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Which courses should I cover to become involved in string theory?

  1. Apr 29, 2014 #1
    Hello everybody.
    I have a BSc in physics, I tried hardly recent two years to get high scores in GRE/TOEFL exams to get accepted in U.S. and continue my education in physics,however, I rejected badly. First I thought by myself to leave physics, I gambled whole my future for physics and now I'm trapped in a bad situation. Now, I think that I should study physics by myself without an institution. I'm interested in String Theory. Is it possible to map the path that I should pass to reach the point that a PhD student in string theory should be? Please include the courses and best books for that courses.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2014 #2


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    What makes you think that you can study on your own and reach a level of PhD student?

  4. Apr 29, 2014 #3
    I'm living in a deprived area and self-study is what I've done for whole of my life. And it's truly very hard to study the resources regularly without being delayed on the schedule. However I think this is the only choice I have,otherwise, I should escape Iran illegally. :D
  5. Apr 29, 2014 #4
  6. Apr 29, 2014 #5
    OK, this website is heavily detailed about the topics but I think there are still better resources than what mentioned there. For example I prefer Sadri Hassani mathematical methods. I know because of copyright law, the resources couldn't be so varied. So please call the other books that can be useful for me(not just free ones).
  7. Apr 29, 2014 #6
  8. Apr 29, 2014 #7
    I'm intrigued. Sadri Hassani is a professor at my university and I took his mathematical methods class.

    Frankly, you cannot reasonably expect to educate yourself to the point of a PhD by self-study. Having only a bachelor's degree, there is a long way to go before you are able to study string theory at the graduate level. My advice would be to study some more, and retake the GRE/TOEFL.
  9. Apr 30, 2014 #8
    I don't see why if you are independently wealthy and don't need to make a living and have as much free time as you want, that you wouldn't be able to self-study.

    I have a PhD (granted, in topology, not string theory, though my work was very close to that of some string theorists, almost to the point of being scooped by them), and I'm not sure supervision was all that vital, at least in attaining the level of knowledge that I have. My adviser did provide some guidance that allowed me to get unstuck at a few points in my thesis (some difficult little points for a newb like me to get through on my own), as well as help with learning to write, but that's just a question of producing the thesis/research/publications, rather than simply acquiring knowledge (and for the writing part, at least, there are other ways to learn that). In some ways, it was an advantage, but there's also this whole "drinking from a fire hose" phenomenon in grad school that I'm not sure is the optimal way to learn. Many of my friends from grad school would agree that just reading a book would have been better than some of those classes. I think being free from the pressure of grad school would have had considerable advantages, although there would have been a trade off. Given that I failed as a mathematician anyway (though, perhaps more on the teaching front), I think it would have been less traumatic if I had just studied on my own, the only issue being that I would have had to make a living, which would not have allowed time for it (although I did have to work part time for the department, anyway). I would have been much less overwhelmed and would have been able to have much greater retention and understanding of the material, due to not having to drink from the graduate school fire hose. The trade off would be that I wouldn't have been challenged as much and therefore forced to overcome some of my weaknesses. And I would not have been as well exposed to what was going on in the community (given that I was a failure, anyway, not much advantage, there). There are also subtle things that you do get from some of those graduate school moments that you wouldn't get by yourself. However, given the high stress environment, I'm not entirely convinced I wouldn't have been better off on my own. The stress just about killed me, and I wouldn't have done that to myself. And I don't really think it was necessary, for the most part. Maybe some is good, but you can try to simulate that and give yourself deadlines and stuff, if you need to. You can try to make a sort of unrealistic goal of reading some book in a certain amount of time, just to see if there are ways in which you might be able to make your learning more efficient and think about whether you might be spending too much time on certain points when it would be better to move on (that was one of my issues that grad school helped with a bit).

    This is the perspective of someone who had a very hands-off adviser, I suppose, and maybe that's one reason why I didn't do that well (perhaps, my bigger failure was due to teaching, though--they said my thesis was good, actually). Maybe I would have done better with more guidance.
  10. Apr 30, 2014 #9
    Thank you friends. I will consider your advices. I have an opportunity of working for one year and then studying my Master in Turkey. But regarding to my parents' diabetes sickness, and a lot of other factors, such as my military service pledge I'm really doubtful to leave home. I feel guilty badly. I think studying the physics by myself is possible and of course having a professor to guide me would make it easier. If I have the chance of studying in a good university, I will accept it. Please, appreciate the opportunity you have.
  11. Apr 30, 2014 #10
    In my opinion, I think what is more for PhD students is that they have more opportunities in doing scientific research than graduate levels. For the courses, I think most postgraduate students would have done Majority of the materials; thus, I think to reach the actual "PhD level", you would really have to work with some real academic people and engage in further research, unless you consider yourself a genius and could publish papers by yourself.
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