Which Universities have the best graduate programs for theoretical physics?

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  • #1
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I'm an UG right now, but I plan on doing research in theoretical physics (probably particle physics. I want to work on finding a TOE. Possibly QM or QED instead). Which schools are best for these pursuits? Thank you.
 

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  • #2
malawi_glenn
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MIT I think ;-)
 
  • #3
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I don't think MIT is particularly strong in particle theory, particularly in comparison with its peers. Of course, it's hard to say who is the best for developing a "theory of everything" since one doesn't exist.
 
  • #4
malawi_glenn
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I was referring to top of the line mathematical physics. Particle theory is quite old, nowadays quantum gravity, string theory and geometrical methods of physics is what is in. And when it comes to that, I don't think any University can beat MIT, pehaps princeton and Berkeley (univ of california).
 
  • #5
Astronuc
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When looking for a university, or department, or professor, I recommend reading a leading journal in the particular field of one's interest, and look at who is publishing and of what institution they are a member.

I suspect one will find scores of universities.

I think it best to find a university that has mutually supportive theoretical and experimental programs.

Theoretical physics encompasses numerous areas, e.g. cosmology, astrophysics, particle physics, plasma physics, condensed matter physics, . . . .
 
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I think Astronuc gives some very good advice. It's also worth falling back on the old pre-web advice and ask the faculty of your college.

Glenn, I'm afraid that if you look at the theory papers in the 50 top citied articles in 2008, MIT isn't there. Or rather, the person who was at MIT isn't there any more. That's not to say it's not a good school - but it's not particularly stronger in theory than its peers.
 
  • #7
MIT does have many staff members working in many theoretical areas. There is a graduate who has a number of Tools (equations) for discovering the Theory of Everything. The graduate gives this set of Tools the mnemonic TTOE, Tools for defining TOE. More on this later.

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MIT does have many staff members working in many theoretical areas.
Of course. But that's a long way from saying that MIT is so strong in theoretical physics that the question "where should I go?" has a single answer.

There is a graduate who has a number of Tools (equations) for discovering the Theory of Everything. The graduate gives this set of Tools the mnemonic TTOE, Tools for defining TOE. More on this later.
I'm not impressed. Lots of people say they are going to find the Theory of Everything. How many have actually done it?
 
  • #9
One graduate has found TTOE, Tools to define TOE, the Theory of Everything. The grad has not found TOE, only key Tools.

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  • #10
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You keep talking about "the grad" in third person. Is he you? And did this grad graduate with a recent PhD in theoretical physics? If not, the experience isn't really relevant, is it?

Furthermore, how does one know if one has found "key tools" without seeing the project through to the end? One might just as well found a better path...to a dead end.
 
  • #11
I must say, I think that discouraging any genuine scientific pursuit of something that the field has been after for a very long time is a rather poor response to a new pragmatic minded person, interested in finding a new theory. And, I think to say that a TOE does not exist...is still something that has yet to be determined. Perhaps this Fizzicist will be the one to think far enough outside the box to find it.

As far as good theoretical physics/mathematics schools, here is a link to the a ranking list for Physics Undergrad Programs for 2009. Perhaps a good place to start, or get an idea of what shools could be a good fit for where you would like to go in the field:

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-physics-schools/rankings
 
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  • #12
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I want to work on finding a TOE.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfjWa6yW2mk"
I must say, I think that discouraging any genuine scientific pursuit of something that the field has been after for a very long time is a rather poor response to a new pragmatic minded person, interested in finding a new theory. And, I think to say that a TOE does not exist...is still something that has yet to be determined. Perhaps this Fizzicist will be the one to think far enough outside the box to find it.
I just think one should be careful in stating that they want to find a theory of everything. I think string theory is poor result of this type of pursuit when compared to the success of prediction of other physical theories. Relativity was a result of outside the box thinking, but even it was able to predict testable results.
 
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  • #13
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And, I think to say that a TOE does not exist...is still something that has yet to be determined.
No, it clearly doesn't exist. It may exist in the future but it doesn't now.

As for MIT, I maintain my position - a good school, but it's not substantially better at particle theory than its peers. The fact that someone graduated with a EE 56 years ago and now thinks he has (almost) developed a ToE says very little about it's physics department today.
 
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  • #14
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I am going to have say UofChica, Princeton and Berkeley. Particularly Berkeley.
 
  • #15
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What about Caltech?
If someone mentions "theoretical", "physics", and "graduate program" in the same sentence, I think of Princeton. I don't have particularly good reasoning for it, but I know Princeton's math department is world class and works hand in hand with their physics department. UChicago is very good, but located in a not so nice area...
 
  • #16
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What about Caltech?
If someone mentions "theoretical", "physics", and "graduate program" in the same sentence, I think of Princeton. I don't have particularly good reasoning for it, but I know Princeton's math department is world class and works hand in hand with their physics department. UChicago is very good, but located in a not so nice area...
Probably because of the "Advanced Institute of study"
 

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