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Theoretical physicist

  1. Nov 24, 2014 #1
    Hey folks, If someone wants to be a theoretical physicist is preferable to follow the mathematics department or the physics? i live in greece (just to know)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2014 #2

    DataGG

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    Well... the name is a give-away, isn't it?

    I suggest you read the "How to be a physicist" guide, by ZapperZ.
     
  4. Nov 24, 2014 #3
    yeah generally speaking... thanks btw!!!
     
  5. Nov 24, 2014 #4

    DataGG

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  6. Nov 25, 2014 #5
    honestly you don't need much physics to start grad school... a math major who's taken some senior physics classes could easily jump in I think, if the department allows it.
     
  7. Nov 25, 2014 #6
    For theoretical physics, a personal recommendation I've gotten from one of my professors was to major in mathematics and minor in physics.
    The optimal choice would be a physics/math double major/focus, if you can do it.
    However, if you had to choose only one, I think going with physics seems like a safer bet.
     
  8. Nov 25, 2014 #7
    thanks!!
     
  9. Nov 26, 2014 #8

    radium

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    I disagree. I would definitely major physics and either minor, or if you want double major in math. The way mathematics is used in physics is much different from the way it is taught in math classes. It is much less rigorous and focused on applications to physical problems. For example, if you think about the Feynman path integral formalism and renormalization methods/RG, a lot of what physicists do would apall mathematicians if the saw it.

    Professors have all told me (even one who is known to do very mathematically involved research and might have originally majored in math and a string theorist) said that you can just learn the necessary math as you go. It might be useful to take a course in analysis, topology, differential geometry, and maybe abstract algebra, but their is no need to take the whole sequence for majors.

    There is an area of physics called mathematical physics where they are much more mathematically rigorous, but most theoretical physics does not fall under this category.
     
  10. Jan 16, 2015 #9

    ChrisVer

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    Are you interested in a greek institute?

    If yes, then I'd suggest you take the mathematics for the Bachelor [take physics-offered courses during your degree], and then search for a Master degree in theoretical physics...
     
  11. Jan 16, 2015 #10
    hello chris im aiming for the electrical engineering department, (Metsovian) you know, it is considered to be one of the best departments, and then decide.i also like high energy theoretical physics like dimitris nanopoulos.
     
  12. Jan 16, 2015 #11

    ChrisVer

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    I am not sure if that can help in searching for a Master in Theoretical Physics later on... :D
    I wouldn't consider Nanopoulos a theoretical physicist, but a good phenomenologist ;) and unfortunately he is not in the University staff [he wasn't accepted by the committee]
     
  13. Jan 16, 2015 #12
    really? :( hmm.. i havent thought about applying on universities in foreign countries because i dont have any medals in competitions and my economical situations is not good so...i really liked the cambridge departmen of applying mathematics and theoretical phhysics
     
  14. Jan 16, 2015 #13

    ChrisVer

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    In order to help you understand what I mean: I don't consider a theoretical physicist to be a physicist at all. What they are mainly working on, are abstract quantities and mathematics, and in most of cases, they are working at the front-lines of mathematics, creating new maths [in geometry, topology and so on]...
    A phenomenologist on the other hand is more constraint into taking theories, and trying to make models that can (or will be) be accessed to experiments. (in a talk Nanopoulos also stresses how important that is, and that's why I put him in the phenomenologists' rank).
    So, a theoretical physicist doesn't need to be an expert on physics, he only needs to learn the mathematical way of thinking and being rigorous in his/her calculations...Apart from working on physical problems, I wouldn't be able to distinguish him from a mathematician. They have the advantage that they can write and prove mathematical problems and never be falsified by the experiments :) even if they do, they will have contributed to the mathematical society.

    Now in general there is nothing stopping you from working with what you like [theoretical physics] in a more physical way...
    In that case the universities you are thinking of, can give you a good background and a good future for continuing. If on the other hand you want pure mathematics, choose a mathematics department.

    From my experience, I'd say that a phenomenologist in a QFT course, will take you from point zero and reach you up to maybe seeing all the Standard Model theories and maybe more...
    A theoretician will take you from zero and reach you to defining the Abelian gauges [and maybe you won't even hear the word "photon"]....
    that is a funny- but exaggerating example (so the rest of PF, don't come to kill me)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  15. Jan 16, 2015 #14
    i see, thanks for explanation..the problem is that the departments of physics in greece are not proper for theoretical physics..if only i could go to DAMTP in cambridge.. :)
     
  16. Jan 16, 2015 #15

    ChrisVer

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    as far as the undergrad program is concerned, I'd say that the greek universities are really good [if you are good yourself]...of course there are some other misfunctions going on that can cause you troubles, but.... a good enough person will achieve in overcoming those troubles (the greek universities work under social darwinism :)) now that I think of this, that's creepy ).

    If you can find some funds or grants [if there is any], then you can also look abroad (?)...

    But in any case, the "good" person will also find something interesting to work on everywhere that he/she goes....
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
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