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Whats an experimental Physicist?

  1. Dec 3, 2007 #1
    First off thank you all for all the advice that has been given. I am new to this forum but ive already received plenty of good advice.

    So, I love physics. I have decided that that is what i want to earn degrees in (phd if im cut out for it). My math knowledge is ok. grades in the high b's for calc 1-3 a's in physics 1-2. and im about to graduate community college.

    So im thinking experimental physicist. I think i might like this.
    Can anyone give me any input about the field? any and all advice will be accepted with great gratitude! Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2007 #2
    As the old joke goes, if you are a theoretical physicist, you spend your days looking for your sign error, and if you are an experimental physicist, you spend your days looking for the leak in your vacuum hose.

    The terms "experimental physicist" and "theoretical physicist" both cover a *lot* of ground...
  4. Dec 4, 2007 #3
    For the first degree you won't have to make a choice, you'll simply be learning the basics which everyone needs to know.

    An experimental physicist actually runs experiments ("gets his hands dirty"). Theoretical physicists use pen and paper to reason about the universe. There are also computational physicists, which use simulations to explore physical phenomena.

    Physically Incorrect
  5. Dec 5, 2007 #4
    well i love to get my hands dirty.

    so are advanced degrees in experimental physics earned by doing experiments and experimental research?
  6. Dec 5, 2007 #5
    There is no such thing as a degree in experimental physics. You either do physics or you don't. The actual nature of your work - pen and paper, test tube, lab, computer - isn't mentioned on your certificate, neither in your BSc nor in your MSc or PhD.

    The nature of your work will be determined in your MSc/PhD, when you have to pick an advisor and a lab. If you pick something theoretical, you'll do theoretical work. If you pick studying surface materials, you'll probably spend your days in a sterile lab. If you study NMR, you'll spend your days next to a superconducting magnet, and so forth.

    Physically Incorrect
  7. Dec 5, 2007 #6
    i see

    so its all about skills you develop on the way.

    Great site by the way
    (physically incorrect)

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