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I was wondering, what do theoretical physicists actually do? Putting teaching and marking responsibilities aside, would you be able to describe to me your day-to-day activities when you do research? It is something that has been on my mind for a while.

I suspect PF members will now ask me to elaborate on what I mean by “theoretical physicist”. What I mean is someone who is not engaged into experimental work (hence, I am not restricting the question solely to string theorists). Do you construct mathematical models to explain experimental results? What programs do you use? Do you use Matlab when doing computations? Or Mathematica perhaps? I read somewhere that exactly solvable problems in physics and maths are rare – does that mean you often use approximations or numerical analyses? How often do you collaborate with experimentalists in your research area? Etc.

Thank you for reading so far, happy holidays everyone! :)