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Courses Which fields of physics are good to specialize in?

  1. Sep 4, 2017 #1
    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.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2017 #2

    jedishrfu

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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.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2017 #3

    atyy

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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 ...
     
  5. Sep 5, 2017 #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.
     
  6. Sep 5, 2017 #5

    jedishrfu

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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.
     
  7. Sep 5, 2017 #6

    ISamson

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    However the engineers must be closely familiar and good with physics and that is my point.
     
  8. Sep 5, 2017 #7

    jedishrfu

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    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.
     
  9. Sep 5, 2017 #8

    jedishrfu

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    I agree but for a physicist, the timing is limited where they can help before the engineers rule.
     
  10. Sep 5, 2017 #9

    ISamson

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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.
     
  11. Sep 5, 2017 #10

    Vanadium 50

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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),
     
  12. Sep 5, 2017 #11

    Fervent Freyja

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    Biophysics!
     
  13. Sep 5, 2017 #12

    jedishrfu

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    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.
     
  14. Sep 5, 2017 #13

    radium

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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.
     
  15. Sep 6, 2017 #14

    ISamson

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    We have already made a quantum computer!
     
  16. Sep 6, 2017 #15

    jedishrfu

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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.
     
  17. Sep 6, 2017 #16

    ISamson

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    Aren't some already in use by big companies for enormous data processing?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2017
  18. Sep 6, 2017 #17

    jedishrfu

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    You can look at the timeline for quantum computing and we are getting close but there is no commercially available machine yet.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computing

    They are still very much niche machines for testing the waters and for getting customer interest.
     
  19. Sep 6, 2017 #18

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    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

    but that there's hope to build a commercially viable Quantum computer.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  20. Sep 6, 2017 #19
    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.

    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. Sep 6, 2017 #20

    ISamson

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