What is it like to do theoretical physics research?

In summary, this student is wondering if a physics career would be more interesting than a computer science career. He enjoys computer science, but is also interested in the mysteries of the universe. He thinks that the work that theoretical physicists do is interesting, but he is afraid that he is not as interested in the physical theories themselves as he is in the ideas behind them. He thinks that the work that theoretical physicists do is mostly done with computers nowadays, and he recommends that the student keep physics as a hobby.
  • #1
Hello everybody,

I am an undergraduate student studying computer science and I love it, especially Artificial Intelligence. I'm a curious person, so there are a lot of things that I find intriguing. But I sometimes wonder if a physics career would be more interesting, not because I don't like computer science enough, but because I'm also very curious about the Universe and all its mysteries, the nature of reality and how it all works etc.

Now here's the problem: I don't really know how is it like to do theoretical physics research (more precisely, theoretical cosmology research). And I'm sometimes afraid that I am more interested in the ideas surrounding all these mysteries than I'd be in doing research trying to answer them. I liked and did quite well at physics in high school (and at math too), but I found the physical theories, especially the mathematical part, a bit dull, a bit dry. So maybe I'm much more interested in the ideas behind the physical theories than in physics itself.

I guess the question is: what it's theoretical physics or theoretical cosmology research about? what do the researchers in these fields do and what their work consists of, beyond their online talks, conferences and what it looks like to the public eye?
 
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  • #2
andrew0310 said:
I found the physical theories, especially the mathematical part, a bit dull, a bit dry
I would recommend that you keep physics as a hobby and not a career then. Nothing at all is wrong with that. It is a hobby for me too
 
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Likes berkeman and andrew0310
  • #3
These days, most theoretical physics research is done with computers. You may find that the computer science, you love would lead you to a career that is not so different in day to day activity as a career in theoretical physics. It seems that if you love what you are doing, and you are being successful, you should have a strong reason for straying from that path.

As a colleague of mine said, (although he will not own up to it), "The stars are always brighter on the other side of the great attractor"
 
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Likes andrew0310 and Dale

1. What is the main goal of theoretical physics research?

The main goal of theoretical physics research is to understand the fundamental laws and principles that govern the behavior of the physical universe. This involves developing mathematical models and theories to explain and predict the behavior of particles, forces, and energy at a fundamental level.

2. How is theoretical physics research different from experimental physics research?

Theoretical physics research involves developing and testing theories and models using mathematical and computational methods, while experimental physics research involves conducting physical experiments to gather data and test hypotheses. Theoretical physicists often work closely with experimental physicists to interpret and analyze experimental results.

3. What skills are necessary to be successful in theoretical physics research?

To be successful in theoretical physics research, one needs a strong foundation in mathematics, particularly in areas such as calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. Additionally, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are essential skills for developing and testing new theories and models.

4. How does theoretical physics research contribute to society?

Theoretical physics research has contributed to numerous advancements in technology and our understanding of the natural world. Many modern technologies, such as computers, lasers, and GPS, are based on principles developed through theoretical physics research. Theoretical physics also helps us understand the origins of the universe and the behavior of matter and energy, leading to a deeper understanding of the world around us.

5. What are some current areas of research in theoretical physics?

Some current areas of research in theoretical physics include quantum mechanics, string theory, cosmology, and particle physics. These fields are constantly evolving and expanding as scientists seek to understand the fundamental nature of the universe. Additionally, interdisciplinary research combining theoretical physics with other fields, such as biology and computer science, is becoming increasingly popular.

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