Picking a Subfield

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ofey
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:59 pm

Picking a Subfield

Postby ofey » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:02 pm

I recently reinvigorated my interest in the really sexy fundamental physics stuff that drew me to the field in the first place. Particularly high level theoretical stuff like quantum gravity and dark matter. I'm actually going to be doing some work on a dark matter experiment next semester so maybe that would give me some good background to go into graduate work in that sort of field.

Just how impossible is it to get involved in these fields in a meaningful way. I know the odds of getting a job doing physics at a research school are like 1/5 to 1/10, but does that paint the whole picture? Are those people actually actively trying as hard as possible to get jobs, or do they figure it is a hopeless cause and not apply?

Right now I feel like I'd only want to do physics as a career if I am in one of the really fundamental fields, how do people typically reconcile this and end up in something like condensed matter?

How are thing different in observational astronomy? If I ended up going that route?

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grae313
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Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby grae313 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:54 am

ofey wrote:I know the odds of getting a job doing physics at a research school are like 1/5 to 1/10
probably a lot worse for theory.

First you will work 40-60 hours a week as a grad student, then you will work 50-70 hours a week at one to three post-docs, then you will work 70+ hours a week trying to get tenure, all so you can spend the rest of your career trying to get grant money. I chose condensed matter experiment because I think particle physics is boring, because I like building things, and because I want to work in industry 40 hours a week and get paid right off the bat. To each his/her own.

ofey
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby ofey » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:31 am

Hmm.... I think CM sounds like the most boring field(besides applied stuff), don't really like building things but still want to work a reasonable schedule and get paid. SOL I guess?

Grae did you start out interested in CM or develop an interest in it later?

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grae313
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Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby grae313 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:28 pm

Yes, my interest in physics has always stemmed from science's ability to make an impact on people's lives through technology and medicine. If it doesn't have an application I'm not interested in it. That's just me though :)

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby WhoaNonstop » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:34 pm

ofey wrote:Hmm.... I think CM sounds like the most boring field


Or the field where you don't rip your eyes out after a horrendous set of derivations.

-Riley

ofey
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby ofey » Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:45 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:
ofey wrote:Hmm.... I think CM sounds like the most boring field


Or the field where you don't rip your eyes out after a horrendous set of derivations.

-Riley


I don't get what you are referring to? I don't mean to put down CM, I just don't see myself finding it enthralling enough to pursue it for the length of a Ph.D. Maybe that is due to a lack of knowledge about it but I guess that is what I am trying to find out.

ofey
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby ofey » Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:49 pm

grae313 wrote:Yes, my interest in physics has always stemmed from science's ability to make an impact on people's lives through technology and medicine. If it doesn't have an application I'm not interested in it. That's just me though :)


It is. My interest in science is much more selfish- I just like to learn stuff about how the universe works because I'm not really sure what else in life is really worth doing...

I'm definitely a science for science's sake type guy. This may taint my view of certain fields. Do you think someone with that perceptive could find CM rewarding?

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Picking a Subfield

Postby WhoaNonstop » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:38 pm

ofey wrote:I don't get what you are referring to? I don't mean to put down CM, I just don't see myself finding it enthralling enough to pursue it for the length of a Ph.D. Maybe that is due to a lack of knowledge about it but I guess that is what I am trying to find out.


I was referring to my own personal opinion about other specializations in physics. I truly think all of physics is interesting, I just can't see myself dedicating my life to some of them, like you have mentioned about Condensed Matter.

Bottom line: Don't worry about the job opportunities after school. I think you must do what you enjoy the most. I think that type of mindset will never lead you astray.

-Riley




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