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Physics Theoretical Plysics Vs. Astrophysics

  1. Apr 28, 2010 #1
    Hello everybody, I have a question that I've been thinking about for a long time and I'm looking for some advice. I'm currently a junior at a university in California and I'm about to declare my major. Throughout my whole life I knew that it would be astrophysics, but I've taken 5 astronomy classes and it barely touched on the topics I'm interested in such as higher dimensions, parallel universes, closed time loops, ect.. Should I reconsider declaring physics as my major rather than astrophysics to learn more about these abstract topics?
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  3. Apr 28, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    "Parallel universes" is really more in the realm of science fiction than science. Most undergraduate degrees - irrespective of field - won't touch it. "Higher dimensions" is quite speculative, and I'd again be surprised if any major spent more than an hour over 4 years discussing it.
  4. Apr 28, 2010 #3
    Basically, Vanadium50 is on the money as usual. Presumably you've garnered these interests from popular science books or otherwise - you should leave this type of material as entertainment, since I would be extremely surprised if any undergraduate in physics, astrophysics or at all otherwise spent more than a few side-notes on topics such as this.

    If you're looking for things that are outlandish and fantastic, you should stick with astrophysics. You should probably have a look at the courses you'll be expected to chose from in later years too.
  5. Apr 28, 2010 #4
    The problem with those topics is that there (with the exception of higher dimensions) is not much to say about them since they might not exist at all. Higher dimensions is the one topic that's generally useful and you can get an introduction to that in some high level math class. Hilbert spaces, functionals, etc. etc.

    If you haven't taken relativity yet, then you probably want to do that.
  6. Apr 29, 2010 #5
    I'm sorry maybe I wasnt specific enough on the topics so they may seem too outlandish and in the realm of science fiction. By parallel universes I was referring to Everest's multiple world interpretation of quantum mechanics, I've read that this interpretation is gaining popularity among cosmologists because it eliminates the need for the collapse of a particles wave function. And higher dimensions was referring to the 10, 11 or more dimensions proposed in string theory so unite the gravity force with the other three forces. Closed time loops is the frame dragging effect caused by a rotating gravitational field such as that of a rotating black hole. With these topics of interest should I become and Astrophysicist or a physicist?
  7. Apr 30, 2010 #6
    The problem with interpretations of quantum mechanics is that there are several of them which as far as we know are all mathematically equivalent. Most physics courses in quantum focus mainly on solving problems with specific situations, and so the philosophy is something that isn't emphasized.

    Also, I think you are somewhat mistaken about the popularity of the multiple world interpretation.

    This is pretty highly speculative, and I've sensed that there is a lot less optimism that it's the right approach than there was a few years ago.

    It turns out that no one has gotten closed time loops to work.

    The bad news is that you'll only be able to do useful research on at most one of the three, so pick the one that is most interesting and then get the math background to be able to work on the problems. The important thing is to get the math skills and also to analyze ordinary situations. Once you have the math skills, then at that point you can figure out in what direction to go based on what research is being done.
  8. Apr 30, 2010 #7
    I'm being very vague because in research you almost never end up where you intended to end up. You start walking in a general direction, and as you find things you end up changing direction and hopefully you end up finding something useful along the way.
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