Which fields of physics are good to specialize in?

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  • #26
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Bump ^^
 
  • #27
symbolipoint
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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.
The description sounds much like other types of industries. Some scientific or technological companies have research & development facilities in which people work but most of such people do not see the day-to-day production situations; but in the companies' other sites, there may be a few engineers at work overseeing everything at the sites.
 
  • #28
There is truth in what @jedishrfu said.
For example, some time ago, physicists were the only ones working in the laser industry. Now, more and more laser engineering courses are being created.
Same with nanotechnology.

It will always be like this. Physicists discover new fields and work at the most innovative parts of technology and science. And if it gets more and more commercialized, specialized engineers take over large amount of positions. However, that does not mean that physics positions get reduced over time, as there will always be new innovative fields. It will be the same with the "big" topics of the near future, e.g. quantum computing or nuclear fusion. First, mostly physicists will work on these topics, later on, there will be new engineering degrees focussing on it.
 
  • #29
ZapperZ
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Bump ^^
What is the reason that you bumped this? Has our ability to predict the future improved since last year?

Zz.
 
  • #30
StatGuy2000
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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.
I agree with you that trying to figure out future shortages is an impossible task. That being said, one can make reasonable probabilistic assumptions about which fields are growing or not. For example, I think it would be fair to say that the likelihood that there will be a sudden growth in the need for, say, string theorists (or those who more broadly specialize in quantum gravity) will be fairly low.
 
  • #31
ZapperZ
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I agree with you that trying to figure out future shortages is an impossible task. That being said, one can make reasonable probabilistic assumptions about which fields are growing or not. For example, I think it would be fair to say that the likelihood that there will be a sudden growth in the need for, say, string theorists (or those who more broadly specialize in quantum gravity) will be fairly low.
But the OP is not asking for the field of study that he/she should avoid. He/she is asking which one he/she should go into. There is a distinct difference.

The ebb and flow of which field is "hot" or will provide opportunities for employment once a student graduates depends on way too many factor, not the least of which is the whims of science funding by politicians. Who has the ability to predict that and to what level of accuracy?

Zz.
 
  • #32
StatGuy2000
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But the OP is not asking for the field of study that he/she should avoid. He/she is asking which one he/she should go into. There is a distinct difference.

The ebb and flow of which field is "hot" or will provide opportunities for employment once a student graduates depends on way too many factor, not the least of which is the whims of science funding by politicians. Who has the ability to predict that and to what level of accuracy?

Zz.
I think when questions like this get asked, there should be a reasonable expectation that the best any one of us can do is to give our own speculation based on current patterns in terms of demand for specific fields within physics (or science and technology more broadly), with the caveat that circumstances can change.
 
  • #33
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Has our ability to predict the future improved since last year?
Aren't we one year closer to it? :biggrin: (Strouse and Charnin notwithstanding)
 
  • #34
StatGuy2000
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But the OP is not asking for the field of study that he/she should avoid. He/she is asking which one he/she should go into. There is a distinct difference.

The ebb and flow of which field is "hot" or will provide opportunities for employment once a student graduates depends on way too many factor, not the least of which is the whims of science funding by politicians. Who has the ability to predict that and to what level of accuracy?

Zz.
BTW @ZapperZ, we need to be mindful of why these questions get asked.

We are expecting students to choose a major while pursuing their undergraduate degree college/university, which would take a minimum of 4 years (in the US and Canada -- anywhere from 3-5 years minimum elsewhere), and (if they intend to pursue graduate studies), take another 4-7 years or so to complete their PhD. That's anywhere from 8-12 years of their lives -- I don't think it's unreasonable to wonder whether such an investment will result in meaningful employment.

Otherwise, why bother? One could conclude that this is a waste of time and money.
 
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  • #35
ZapperZ
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BTW @ZapperZ, we need to be mindful of why these questions get asked. We are expecting students to choose a major while pursuing their undergraduate degree college/university, which would take a minimum of 4 years (in the US and Canada -- anywhere from 3-5 years minimum elsewhere), and (if they intend to pursue graduate studies), take another 4-7 years or so to complete their PhD. That's anywhere from 8-12 years of their lives -- I don't think it's unreasonable to wonder whether such an investment will result in meaningful employment.

Otherwise, why bother? One could conclude that this is a waste of time and money.
But this advice goes both ways! We need to be mindful of what we recommend and speculate! After all, one can easily lead a student into a field of study that will be does not lead to anywhere!

So take what you just wrote and apply it to those who seem to think they know what area of physics they like to recommend.

Zz.
 
  • #36
StatGuy2000
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But this advice goes both ways! We need to be mindful of what we recommend and speculate! After all, one can easily lead a student into a field of study that will be does not lead to anywhere!

So take what you just wrote and apply it to those who seem to think they know what area of physics they like to recommend.

Zz.
I agree. Consider what I wrote on post #32:
I think when questions like this get asked, there should be a reasonable expectation that the best any one of us can do is to give our own speculation based on current patterns in terms of demand for specific fields within physics (or science and technology more broadly), with the caveat that circumstances can change.
 
  • #37
ZapperZ
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I agree. Consider what I wrote on post #32:
And how many people in this thread who made such explicit recommendation of a field of study who made no such qualification, but you never jumped all over them? Instead, when one of us made the caution of why some of us refuse to do the same, you somehow are bringing up all theses excuses and caveats.

Zz.
 
  • #38
StatGuy2000
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And how many people in this thread who made such explicit recommendation of a field of study who made no such qualification, but you never jumped all over them? Instead, when one of us made the caution of why some of us refuse to do the same, you somehow are bringing up all theses excuses and caveats.

Zz.
@ZapperZ, I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to every single post in this thread (I work full-time and otherwise live a very busy life). And frankly, I am not a physicist so am not qualified to know whether specific research fields will likely lead to more opportunities.

Also, when I see people give specific explicit recommendations, I know implicitly that they are basing their recommendations on current patterns and are extrapolating into the future, with the caveat that things could change. Anyone who reads into this without knowing this -- well, that's their own fault!
 
  • #39
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how many people in this thread who made such explicit recommendation of a field of study who made no such qualification,
Part of the issue is that these threads are magnets for our junior high crowd. I have no idea why.
 
  • #40
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@ZapperZ, I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to every single post in this thread (I work full-time and otherwise live a very busy life). And frankly, I am not a physicist so am not qualified to know whether specific research fields will likely lead to more opportunities.
Then may I suggest that you don't take sides.

Zz.
 
  • #41
StatGuy2000
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Part of the issue is that these threads are magnets for our junior high crowd. I have no idea why.
Of course it is -- it's in junior high or high school that students are beginning to think of (a) whether to go to college/university, and (b) what to study if they do decide to go.
 
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  • #42
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I didn't mean asking advice...I meant providing advice.
 
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  • #43
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I didn't mean asking advice...I meant providing advice.
That is a mystery to me too.:confused:
 

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