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What specific field in physics would best fit me? programs?

  1. Dec 24, 2015 #1
    Hello, I am currently a sophomore double majoring in Physics and Math at Purdue University. I have a 4.0 overall GPA and would love to earn a Ph.D. and probably a postdoc position in the future. But what should I concentrate in? To which graduate program should I set my eyes on? Here are some facts about me:

    - I have taken only five physics course with the most recent being "Modern Physics" (a big conglomeration of different bits of theory from different fields that barely scratches each iceberg, i.e. my least favorite class. I like courses with more focus. I will expand this point further).
    - I LOVE theory. Theoretical physics all the way. I liked my experiment class; it was fun and all. But I do very much want to be a theorist.
    - I'm not afraid of math. I will go as far to say I love math as a spouse, but I love physics more. (All the math for me please, that's applicable in the physics I would want to do)
    - I love working with quantum mechanics and special relativity. I'm looking forward to working with general relativity and elementary particle physics in the near future, for I am not up to that speed yet.
    - I HATE (respectfully dislike) working with solids, band theory, thermodynamics, anything that reminds me of chemistry or biology. I can be interested in Fermi-Dirac statistics and stuff like that because its more fundamental. Entropy is alright.
    - I don't like working with circuits or similar stuff like that, but I enjoy working with electromagnetic field theory, (Maxwell's equations).
    - I want to work in academia.
    - Nevertheless, I have never received lower than an A+ on any physics course, so its not like I have trouble (It is worthy to note in the near future, I will probably find myself in rather tough courses, so this fact may change)
    - Last semester I worked two jobs. One was as an Undergraduate Teaching assistant for the Introductory mechanics course and the other was a Control Room Operator for the department's underground particle accelerator (not as exciting as it may sound). For this Spring semester, I may have the opportunity of working with a professor and his research. All that he would tell about the research is that its patent and fundamental.
    - And I like chess.

    Knowing these facts about me, what fields of physics should I set my eyes toward? Should I join my local Society of Physics Students chapter at Purdue even though it's lacking in activity and vigor? What physics journals should I consider reading and subscribe to? What graduate universities/programs would fit best with my interests?

    I know that my post is quite long and forgive me for it being so, but I realize that this website is the best place to ask questions and receive respectable answers. Thanks for reading this post.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    My suggestion is that you read Prof Gerard T'Hooft website on becoming a theoretical physicist to see what you need to do and when.


    You can also read ZapperZ's excellent article on becoming a physicist that can give you a timeline of what to expect.


    Lastly, I would suggest you reconsider your opinions on all those subjects that you deemed boring as they may come to your rescue later in life. Imagine if Einstein thought Newtonian physics was boring...

    Keep an open mind and in your studies look for where theories breakdown because that's where interesting things happen.
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