Which fields of physics are good to specialize in?

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Over the next decade, and few decades, which branches/ fields of physics will experience tremendous growth? I'm wondering what field I'd want to "specialize in" or focus in and could use some of your guy's opinion.
 

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Quantum computing will need physicists as it ramps up. A lot of jobs will be to assist engineers in building production models of these devices.
 
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  • #3
atyy
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Quantum computing will need physicists as it ramps up. A lot of jobs will be to assist engineers in building production models of these devices.
I think you are wrong but hope you are right. I think it'll be 1000 years or never before we get a useful quantum computer. We'll have fusion and quantum gravity first ...
 
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  • #4
ISamson
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Classical mechanics might slightly grow, because we might need more calculations for rockets and technology to be used successfully.
Electronics will grow, because of the need of technology and its demand.
Atomic and molecular sciences will develop, because of the need of medicine and chemical engineering (nanotechnology).
High energy particle physics and nuclear physics will spread because of the thriving technology.

In my opinion these fields will prosper because of the technological development and recent human advances. These fields might be useful in nuclear and molecular medicine and medical research.
I would however choose particle physics, because in my opinion it is very interesting.
 
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Classical mechanics might slightly grow, because we might need more calculations for rockets and technology to be used successfully.
Electronics will grow, because of the need of technology and its demand.
Atomic and molecular sciences will develop, because of the need of medicine and chemical engineering (nanotechnology).
High energy particle physics and nuclear physics will spread because of the thriving technology.

In my opinion these fields will prosper because of the technological development and recent human advances. These fields might be useful in nuclear and molecular medicine and medical research.
I would however choose particle physics, because in my opinion it is very interesting.
The problem with many of these fields is that engineers can fill the jobs easily and might be preferred over a physicist.
 
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ISamson
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The problem with many of these fields is that engineers can fill the jobs easily and might be preferred over a physicist.
However the engineers must be closely familiar and good with physics and that is my point.
 
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I think you are wrong but hope you are right. I think it'll be 1000 years or never before we get a useful quantum computer. We'll have fusion and quantum gravity first ...
Let's average our estimates out using orders of magnitude 10 years vs 1000 years and say 30 years. In 30 years though, the engineers will take over as engineering specialization always wins out over physics.
 
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However the engineers must be closely familiar and good with physics and that is my point.
I agree but for a physicist, the timing is limited where they can help before the engineers rule.
 
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Yes, however, for example, an engineer must calculate if a piece will hold the pressure in that position, and this is mostly physics. This is an example where engineers must know at least some physics.
 
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Ivan, you're moving the goalposts. Nobody disputes that engineers need to know some physics. However, this is a very different thing that saying physicists need to develop more classical mechanics (your point in #4),
 
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  • #11
Fervent Freyja
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Biophysics!
 
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  • #12
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Biophysics!
Yes, that's a big field especially the work on protein folding. There's even some work going on for biological computing encoding information in DNA.
 
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  • #13
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I would say that condensed matter physics in general is very promising field right now. I think quantum matter is very beautiful in that it can be very exotic and use techniques traditionally used by high energy theorists while also being connected to experiment. For example, a lot of the work now being done with hydrodynamic transport in strongly correlated systems was motivated by results in gravity. The discovery of topological insulators has motivated work in quantum computing and also the detection of Majorana fermions in solid state systems.

As mentioned before, biophysics (which has many connections to soft matter) is a rapidly growing field with lots of opportunities to find your niche. Much of this work has applications to understanding things like neurodegenerative diseases where it is thought that changes in cellular environment can make it energetically favorable for cells to aggregate and form certain structures or evolution in populations of bacteria.
 
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  • #14
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I think you are wrong but hope you are right. I think it'll be 1000 years or never before we get a useful quantum computer. We'll have fusion and quantum gravity first ...
We have already made a quantum computer!
 
  • #15
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We have already made a quantum computer!
But its experimental and not at the production level for commercial use. To get there will require physicists, engineers and programmers to develop the manufacturing tools, methodology and scheme for insuring that it works consistently and that the resultant answers are always correct.
 
  • #16
ISamson
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But its experimental and not at the production level for commercial use. To get there will require physicists, engineers and programmers to develop the manufacturing tools, methodology and scheme for insuring that it works consistently and that the resultant answers are always correct.
Aren't some already in use by big companies for enormous data processing?
 
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  • #18
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Here's an article on the latest ideas in Quantum Computing which shows its still very much a research field:

http://www.sciencealert.com/breakin...d-it-finally-makes-quantum-computers-scalable

Australian researchers have designed a new type of qubit - the building block of quantum computers - that they say will finally make it possible to manufacture a true, large-scale quantum computer.
but that there's hope to build a commercially viable Quantum computer.
 
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  • #19
I would say that condensed matter physics in general is very promising field right now. I think quantum matter is very beautiful in that it can be very exotic and use techniques traditionally used by high energy theorists while also being connected to experiment. For example, a lot of the work now being done with hydrodynamic transport in strongly correlated systems was motivated by results in gravity. The discovery of topological insulators has motivated work in quantum computing and also the detection of Majorana fermions in solid state systems.

As mentioned before, biophysics (which has many connections to soft matter) is a rapidly growing field with lots of opportunities to find your niche. Much of this work has applications to understanding things like neurodegenerative diseases where it is thought that changes in cellular environment can make it energetically favorable for cells to aggregate and form certain structures or evolution in populations of bacteria.
It seems disingenuous to describe topological insulators as having been discovered. The transport experiments are inconclusive from what I know, and even fans of the subject will admit that some of the materials claimed to have these properties aren't "true" topological insulators (e.g. Bi2Se3 or one of its variants). (Good) Experimentalists I've heard give talks like to point out how they have leaky bulk states, which is a bit of a contradiction to the whole insulator bit. Here's a good recent experimental paper which posits a far less sexy, fancy explanation than ex-string theory math: https://journals.aps.org/prb/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevB.96.045433

Now I'm a fan of spintronics so I try to be an optimist about TI's and the whole topological materials field, but I'm also concerned that it's just welfare for ex-string theorists.

It's also not my field so maybe I'm not up to date.

We have already made a quantum computer!
Most of them, from what I know, basically need to cheat in order to operate, but some claims have been made that this is not the case.

Regarding biophysics, I used to work in the field. There's quite a bit of good work being done on the experimental front with numerous breakthroughs in structure discovery, a fundamental contribution of the field. The theoretical/computational front is pretty messy but molecular dynamics simulations, fraught with peril though they are, are maturing and may produce more than just very pretty pictures.
 
  • #21
Dr. Courtney
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Over the next decade, and few decades, which branches/ fields of physics will experience tremendous growth? I'm wondering what field I'd want to "specialize in" or focus in and could use some of your guy's opinion.
Learn to be among the best in your chosen field. Then you'll know how to become among the best if you need to switch fields.

Why desire a field where even the mediocre will earn a good living?

Yawn.
 
  • #22
Learn to be among the best in your chosen field. Then you'll know how to become among the best if you need to switch fields.

Why desire a field where even the mediocre will earn a good living?

Yawn.
This is sort of good advice but I think it's missing the point that people are better off working in fields that are growing than fields which aren't.

I'd rather do a thesis in theoretical condensed matter where I might have a chance at a career than a thesis in quantum gravity where I definitely don't.
 
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  • #23
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the engineers will take over as engineering specialization always wins out over physics.
I disagree. You don't run out of work for physicists. A field often starts by physicists making some new discovery. Then engineers make an application out of the initial discoveries while physicists increase the knowledge about the field for the next generation of applications. And so on. There is no clear separation between the two things, of course, and physicists often join the development of applications.

Engineers (by education) have some more specific knowledge in some specialized fields - but physicists learn how to learn these things quickly, in addition to a (typically) broader knowledge in other fields.
 
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  • #24
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Trying to figure out where there will be shortages 10-15 years out is, in my view, a fools errand. You can start with Bohr's line "It is difficult to predict, especially the future", but there is the more pragmatic problem is that if a large number of people shift fields to anticipate where there may be a shortage, there won't be a shortage.
 
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  • #25
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I disagree. You don't run out of work for physicists. A field often starts by physicists making some new discovery. Then engineers make an application out of the initial discoveries while physicists increase the knowledge about the field for the next generation of applications. And so on. There is no clear separation between the two things, of course, and physicists often join the development of applications.

Engineers (by education) have some more specific knowledge in some specialized fields - but physicists learn how to learn these things quickly, in addition to a (typically) broader knowledge in other fields.
What I meant was in a company developing the technology the physicists are often pushed out once the engineers have a solid grip on the new technology. The physicists specialize in doing research but the development effort changes to commercialization and so they either lose interest or can't contribute as much. As an example, engineers own the production environment in IBM but physicists work at the IBM Watson research facility not in direct day to day contact with the engineers.
 
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