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Theory project for an inexperienced student- ideas?

  1. Mar 27, 2014 #1
    (sorry if this is in the wrong section)

    Hello, I am in my final year of school (UK) and will be starting university in September. Over the summer I am looking to do an internship/project at my local university for fun. I have a particular interest in the theoretical side of physics, though my understanding is extremely limited.

    Do you know of any aspect of physics that would be suitable to work on as a short theory project for an inexperienced student who has not started university yet? I'm looking for something that's challenging (for a 17/18-year-old) but does not require a huge amount of knowledge at a very advanced level, and that would not be too much trouble for the physics department to host. Does such a thing exist?

    I suspect the answer is no, and I would be better off looking for an experiment/ labwork type project, but I thought I should check anyway.

    Thank you for any advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2014 #2
    Can you program?

    Most theory projects you can do are going to be very computational because analytic work obviously wont be your strength at that level.
  4. Mar 27, 2014 #3
    If you can program there are quite a lot of things you can do. If you can't there is still enough time to learn until summer.
    But you shouldn't disregard experiments just like this. I used to be the same, but understanding how something is measured is very important.
  5. Mar 27, 2014 #4
    Yes, I can do a little programming (C++/ROOT), which I learnt last year for a data-analysis project, and I'm also going to practice coding over the next few months. I agree that understanding experiment construction is important (it's what I mainly did last year) but as I hope to study mathematical physics next year, learning some more theory/maths techniques would be useful.
  6. Mar 27, 2014 #5
    Perhaps go to arXiv.org for an interesting paper to study, step through, and understand. Then someone at the university can mentor you with your questions. Papers that use statistical analysis rather than theorem-proof may be readable to you.
  7. Mar 27, 2014 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm a little confused. How do you pick a project before you pick a supervisor?
  8. Mar 27, 2014 #7
    Agree. There isnt really much of a point to go around reading random ArXiv papers. Find someone who does some computational work who can benefit from you then ask then for suggestions on what to read.
  9. Mar 28, 2014 #8
    I don't want to pick a project yet, I'm just trying to work out if there is an topic of physics in which a theory-type project might be possible on some level. There are a few people I might contact, but I didn't want to ask if I could do a project that would turn out to be way beyond my ability, so I thought I should check. As it is, it seems like an experiment-type project would be better at my level.
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