What ONE Physics topic would you choose to study and why?

In summary: I’m currently in second year of engineering and I’ve been struggling to find my place. Part of it is that I’m still trying to get my head around the mathematics behind things and I don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on it yet. But I also feel like I’m not learning a lot about the physical world. I’ve been doing some reading on engineering design and I’ve been trying to learn about thermodynamics and material properties, but it’s difficult because I find it hard to visualise what’s being talked about. I find it frustrating because I want to be able to applied what I’m learning in practical situations, but I
  • #1
bigmike94
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If you was restricted to only studying one physics topic for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

Don’t overthink it by trying to determine what I mean by topic etc just tell me your favourite subject and why do you like it so much 😃
 
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  • #2
bigmike94 said:
If you was restricted to only studying one physics topic for the rest of your life what would it be
Accelerator and beam physics.
bigmike94 said:
and why?
Just because I love it, more than any other sub-field?
 
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  • #3
Dynamic systems (classical physics/engineering), both linear and non-linear. I don't know why, maybe familiarity since that was my graduate work.
 
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  • #4
QFT. I don't really know why, I'm just fascinated by it. And I'm basically not interested in much of anything bigger than a proton.

-Dan
 
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  • #5
Mine used to be GR, then later I shifted to QM+QFT. Now I'm back to GR + Galactic Dynamics + Cosmology because there seems to be more unknown fundamental physics hidden therein which might plausibly be discoverable. Probably easier than trying to prove existence theorems in general QFT. :oldwink:
 
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  • #6
topsquark said:
QFT. I don't really know why, I'm just fascinated by it. And I'm basically not interested in much of anything bigger than a proton.

-Dan
Its quite interesting you mentioned the proton thing. It got me thinking, I have studied first year mechanics and electromagnetism and also some Lagrangian mechanics.

I like working through the book (John Taylors classical mechanics, excellent book) but it’s not why I started learning physics, reading about quantum mechanics, particles, cosmology and general relativity is what attracted me to physics.

Working out the equations of motion of a double pendulum was definitely not on my to do list 😆

But it’s what we need to do to get to the good stuff! Once I get the basics out the way I’m going to focus on the things that first brought me to physics, hopefully I’ll like it! 😃
 
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  • #7
I am not a physicist, so I do not know if my comment is welcome here (the title of this thread does not imply that it is only about physics' research projects). I like to think of myself as an engineer, because I work mostly on macro things with occasional dips into the micro/quantum ones, figuring how to use them to solve practical problems. Using computers telecommunications and artificial satellites to map in detail the gravity fields of the Earth,Moon and planets, for example, which is a form of knowledge that has many different applications in geoscience and engineering.

And perhaps further not welcome, but here it goes: I would like to understand better the possibilities of realization of the until now elusive practical, everyday production of fusion-driven electric power and its prospects of ever becoming something that generates much, much much more energy than it consumes and does not require gigantic installations and engines with experimental huge lasers and huge plasma containment devices, so not something looking like the current large tokamak-like ones. Among other reasons, because if this became feasible, it might very well prolong the existence of a civilized humanity for centuries to come.
Not a life project for me, but perhaps someone else here might decide to take it up?
 
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  • #8
OscarCP said:
I am not a physicist, so I do not know if my comment is welcome here (the title of this thread does not imply that it is only about physics' research projects). I like to think of myself as an engineer, because I work mostly on macro things with occasional dips into the micro/quantum ones, figuring how to use them to solve practical problems. Using computers telecommunications and artificial satellites to map in detail the gravity fields of the Earth,Moon and planets, for example, which is a form of knowledge that has many different applications in geoscience and engineering.

And perhaps further not welcome, but here it goes: I would like to understand better the possibilities of realization of the until now elusive practical, everyday production of fusion-driven electric power and its prospects of ever becoming something that generates much, much much more energy than it consumes and does not require gigantic installations and engines with experimental huge lasers and huge plasma containment devices, so not something looking like the current large tokamak-like ones. Among other reasons, because if this became feasible, it might very well prolong the existence of a civilized humanity for centuries to come.
Not a life project for me, but perhaps someone else here might decide to take it up?
Thank you and your comment is definitely welcome here. I myself have changed degree from physics to engineering. I still love learning about the theory behind things and I am looking forward to eventually learning about cosmology. But I am a practical person and love making use of maths and physics to learn how to make useful real things.

The problem is now I’m struggling to choose which engineering field. My degree is both mechanical and electrical but on the side I am studying civil. I just love it all.
 
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  • #9
If I had to choose one subject to study for the rest of my life, it would easily be anything vector calculus.
 
  • #10
Neutron stars. A lot more interesting that black holes. A huge quantum environment.
 
  • #11
Early universe cosmology, as this is a bit of a cheat since this involves a large swath of physics: general relativity, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, elementary particles, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, electromagnetism, fluids, scattering, ...
 
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  • #12
For me, it would be broadly statistical physics, given the connections between that field with probability theory (and thus ultimately also connected with my field of statistics), as well as deep connections between statistical physics and the study of complex systems.
 
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  • #13
OscarCP said:
I am not a physicist, so I do not know if my comment is welcome here (the title of this thread does not imply that it is only about physics' research projects). I like to think of myself as an engineer,
Engineering = Applied Physics

I worked for an engineering company whose motto was "Linking Theory with Practice". I worked in a group that did modeling and simulation of nuclear fuel and nuclear materials, and we developed computation models based on the physics. These days, I do modeling of radiation effects on materials, which encompasses a lot of applied physics at nuclear, atomic, nano-scale, and macroscale levels.

I like to delve into astrophysics (nuclear and radiation effects at various scales), when I'm not tied down to my normal practical engineering work. There is actually a practical link between the two fields in terms of radiation effects.
 
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  • #14
Cosmology, because for this you need all of physics and are not restricted to just "one subject" ;-)) SCNR.
 
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  • #15
Same as vanhees, cosmology ;)
 
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  • #16
bigmike94 said:
If you was restricted to only studying one physics topic for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

Don’t overthink it by trying to determine what I mean by topic etc just tell me your favourite subject and why do you like it so much 😃
If I were restricted to study only one physics topic for the rest of my life, then it would be astrophysics, because it's interesting.
 
  • #17
You guys are wrong!
Complexity in biological systems!
 
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  • #18
Math100 said:
If I were restricted to study only one physics topic for the rest of my life, then it would be astrophysics, because it's interesting.
A very clever choice, because for astrophysics you need (almost) all of physics ;-)).
 
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  • #19
bigmike94 said:
If you was restricted to only studying one physics topic for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

Don’t overthink it by trying to determine what I mean by topic etc just tell me your favourite subject and why do you like it so much 😃
Topic is more than a year old. Think! What you may pick as so extremely interesting today could change every one-and-a-half to two years. Picking just one thing might not work for everybody.

May I express a topic? The behavior and flow of granular materials;
Members or readers want to know why? I do not know how to say why.
 
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Related to What ONE Physics topic would you choose to study and why?

What is the most fascinating aspect of studying physics?

The most fascinating aspect of studying physics is the ability to uncover the fundamental laws and principles that govern the universe. It allows us to understand how everything in the world works, from the smallest particles to the largest galaxies.

Why is it important to choose just one physics topic to study?

Choosing just one physics topic to study allows for a deep dive into the subject matter, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the topic. It also allows for specialization and expertise in that particular area, which can be valuable for research and career opportunities.

What are some popular physics topics that scientists choose to study?

Some popular physics topics that scientists choose to study include quantum mechanics, relativity, astrophysics, particle physics, and condensed matter physics. These areas of study cover a wide range of phenomena and have significant implications for our understanding of the universe.

How does studying a specific physics topic contribute to the advancement of science?

Studying a specific physics topic allows scientists to make significant contributions to the advancement of science by deepening our understanding of that particular area. This can lead to new discoveries, technologies, and applications that benefit society as a whole.

What ONE physics topic would you choose to study and why?

If I had to choose just one physics topic to study, I would choose quantum mechanics. It is a fascinating and mysterious field that challenges our understanding of the fundamental nature of reality. Exploring the strange and counterintuitive phenomena of quantum mechanics could lead to groundbreaking discoveries and revolutionize our current understanding of the universe.

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