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{Theoretical, Mathematical, Particle, Plasma} Physics

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1
    I recently acquired my BSc in physics and am planning to continue my studies on the MSc (and hopefully PhD) level.

    I have reasonable expectations to get into a very good program dealing on the topics of mathematical and theoretical physics.

    The main topics covered by the courses in that program are:

    Quantum Mechanics, QFT and Gauge Theories, General Relativity and Differential Geometry, Stringtheory and Geometry, Statistical Physics and Stochastics.

    Looking at the people in the program and the research they are conducting, one can see a strong focus on string theory and topics surrounding QFT.
    The topics taught there do interest me a lot (some research groups focus on quantum computing, which I find extremely interesting), but in regards to my future option I do have a question:

    In my undergrad studies we have not tapped into plasma physics or whatever I am to understand about it. By plasma physics I am mainly thinking fusion.
    How do plasma physics and particle and mathematical physics relate to each other? Is the process of fusion understood well enough to now only focus on the application?

    How does more fundamental research come into play? Is it reasonable to assume that research in particle physics might contribute in some way to fusion research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2010 #2
    You are mainly thinking about fusion, are they? Plasma physics is a very large topic, not all of it is necessarily about fusion (for which you should have a search for TOKAMAK). There are even applications in dentistry for plasmas, for instance.

    Plasma physics is *a lot* of electrodynamics. Consider a big volume of charged particles, a gas. Displace one of these charged particles - what will happen? Basic plasma physics will have you looking at problems like this to get you introduced to the field. There are a lot of astrophysical situations in which these problems are relevant - things like black holes, pulsars, stars generally..

    As for how the subjects relate: plasma physics is about the interaction of charged particles, and particle physics is..about particles.
  4. Jul 6, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the reply.
    Yeah, I realized I was highly unspecific, which is definitely because I have no grasp whatsoever about what is going on in these fields.

    Alright, so talking about fusion - where is research standing at? Having read up a tiny bit about what people are doing, at what stage is fusion research right now? It seems, as if people are well past the conceptual stage, with some problems not yet being solved (for instance, containment of the plasma).

    Is fusion research these days more an experimental discipline? How do theoreticians play a roal in there? And if I were to be interested in that field, would an education in mathematical physics help me at all?

    I want to add that up to this point I am yet undecided which field interests me the most, and I simply want to keep my options....
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