 20s! Same in your 50s, especially starting from scratch.



Probably best be realistic and learn for fun first then see how it goes, some very good book references on here from beginner through to very advanced.



For the record Peter Higgs won his Nobel in his 80s although the work he did for it was published 50 years earlier.



Another guy was 96!



https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/facts/facts-on-the-nobel-prize-in-physics/
 
I feel for you jlad. I am getting a hint that you have an idea and want to study to test it out. I also "dream" of a doing something similar but you really need an established person in the field to explain it to so they can then determine if it is feasable based on their current up to date knowledge of the subject. Without that established person, it's just an idea of yours. Who knows, you just might be onto something and you might be right. Your idea might offer a breakthrough like no other. It will just get dismissed though unless you can back it up with the maths though so it's likely no one would take you seriously. It might then get discovered / re-discovored by an established person in the field in 50-100 years who can do the backround research on it and they will get the credit.

Its all about the Maths. Even if your theory is unprovable by today's standards / equipment, if it's based on solid maths then it will get discussed.
 
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My dad is now 85 years old and only watch tv all day and living sedentary life.

I don't know how average 85 year old think. Anyone here? Can you still think of physics line of thoughts or is it like having the mind of 12 years old where you miss some parts? When you are 90 years old. Is it like Dementia?

If I don't study it. By 60 years old. My brain may degrade far already. They say if you don't use it.. you can lose it.

Maybe I should start by sitting in math classes in the university? Then work through physics courses.
What If i can only take online classes. Is it sufficient to get nominated for a Nobel?

I still prefer to get Nobel which has cash prize of about 1.3 million dollars for medical and retirement money when I reach the 80s and 90 years old.
 

Choppy

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There's no reason you can't study physics at 50 or older. While cognitive abilities do decline with age, that doesn't mean that once a person is over 40 he or she is incapable of learning anything new or solving challenging problems. In fact, exercising your mind is probably one of the best things you can do to inhibit cognitive decline.

If you have the financial stability and the time to study something you're passionate about, go for it. The only way you'll really know if you're able to accomplish something is to try it an see.

As far as timelines go, assuming you're in a North American system and studying full time a bachelor's degree will take four years. Then going on to the PhD will take another four to six years. There are a lot of trials along the way and not everyone who goes for it, will make it. But your age won't be the limiting factor. In fact, in some ways it can be an advantage. Maturity and life experience can come into play in ways that are difficult to predict.

As for the Nobel-stuff, that's about as solid a retirement plan as buying lottery tickets. But I suspect you're already well aware of that.
 
M

member659127

In fact, in some ways it can be an advantage. Maturity and life experience can come into play in ways that are difficult to predict.
impossible to disagree with that...:thumbup:
 
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There's no reason you can't study physics at 50 or older. While cognitive abilities do decline with age, that doesn't mean that once a person is over 40 he or she is incapable of learning anything new or solving challenging problems. In fact, exercising your mind is probably one of the best things you can do to inhibit cognitive decline.

If you have the financial stability and the time to study something you're passionate about, go for it. The only way you'll really know if you're able to accomplish something is to try it an see.

As far as timelines go, assuming you're in a North American system and studying full time a bachelor's degree will take four years. Then going on to the PhD will take another four to six years. There are a lot of trials along the way and not everyone who goes for it, will make it. But your age won't be the limiting factor. In fact, in some ways it can be an advantage. Maturity and life experience can come into play in ways that are difficult to predict.

As for the Nobel-stuff, that's about as solid a retirement plan as buying lottery tickets. But I suspect you're already well aware of that.
I don't know if university would still accept me. My classmates would be 17 year olds.. lol.

Is there any online college course where one can study it at home?

If there is. What is the best online school or university out there?

Please enumerate. Thanks.
 

ZapperZ

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From experience, up to what age can the brain and neurons still able to study physics? Steven Weinberg is already 80+ years old. Is his brain still as good as when he was in the 20s?

If I begin undergraduate course in physics at 50 yrs old. How long before I can graduate as a PhD?

I want to focus on Beyond the Standard Model. There is gold mine there.

Also I just need to know some facts.

Is there any physicist who didn't get Ph.D. who won a Nobel Prize? Or are all Nobel Prize winners all have Ph.D.?

But supposed I got lucky and write a paper that produces a breakthough, and I am just a graduate of BS in Physics without Ph.D. Would I get a Nobel? Or would the Ph.D. not vote me because I wasn't a Ph.D? It's like they don't want somebody lesser than their degree to won a Nobel?

You may all tell me that it's one pipe dream to produce any breakthough much less get a Nobel. People can win 1.6 billion dollar lotto. So nothing is impossible. So just please answer the above. Thank you!
You are going into Physics for all the classic wrong reasons. Good luck!

Zz.
 
I don't know if university would still accept me. My classmates would be 17 year olds.. lol.
I had a few older adults in some of my classes. It's not an issue and they can't discriminate on age. But... to build off @ZapperZ's message, if you are pursuing a life of physics purely for notoriety then you will burn out on your first difficult course (for PhD path, you have many years of them).
 

George Jones

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Is there any physicist who didn't get Ph.D. who won a Nobel Prize?
Freeman Dyson did not get a Ph.D., but he did do very high-level physics research, high enough that, despite not having a Ph.D., he did get a permanent position at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.

Steven Weinberg has said that the Nobel committee "fleeced" Dyson with respect to his work Quantum ElectroDynamics, but a single Nobel can be shared by at most three people, so the Nobel for QED rightly went to Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga.

From experience, up to what age can the brain and neurons still able to study physics?
I still "study physics" and maths, and I am 58. I did, however, formally study physics and maths decades ago at university, so my background was acquired when I was much younger.

Steven Weinberg is already 80+ years old. Is his brain still as good as when he was in the 20s?
No. Weinberg's famous 1967 paper was written while he was in his thirties. Weinberg wrote very advanced textbooks on cosmology and quantum mechanics while he was in his seventies, but he is not so active in research. Studying physics, and doing high-level research in physics are two different things.

Dyson did his QED work when he was in his twenties, and, even before this, he produced groundbreaking work in pure mathematics.
 
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My advice would be to keep your hopes & dreams mostly to yourself, while you start by taking classes in calculus and classical mechanics. See how that goes. Do you have the drive to learn and master that material? If so, then study vector calculus and electromagnetism. By the time you get through that, you will know what you need to take up next. The path is the same, whether you are 20 or 50 or 80 years old.
 

gleem

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Could this yearning to do something that you wanted to do years ago be just another manifestation of a mid life crisis? Can you and your wife afford to live on one paycheck for considerably more than a decade ( incl post docs) with no guarantee that this investment of time and effort will pay off. Does your wife fully support this dream? This is not something that only you will be stressed for an extended period of time
 

russ_watters

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I had a few older adults in some of my classes. It's not an issue and they can't discriminate on age.
I think my mother was 55 when she completed her undergrad in business from Temple. That was pre-online school, so she spent a lot of time in the classroom with 20 year olds. So that part is definitely doable and not terribly unusual.

Edit:
My mom's cousin is in his late '70s and is a retired physics professor. He kills time these days doing groundbreaking neutrino research at Penn!
 
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Could this yearning to do something that you wanted to do years ago be just another manifestation of a mid life crisis? Can you and your wife afford to live on one paycheck for considerably more than a decade ( incl post docs) with no guarantee that this investment of time and effort will pay off. Does your wife fully support this dream? This is not something that only you will be stressed for an extended period of time
We have income from real esate leasing and it's sufficient to support me for the rest of my life. So I have nothing to do for the next 40 years (except reading Physicsforums for half a century more). We have no children yet having married so late. She is near 43 and I heard IVF has only 3% success rate and there is even bigger chance for genetic anomaly. She didn't want to undergo it. So we may have to accept the reality we won't have children.

So instead of reading Physicsforums for the next 40 or 50 years. I am thinking of going back to school mingling with people (although younger) and not anonymous PF folks.

In case we will raise a child (adoption etc) at 50 years old. Would it affect my taking up Ph.D. in physics?

I want to solve all of the following:

1. The quantum measurement problem
2. The nature of space and time and matter (quantum gravity)
3. dark matter and dark energy
4. Qualia of brain
5. New force of nature (that possibly links dark matter and normal matter)

Let's say, just for sake of discussion, I (or someone else) can solve all of the above 5 (because they may be related). Do I or he deserve a Nobel Prize?
 

gleem

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I cannot absolutely say that all major breakthroughs in science where made by scientist in the early years of their career but I think so. For breakthroughs later in career I believe that that was build on earlier work. Seeing that you might if successful be doing your seminal work at the age of 65 does not bode well for the impact that it will have.

I want to solve all of the following:

1. The quantum measurement problem
2. The nature of space and time and matter (quantum gravity)
3. dark matter and dark energy
4. Qualia of brain
5. New force of nature (that possibly links dark matter and normal matter
This is a beyond comprehension for a single person even attempting to solve one would be unbelievable for your situation. All I can say is knock yourself out. An if I could I would say amen to this thread.
 
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I cannot absolutely say that all major breakthroughs in science where made by scientist in the early years of their career but I think so. For breakthroughs later in career I believe that that was build on earlier work. Seeing that you might if successful be doing your seminal work at the age of 65 does not bode well for the impact that it will have.



This is a beyond comprehension for a single person even attempting to solve one would be unbelievable for your situation. All I can say is knock yourself out. An if I could I would say amen to this thread.
Wait. I think half of those who become physicists had planned to solve a major mystery. Don't they? It's part of it.

In the book Nobel Dreams and How I Lost the Nobel. You can see there is fierce competition among practicing scientists who got the Nobel. So it is part of the nature.

I expect by 90 years old. I should at least solved one of them. If not. I won't waste 40 years to become a physicist. I'd become spend my remaining years in the Yacht or trip around the world. But those thoeretical problems always haunt me daily.
 

Dr Transport

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Retire and spend your time on a boat floating around the Caribbean. The chances of making a significant dent in any of those topics starting at age 50 to get a BS in physics is pure fantasy.
 
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Retire and spend your time on a boat floating around the Caribbean. The chances of making a significant dent in any of those topics starting at age 50 to get a BS in physics is pure fantasy.
I tried doing that. I went to this great cruise before but all I could think of was quantum gravity and Rovelli and stuff. No scenes or tourist spots can attract me.I don't want to keep thinking about it for the next 50 years. I can go to Cern but without a degree.. no one would talk to me there.
 

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