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Unsure how dedicated I am to pure physics

  1. Jul 7, 2014 #1
    I'm a third year physics student and I can't decide between computational-based physics and plain physics. I've taken a few programming courses and have been programming as a hobby since I was around 12. I originally wanted to do a lot of math and physics to apply it to programming for graphics and the physics etc but eventually slowed down on the programming stuff and became very interested in the more advanced physics.

    Maybe the act of wondering which one I should do already gives me the answer that I'm not dedicated enough to do pure physics, but it could be that I'm wondering out of fear and am inclined to pick something more employable which is natural since I grew up in poverty.

    So I'm wondering, is physics not worth doing if I'm not absolutely sure it's the only thing I'd want to do? I do spend a considerable amount of free time on physics, but it seems like most people that choose pure physics can't even picture themselves doing something different. I was even dabbling with the idea of medical physics. That for sure was out of fear of not being employable, though.

    Also, if I obtain a masters in computational physics instead of physics, would it require a lot of extra time to then pursue a phd in regular physics? It does leave out a considerable amount of advanced physics courses but I'm not sure if courses are even a major factor in how long a phd takes.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2014 #2


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    You might want to look at Applied Physics graduate programs. For example:
    http://www-applied.physics.lsa.umich.edu/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jul 7, 2014 #3
    first of all , you should be really really lucky you started as an undergrad in Physics , when everyone here in India told me Physics degree is a waste of time with no job prospects, as expected , i bogged down and took mechanical engineering degree and later found out Baby physics = Engineering! , Now some months ago ,i came through this http://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/tuva/#data=2|||0 {open with Internet Explorer} n my life turned upside down for regreting not to take physics in undergrad , now i am reading all feyman lectures available here http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

    ok enuf abt my story ,As far as my experience with ANSYS ,DYMOLA , APROS and MODELICA some small analogy can be again understood that computation is mostly a code and a theory combined , now again this theory come from Basic physics only ! Now even if you would look at the Scientist hired by CAE companies are mostly from Basic Physics , the development of CAE softwares started long before this course " Computational Physics " was born ,

    Also a CAE ( Computer Aided Engineering) company wud hire you only for that Basic theory which u wud give/ understand properly n wud provide the rough Algorithm for that and not for coding ( there are zillions of coders ready to do that job )

    I would advice to stick to Basic Physics ( Code u can do urself without getting into a course )
  5. Jul 7, 2014 #4

    Hmm I see what you're saying. So the coding education isnt that important to have on paper? I wonder if it'll be difficult to find resources for the high performance scientific computing stuff. Those seem to be the most useful classes in the computational branch of physics.
  6. Jul 7, 2014 #5
    I think even if you don't take the classes on coding, it is possible to learn them outside through some other education centers. I am sure they would be in your country, like a diploma or something. It is a good decision to stick with pure physics and learn the computational part aside, as it an extra work load. But if you can and would love it, then you should take those classes.
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