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Why physics?

  1. Apr 5, 2006 #1
    I noticed a year ago that my local universities physics department had closed(due to lack of interest and funding issues) and that there was some talk of physics in decline. I'm not sure how accurate this was. I do know that in some areas there are serious shortages of physisists. Of course the employment market is about supply and demand so people are payed according to what the job market considers most valued. Which from what I've heard leaves physics in a rather less than commanding position on the pay scale.

    I also recently saw some US thing that showed some sort of scoring system for best and brightest students, I have no idea what it was based on or how it worked, SAT's, general testing entrance exams? But it was a scoring system, to be honest the The US system is a mystery to me, however the person who showed the particular link to me pointed out that the best and brightest(scorewise) went into physics followed by maths then engineering then history then I think it was philosophy or something like that.

    So the best and the brightest go into physics, my question is is their now any incentive to? Since your undervalued underpayed and more likely to be out of work unless you specialise in areas where their is a short fall? Now I'm a physics enthusiast and factors like pay and the job market mean nothing to me. Is their still abrain drain inot other areas? Or have the recent advances thrown up more career paths?

    My question is given the propoganda that I've heard that physics is underrated, why would anyone chose to be payed half as much as an engineer for what in all likely is just as much hard work?

    For example for me to take a part time physics degree I have to study two years of maths and then six years of a degree. If I wanted to study say Biology I'd do six years not 8? Now I'm not even tempted to chose another subject but I get the impression people are?

    In a simple question: why chose physics?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2006 #2
    feynman sums it up with the following quote:

    for "the pleasure of finding things out"
  4. Apr 5, 2006 #3
    I wonder however if when Feynman started his career financial considerations were an issue in his life? Not everyone has the luxury of doing what you love as a career. I'm sure most students would love to do say a PhD that takes them all round the world or whatever there personal dream of a job is. But I would imagine there are plenty of people doing degrees because it's of more about the practical than about personal fulfilment. I know someone who is doing a computing degree because he works with computers and is a whiz with them, he absolutely abhors working with computers though. Me I have a somewhat luckier in that I have the luxury of picking something that interests me most in that I am not bound by practical considerations(although I would like a career in physics) I wish everyone could but, if someone told you when you left degree A you'd struggle to find work and would be earning half of what the guy who did degree b earnt, I know a fair few peopele who'd think twice, which probably explains why there is such a demand for say Engineering courses, and a receeding demand for physics, as far as I'm lead to believe in my country, as I noted my information may be out of date.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2006
  5. Apr 5, 2006 #4
    Then there're those of us who are doing it for the chicks. :rolleyes:
  6. Apr 5, 2006 #5

    Because we enjoy it. Not everyone's life revolves around money, not everyone insists on maintaining a ridiculous standard of living. I have three basic needs: Food, a roof, and doing something I enjoy. I could be paid $20,000 a year and do that just fine. Even in California. But only if I'm doing physics.
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