Fall 2007 Physics PhD Applicants Post Here

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Fall 2007 Physics PhD Applicants Post Here

Postby Daharoni » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:13 am

Hello everyone,
as many of you have realized there are no good physics application forums. I think there should be a place for us to post information and talk about applying for a physics PhD for the Fall 2007.

It is helpful to people if you post your stats and where you are applying... when colleges start sending out decisions you can update your posts.

I think a good format would be....

Type of school you went to for undergrad.
Degree received, GPA in major, overall GPA.

General GRE scores.
Subject (Physics) GRE score.

Department you are applying in like condensed matter or high energy or so on.

Any research experience: where and what field.

Any awards or honors.

Information about your letters of rec.

Lastly, a list of schools you are applying to.

I think this would be a great tool for us applicants.
Last edited by Daharoni on Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:39 am

I guess I will start us off.

I went to a large public university for undergrad. It is in the top 15 for Physics
B.S. in Physics, GPA in major: 3.9/4.0 , overall GPA: 3.9/4.0.

General GRE:
Q: 800
V: 550
W: 4.5
Physics GRE: Took it Nov 4th. Waiting to hear. Update : I got 840

Applying in condensed matter

I did a SURF at Caltech in a Condensed Matter group.

Awards:
JPL Undergraduate Scholar and Alexander Frolich Award for Excellence in Physics

Letter of Rec:
One is from the prof I did the SURF with.
One is from a prof at my school who is in condensed matter but doesn't really know me well.
One is from a high energy prof that knows me very well.

I am totally over doing it with the number of schools I am applying to but I am trying to get into the same school as my girlfriend and she is a Philosophy major. I guess the more the better (as long as my profs are willing to do all the letters of rec).

Harvard
MIT
Stanford
Berkley
UCLA
Princeton
Cornell
UCSD
Boston
Columbia
NYU
UCI
Yale
USC
Rutgers
UCSB

I am really hoping for UCLA and UCSB but they are long shots.
Last edited by Daharoni on Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rjharris
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 6:48 pm

Postby rjharris » Fri Nov 10, 2006 6:26 pm

Type of school:

Small technical / scientific school in Cambridge, MA.
S.B in Physics and Math. Math major, physics major GPA : 4.8/5.0, overall : 4.8/5.0

General GRE
800Q
630V
5.5 W

Subject GRE

Physics 990

Depts. applying to : Astrophysics, both experimental and theoretical, astronomy, high energy theory (maybe)

Research experience:

(all at MIT)

Same research job for ~ 1.5 years working on data analysis for RXTE All sky monitor. Periodicity detection in astronomical X-ray sources, periodicity modulation detection in the same.

Some theoretical work in binary star population synthesis working with a stellar evolution code.

Awards, honors:

So far, I have one ATel (astronomer's telegram) to my name, though I will have a paper and a thesis by the time I graduate (maybe I can put "in preparation" on my apps...)

Schools (physics unless otherwise noted):

MIT
Caltech
Berkeley
Harvard (astronomy)
Cornell
Princeton (astrophysical sciences) -- Accepted
U. Chicago (astronomy & astrophysics)
UCSB -- Accepted


maybe a couple of others.
Last edited by rjharris on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:50 pm

Wow, very impressive. You probably are not worried about getting in to the schools you want.

rjharris
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 6:48 pm

Postby rjharris » Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:03 pm

i am a bit worried because i've seen my friends get rejected from (numerous) schools, and i always think that I'm of comparable ability with them, so ya know.

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:48 pm

Large public university, Department of Physics and Astronomy located within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

BS in physics, minor in mathematics. GPA is 4.0/4.0 major and overall

General GRE scores:
Q: 780 (probably the only blight on my academic record thus far)
V: 610
Analytical Writing: 6.0

Subject (Physics) GRE score: took Nov. 4th exam, still waiting

Applying to a mix of plasma theory programs and high energy theory programs.

Any research experience:
Worked as a primary development technician for the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Arizona Biodesign Institute, developing a new form of hybrid atomic force microscopic imaging called SECM-AFM (Scanning ElectroChemical Microscopy). Cross-employed with Agilent Technologies.

Also won a 2006 US Department of Energy National Undergraduate Fellowship, which gave me the opportunity to do a research internship at MIT doing a mix of theoretical/computational/experimental work in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

Any awards or honors.
2006 DoE NUF, 2006 Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, APS-DPP outstanding undergraduate poster, and some departmental scholarships from my school

Information about your letters of rec.
one from my research mentor at MIT
one from my research mentor at Biodesign (he's also our schools most successful physicist)
one from the professor who has been advising me for 3 and a half years and also taught two of my courses (experimental condensed matter physicist)
one from a theoretical particle physicist who taught two of my math methods courses (i did extremely well in his classes), who also happened to be my upstairs neighbor for two years

Schools: I was actually told to cut my list of schools down, which was originally at 11 or 12...one of my professors thought it was way overkilling it...

Harvard
Stanford
MIT
Caltech
Columbia
Princeton
Berkeley
UCLA

I cut UCSD, U Wisc-Madison, and U Texas-Austin off my list, though I'm a little wary that I might make some systematic error in all of my applications that will uniformly blow my chances at all of the top programs. Luckily my recommenders have connections at MIT, UCLA, and Berkeley, so I'm feeling reasonably confident about those ones.

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:27 pm

edited
Last edited by artschoolapplicant on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:41 pm

edited
Last edited by artschoolapplicant on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Sun Nov 12, 2006 4:26 am

Why do you only want to apply to schools that start with an H?

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Sun Nov 12, 2006 3:59 pm

edited
Last edited by artschoolapplicant on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Sun Nov 12, 2006 4:19 pm

artschoolapplicant, that was a very entertaining post.

I got a question for everyone... what do we think is the most competitive field to apply under for physics?

I am thinking high-energy or condensed matter?

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:30 am

There's a ton of money in condensed matter and biophysics, but I assume they're also going to have a large influx of people as well, so it will be competitive regardless. I think high energy theory has to be extremely competitive...i liken it to rock and roll for the beginning guitarist--everyone wants to do it when they start, and a lot of them follow through and stay loyal to it until the end (i've been playing for 8 years, so i've been through this phase). I'm looking into plasma theory, high energy theory, and as of late i've also taken an interest in statistical physics and many-body theory. I fear in the first there won't be enough openings, in the second there will be too many people applying...the last one seems to be just right. One way or another, I'm covering a lot of angles and hopefully i'll have as many options as possible when next spring rolls around

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:30 am

If you are thinking about plasma physics UCLA is the place to go. I went there for undergrad and their plasma department is amazing. Great faculty and a lot of money.

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:32 pm

edited.
Last edited by artschoolapplicant on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Wanna Be Physicist
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:56 pm

Postby Wanna Be Physicist » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:33 pm

Wow you guys are impressive. Here's my meager stats.

Large "State" School In California.

I'm hoping to do research in Laser Physics or Quantum Optics.

GPA: 3.33/4.00
Q: 750
V: 570
W: 5.0
S: Waiting for results. (Think I got a mid 600).

Did a research project at Lawrence Livermore National Labs

2 Publications

Took 4 years off to serve in a Special Forces Unit and deployed to Iraq.

Applying to:
Arizona (Optics)
Oregon
Rochester (Optics)
Texas
Texas A&M
New Mexico
UC Davis (Applied Science)

As soon as I figure out what school I've been accepted to, I'm going to start studying for my quals.

I would love to be accepted to any of these schools, since my grades and test scores aren't that hot.

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:47 pm

Thanks Daharoni. UCLA is definitely on my list. Actually, at the APS DPP conference in Philly at the beginning of this month a theoretician named Frank Tsung tried to recruit me to work on wakefield accelerator theory at UCLA. I'm pretty gung ho about the whole fusion subject, but it is tempting because evidently there is still ample analytical work to be done in wakefield and laser/plasma theory, whereas plasma and fusion has matured to the point where much of the work has become numerical/computational. Needless to say, I'll be looking into it, though I'm not sure how living in LA's going to be (I'm a Phoenix native, lived here for 21 years, and I'm *trying* to get away from the whole polluted, congested metropolitan atmosphere, but I'll bite the bullet to go to a top school and work with a fantastic mentor).

unified physics
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby unified physics » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:44 pm

Small private University in Korea
B.S. in Physics and Mathematics, overall GPA 4.3/4.5

Q: 800
V: 710
W: ? (took general GRE on 10/27, should I have gotten this by now?)
Physics GRE: ?(took this on 11/04)

Applying to Particle / Astrophysics type departments.

Research experience: almost none
(This is probably where my admission will be hurt the most. My advisor was doing no research in our University so I had to sort of hang out and study with my friends in the only lab in our school where they were doing e-beam lithography)

Awards: none really
(Is receiving an award for being top in your class an award?)

Schools:
Stanford
Caltech
UC Berkeley
Univ. of Hawaii

I've been living away from the US for so long that I don't know much about graduate schools here (I just came back 3 months ago and I've been away for more than 13 years).

I have two questions that I would be grateful for any help with :D

1)
Am I supposed to apply for a Ph.D program on my applications?
As I understand it, in many schools, the Masters and Ph.D courses are sort of combined and there is no Masters given separately.
So I sould write that I'm applying for a Ph.D, yes?
(In Korea you don't apply for a Ph.D unless you have a Masters)

2)
You guys are applying to so many schools!!
Is this normal?
Should I be applying to more schools too?

ms_phd
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:12 pm

Try to post in it the website

Postby ms_phd » Tue Nov 14, 2006 12:04 pm


Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:31 am

Hey unified physics, yes you should write that you are applying for a PhD. In the USA, you do not need a masters first.

Secondly, I think the average number of schools people apply to is around 7 to 9.

unified physics
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby unified physics » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:02 am

Thank you Daharoni !
I'll definitely take this into consideration :D

narasimha
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:18 am

Postby narasimha » Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:53 am

Reputed Engg. college in India (goes by the name IIT Kharagpur)
Bachelor's in Mechanical Engg.
(could have taken a physics stream but i had to settle for this due to strange circumstances)

GRE general
Q:800
V:650
W:3.5 :(
S: Waiting...but am not going to get a score i think....

Research experience: in physics nil....did some theoretical and simulation related work in rotor dynamics....but thats not gonna help i guess....

Applying for Particle Physics related fields...

Schools:

haven't decicde as yet.....but i've earmarked the following....

caltech
u chicago
u wisconsin
u minnesota
u rochester
u texas austin
uiuc
johns hopkins
purdue
yale
u maryland
cornell
rutgers
u rice
tamu
u colorado
( i dont even know if these universities have proper particle physics programmes, god im pathetic)

pl i need help in choosing the correct universities. I know i don't belong to the top flight, so im looking at decent universities with a decent particle physics programmes. my undergrad gpa is 7.7/10 ( it is decent here )

Daharoni
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:49 am

Postby Daharoni » Sat Dec 02, 2006 3:59 pm

Alright, well the November Physics scores just came out... How did we all do? Update what you posted previously or add a new post.

I got 840, I am happy with that.

slee
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:10 pm

Postby slee » Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:26 pm

Type of school you went to for undergrad: technical/scientific
Degree received, GPA in major, overall GPA: physics, 5.0/5.0 in physics, 4.9/5.0 overall

General GRE scores. Q800 V710 W5.5
Subject (Physics) GRE score. 990

Department you are applying in like condensed matter or high energy or so on: astrophysics, hoping to do cosmology, CMB studies, or maybe instrumentation

Any research experience: where and what field: some gravitational lens work since freshman year - mostly computational modeling with Mathematica and LENSMODEL; took an observational astronomy class that met at a small observatory and did some binary light curve work for my semester paper; went on an observation run at a large observatory in Chile; did a summer internship at NASA GSFC working on some optical waveguide design. working on a paper analyzing some HST data of a lens, should be done or extended into a thesis next semesterish

Any awards or honors. nothing too specific; i've taken some grad QM, GR, and QFT, and CMB courses though if this gets me any points

Information about your letters of rec. one each from the professor i've done lensing work with, the postdoc i accompanied on the observation run, and my mentor at GSFC

Lastly, a list of schools you are applying to.

Harvard
Princeton - accepted 2/6, phone (astrophysical sciences department), fellowship offer
Cornell - accepted 2/5, package in mail and e-mail, fellowship offer
UPenn
UChicago - accepted 2/3, e-mail, TA/RA offer
Berkeley - accepted 2/26, e-mail, GSI (TA) offer + bonus
Caltech - accepted 1/27, phone (applied through physics specifying astrophysics, accepted through astro)
Johns Hopkins - accepted 1/26, e-mail, TA offer
and the NSF GRFP
Last edited by slee on Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:14 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Wanna Be Physicist
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:56 pm

Horrible Score

Postby Wanna Be Physicist » Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:30 pm

Well I got a 540 on the November test. I can't believe I did that badly.

This will definately put a dent my timeline.

I'm pretty distraught about this.

jdtoday
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:23 pm

Chances

Postby jdtoday » Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:25 pm

Hello all

GRE scores:
Quantitative - 800, Verbal - 620, Writing - 4.0
Physics - 950

Overall GPA - 4.0

Research experience - 2 years of computational biophysics

I am a senior physics/math double major at a tier 4 public university in the south.

I am applying to PhD physics programs (specifically in condensed matter/biophysics):

UChicago
Princeton
MIT
UC - Santa Barbara
Michigan
McGill

I am also applying for
NSF GRFP
Hertz Fellowship (made it to round 2 so far - there are 3 rounds in application process)

What are my chances of admission?

A scientific southerner

Nirf
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 1:36 am

Postby Nirf » Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:22 am

I haven't written the general GRE, but based on practice i expect around 800 650, and ditto for the Physics GRE i expect around 900. My GPA is 3.8 or something like that because i've had to take lots of dumb courses that lower my average (like bio) but I have 95's or so in all my physics courses. I'm at the university of toronto, which is a very big school. My degree is in Engineering Science, Physics option but the last couple of years I've barely done engineering courses, just physics and math.
Although for the record, the engineering stuff helps tremendously on the physics GRE. The circuit problems which i suspect a lot of physics people never study were peanuts to someone with an extensive circuit background, and I've also done classical thermodynamics (rather than just statistical like most physicists) which helps as well.

Applying to general theory. Research experience: in theoretical condensed matter physics with a professor here, in nanotechnology (department of electrical engineering) with another prof, and finally I'm doing an undergraduate thesis in mathematical thesis on optical bistability. The condensed matter physics stuff ended up getting published (with me as second author). My reference letters are the condensed matter prof, the thesis prof, and a prof who's class I did well in (yeah, i didn't have a good third reference. The nano stuff didn't work out so hot).

Applying: only to a handful of schools. MIT, Caltech, Harvard, Columbia. Maybe another one. I want to go on the east coast if possible so I don't have to get a plane ticket every time i want to visit my parents. Caltech i made an exception for because a lot of people think it's the best right now. I'm not applying to too many schools, because frankly if the competition is so tough that i get rejected from more than 4 schools, i think you just have to admit to yourself that you're not really good enough. There's nothing worse than being a second rate physicist; you're probably one of the most underpaid people (relative to intelligence) around, and you don't even have substantial accomplishments to compensate. This is why I'm strongly considering selling out into math finance.

Actually, know that I'm on the topic, I'm curious to see what people on this forum say. You guys have probably read physics papers and done some research and realize that the majority of physics going on is very boring and very marginal (i.e. they are examining very specific specialized stuff, not so much even doing new physics as applying what's been done to new problems). This probably sounds harsh, but pick up an actual physics journal and just start reading articles. They're brutal to read. I think personally that some kind saturation point in physics has been reached. We have about 10 times too many (at least) people going into physics grad school. 1/10 is about the fraction of people on this board that will ever become tenured profs even assuming that they finish grad school. How do people here who seem super keen on physics grad school feel about this? Are you just counting on yourself being smarter than the next guy to get somewhere? Or do you just love the stuff so much you can't see yourself doing anything else?

I don't get it. I've come across posts of people who answered like 40 out of 100 questions on the physics GRE, people who seriously want to do grad school. I hate to sound brutal, but how do you figure to make an original contribution when there are so many people out there, competition is so fierce, and you can't even do half decently on a simple test?

Sorry to come out with a bit of a rant, I just want to hear responses because I would like to see what people say; if it resonates with me maybe I'm one of you, if it doesn't then maybe i don't belong with all these people applying for grad school in physics.

pascal
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 5:19 pm

Ranting, raving...and realism

Postby pascal » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:11 am

Nirf, I can relate to what you're saying to a large extent. I grew up in a small podunk Iowa town where I was the smartest in my class, and then I enrolled at a small liberal arts school in Indiana, where I am also relatively exceptional. Of course, the bubble had to burst some time, and it happened this past summer when I worked an REU at the University of Colorado. There's nothing like being in a room full of physicists to make one feel very average, very fast. I'm thinking about graduate school, definitely, but I am also considering medicine (a field I always planned to go into growing up, but forsook after enjoying physics so much late in high school). I'll be taking the coming year off and hopefully going over to Asia (gotta live it up while we're young!), and hopefully that will give me some time to think about what to do with my life. I'm applying to a few grad schools this year just to see how competitive I am, but I won't be accepting any offers. I agree that being a second-rate physicist would be fairly depressing, if one went into the field with high aspirations for research. I think if I do go to grad school, it will be with the intention of landing a primarily teaching position at a smaller university/college, rather than slaving away to put out 100 papers that 50 people will read. Anyway, I didn't intend to be so depressing--just to let you know that there are others in the same boat as you. Good luck with your grad school apps, and your career in general!

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:01 am

Nirf,

I understand your qualms about going into a field dominated by uber-intelligent, underappreciated individuals, where even the relative "underachievers" could go on to other fields and dominate. I'll share with you my personal philosophy, so perhaps it may cast a fresh light on the subject. I came into college as an engineer, I originally wanted to do meteorology as an adolescent but dropped it when I naively assumed the job market was so dry that I'd wind up working the midnight shift at the national weather service office in wyoming. I switched *into* engineering based on worries about the job market and being a marketable college graduate; I knew I'd be good at it, but I wasn't very enthusiastic about it. Toward the end of my freshman year I got disenchanted with it and wound up transferring into kinesiology at my school with the intention of going on and getting a doctorate in physical therapy. I did this because I thought that rather than spending my life taking orders from a superior and making some large corporation money I would be better fit helping individual people straighten their lives out and somehow improve the quality of life for as many people as I could. Well, within a month of switching my major I had the "physics epiphany" after reading through a book by Hawking for an honors course I was taking and considering the fact that despite my mathematical aptitude, I'd never do it again if I continued down the road to physical therapy school.

After going through the undergraduate curriculum, suffering through it at times, I gained the same love for the unique world view that one obtains by "stepping into the light" that many other physics majors tout--physicists see the world with an eye for detail and appreciation for complexity that nobody else seems to have the time or insight to develop. Beyond the attitude, I see physics as a science that has done more in the past for our society than any other fundamental science, and I still see the potential for it to do much good in the future. When you talk of the "second-rate physicist" toiling over a multitude of papers that few will take the time to read, I like to believe that those papers serve some purpose. Perhaps some physics is extraneous and purely whimsical, but you might consider that the small group of people exchanging papers back and forth might be working toward some larger common goal.

With regards to my own career, my mindset has extended itself into two branches. I want to spend my career endeavoring along a pathway in physics from which I feel I can make a significant difference for as many others as possible. Physical therapy didn't offer this for me...helping people one at a time for the rest of one's life isn't nearly as effective or satisfying as doing something that will ultimately affect the world. One of my primary prospective career paths right now is in theoretical plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion. I see energy as one of the two critical fields contributing to the bulk of our collective crises today (the other is health, while the environment sort of pervades all of it). While there are certainly other branches of science that will undoubtedly make contributions to both fields (health and medicine in particular), I feel that given my talent and love for a science that few would enjoy, my time will be best spent toiling away at the critical issues that few have the intellectual resources or stamina to tackle. It's funny how many physicists LOVE physics, to the point of obsessing over it day in and day out, and the fact that ANY good can come from it is icing on the cake. To them it's not just a job and a salary and a way to pass time...it's an adventure, it's a challenge, it's exciting, regardless of how dull it may appear to an outsider, or even another physicist.

My other motivation is my own intellectual fulfillment, and for that reason, I am rather "selfishly" considering high energy theoretical physics as well, a field which will likely offer little to the human race besides some very potent and magnificent knowledge. I think this sentiment inspires many to go into physics, as there really is no other physical science that is quite so mathematical, self-consistent, and well-structured.

So you're right, the physics world is being bombarded with incoming young people right now, but from what I've been told by my research mentor at MIT, the "saturation" in the market is the 50-65 year old demographic. Presuming our post modern society continues to display its affinity for technological advancement, there will be many open spots to fill up in the coming years. If you are one who is motivated by recognition and material payoff, then perhaps physics isn't right for you (unless, as you say, you're one of the baddest ass physicists around). But if your desires are more centered on challenging yourself intellectually and providing your say to a scientific pursuit that has the capability of changing our current paradigm and helping out a score of people, and if your primary concerns are *who* will be reading your papers and *who* you'll be able to collaborate with rather than *how many* people will read your papers and *how many* you'll have to compete with in the job market, then physics could be a good match for you. Of course, one could have these same motivations and find it perfectly reasonable to pursue some other science, in which case I say go for it. Someone's gotta do the chemistry, someone's gotta do the biology and pharmaceutacology, and yes, someone has to do the inane semiconductor research and try to squeeze another 0.2GHz out of a microprocessor (sorry to hate on the solid-staters), but if you find that boring then that's obviously not your field. But wouldn't you want that faster computer? Project yourself a few decades down the road and consider what you'd like to be able to call yourself an expert in. If you have benevolent tendencies, then consider what you think to have the largest potential to impact those around you, and go for it. You're obviously intelligent, so do the research and the footwork and help propel our collective sophistication forward...and if you're looking for input, my bias is toward energy and the environment and the squelching of all of our communal "bad habits" that are slowly destroying our quality of life, so feel free to start up a discussion on another thread if you wanna throw some philosophical ideas around.
Last edited by schmit.paul on Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

somebody
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:25 pm

Postby somebody » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:04 am

nirf
to answer you're last question, it was only a few weeks ago when I started reading this board that I realized I wasn't nearly as smart or competitve as i thought i was. i goto a medium sized (around 3000 students) liberal arts school and there are only a few other physics majors most of which barely pass the classes and I get *mostly* A's, and most of my friends are idiot business or humanities majors who get drunk 3-4 nights a week and many of which barely manage 2.0's and they hold me up as some sort of genius who gets A's in hard science classes. so pretty naturally i develop a pretty high intellectual ego. my father and uncle who are both engineers for defense contractors gave me the idea that there is actually a shortage (haha) of american students in science graduate programs (maybe this is true for engineering programs and they just extrapolated to physics). so i said to myself, "hey i like physics, i'll goto grad school," and thats sort of been my plan for after graduation since sophomore year. ive been doing research since the summer after my sophomore year, for a while I thought that would give me a "leg up" on the competition, but I found out a few weeks ago its pretty much MANDATORY for applying. i also figured that anything over 50th percentile on the GRE's would be pretty good because of that shortage (haha) of american applicants (i scored around a 650 on the practice test i took, i think i did better on the real test i took saturday but maybe not because the practice test i took was the one from '96 where a raw score of 30 was a 700 or something). anyway, while i was studying for the tests i found my way to this board about a month and realized that my 3.8 upper level physics/math gpa is actually horrible and my gre scores probably won't be anything special (since i'm from a small school with no graduate physics program this board was really my first insight into graduate physics application process and requirements). so thats basically my life story and why i thought i was a good candidate for grad school.

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:16 am

somebody,

i hear you on the underachieving friends surrounding you day in and day out. I go to one of the largest public universities in the US, and minimalism runs rampant around here. However, it makes it all the more satisfying when I stumble across people with mindsets similar to mine, and nearly euphoric when I get a chance to see a place like MIT (where i did my summer research) where EVERYONE is intelligent and insightful. granted, I'm sort've glad I got my "social training" at a large "party school," and I hope it will not hold me back in the graduate admissions process, but I am really looking forward to getting to an institution where people are a little less shallow and capricious and a little more vocal about stuff that actually matters. There are only so many weekends I can tolerate recounting "how drunk we all got last weekend and how stupid that one thing this one dude did was."

rjharris
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 6:48 pm

3.8 horrible?

Postby rjharris » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:12 am

so maybe i'm a little bit put on the defensive since it has been said that a 3.8 is horrible and i have a 4.8/5.0 (same thing), but I feel like it's probably not. for instance, graduate students in princeton's astrophysics program have an average of 3.8 gpa. why do you think its horrible? if it's because its on this website, i feel like there's a bit of a selection bias there towards higher self-reported gpas on this website... just a theory though.

somebody
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:25 pm

Postby somebody » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:34 am

i was being more sarcastic than anything, basically what I meant was that having a 3.8 is nothing special and there are alot of people out there with perfect gpa's, i honestly entered college with the idea that a attaining a 4.0 gpa throughout 4 years was a pretty unrealistic goal especially as a science major and i don't know anyone personally that has one...i was just sort of illustrating my shock when i first came to this board and saw that there are alot of people (seems like most who post here) with perfect or near perfect gpa's

rjharris
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 6:48 pm

Postby rjharris » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:38 am

I see. Sorry about my somewhat defensive reply. Just that I happened to be working on my personal statement for Harvard astro, and it was a bit worrying when I saw something that i thought said (in earnest) that my gpa was crap :P

That said, I'm pretty sure the posts on this website are due (in some degree) to a selection effect. People with 4.0 are gonna post, people with a 2.2 might not. Just how it goes. Good luck with your applications (everybody).

artist
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:20 am

Postby artist » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:54 pm

Physics GRE: 720 (63 percentile)
Verbal: 450
Quantitative: 770
Analytic: 5.0
Physics/math GPA: 3.8
Total GPA: 3.0

Current school: Large state university.
Letters of recommendation from: Professors that I don't know very well.
Research experience: None.

Applying to:

Illinois
Wash U (accepted!)
Rice
USC
Oklahoma

For: Condensed matter theory or condensed matter experiment.
Last edited by artist on Thu Feb 08, 2007 5:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Nikky
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:43 am

experiment vs theory

Postby Nikky » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:35 pm

Could you give me some advise on the differences between applying for experiment or theorey? How much more gre phys score would be expected for theory than experiment.? What score would be needed for top 5 schools? Is the chance much bigger applying for experiment? Can we switch bet. experiment to theory after admitted? Thanks

PhotonGas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:32 pm

Postby PhotonGas » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:11 am

In general it can be very difficult to switch between theory and experiment in some of the smaller programs not as much. The problem is fourfold: 1 - money, 2 - supervisors, 3 - research, 4 -undergraduate experiance

The first problem - money: the programs to which you have entered as an experimentalist have funded your tuition at the gradutate school to which you enroll. The funding for you has been allocated to the specific group to which you are assigned. Switching becomes a berucratic mess, I know when I in grad school at MIT four years ago one of my buddys there had a horriable experiance with switching into my theory group, it wasted two years and he had to pay his own tuition for a year: thats 40K!

The second - supervisors: if you switch programs you have to switch supervisors, this necessitates convincing an overworked, grad student heavy theorist that they want to work with you (completely with out the support of you grad application).

The third - research: if you are an experimentalist you are assigned to work as a lab assistant with a group. To switch to theory you have to become a TA, this means getting the permission of the group that brought you in and is funding you to leave and go to another group, when they are getting the benefit of your very cheap labor.

The last: if you have been prepairing to do theory and have no experimental reserch experiance it can be a big problem, big enough to get you rejected. Alternitly if you have experimental reserch it looks better because grad schools know undergrads can do real experimental research, but also know that undergraduates usually don't have the prepairation to do theory.

Good luck in applying, just say what you want to do, in the admissions committies I have been on we've looked at all the applications (the whole darned thing). The scores are important, yes but so is your undergraduate education, your GPA and your letters, and your statement.

mathlete
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:22 am

Postby mathlete » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:24 am

PhotonGas

That seems pretty silly to me. As undergrads we don't get much exposure to different fields and stuff like that... sure, you know some things, but you're telling me if I apply thinking I like something and find out I don't a month after I've been admitted (and haven't worked with anyone) that I won't be able to change and am stuck with something for the rest of my life because I put it on my graduate application? Hrm.

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:01 am

mathlete and nikky,

It's going to vary from program to program. For instance, I believe it is Stanford that has a research rotation, where you work in a number of research groups on regular intervals throughout your first couple years of graduate school. This exposes you to many possible avenues before you truly must commit to one. Also, some specific programs within physics departments at a number of schools are only going to accept you if you appear totally committed (if you want to do plasma physics at MIT, for example, they only admit the most dedicated of individuals, as I've been told by plasma faculty at the school)...however, other subfields in the very same programs could be much more understanding of your limited knowledge of the rigors associated with various subfields coming into grad school. Unfortunately, a question as general as "Can we switch bet. experiment to theory after admitted," without specifying the specific program and subfield, warrants no generally accurate response. You will have to do the footwork yourself by talking to faculty and grad students at each institution to which you plan to apply if you are truly concerned about this issue.

Nikky
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:43 am

EVERYONE!

Postby Nikky » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:04 am

Thanks for the informations. I might want to contact schools about this. I know I want to go more on theory than experiment but I guess I don't have gre physics competitive enough (slightly higher than 900), so I feel safer to apply experiment.

PhotonGas
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:32 pm

Postby PhotonGas » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:11 am

I do agree with schmit.paul that these things are going to vary from program to program. I also think mathlete is right to be wary. However, I am just warning that the experiment/theory switch is particuarly hard (as far as I have seen and heard). The bottom line of course is that you can probably doing whatever physics you want wherever you want if you are dedicated enough, perhaps through alternate channels like going and taking grad classes from the professors you want at the school you want or getting hired as a reserch intern for a year in the group you want. So if you want to do physics somewhere with someone, you will almost undoubtably be able to do so. But using false pretences is probably not the best method of getting into the program you want, and it can leave you in a pickle. I wish you the best of luck.

PS that score is competitive, contact a professor with whom you want to work and you'll get in no problem :D

schmit.paul
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:48 pm

Postby schmit.paul » Tue Dec 05, 2006 4:31 am

yeah nikky, you're way good on physics GRE, so don't be bashful and go for what you want, but if you don't think YOU are competitive enough to do theory, then gre's should not be your biggest concern. Your application WILL be looked at by any admissions committee because your test score is well above any cutoff they might have in place to filter the first round of apps, so it's time to start considering how you plan to sell yourself to the admissions committees based on all of your other, non-standardized-test-based merits. Good luck, and go for it.

tnoviell
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:31 am

Postby tnoviell » Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:58 pm

I really hope the sentiment isn't sincere that people with less-than-average GRE scores, GPA, and things like that shouldn't apply to graduate school or get into graduate school. I feel it's very unfortunate that they put such strict guidelines, because anyone can make a contribution or come up with a unique idea - do not put yourself on a pedestal because your credentials may be higher than another. You can have a flawless record but that isn't paying any due to your creative powers.

I usually never post here but this needed to be said. It's very disappointing when an obviously bright human being feels it necessary that everyone should be on his/her plane of achievement. Do yourself a favor and realize that life isn't about becoming a tenured professor, or making money, but we endure the torment of being a science major to make some sort of contribution to society. Whether we go on to be high school teachers, peons working in a lab taking orders from superiors, or being Nobel prize winners - we are all the same and attempting to make an impact. Never forget that.

ms_phd
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:12 pm

Postby ms_phd » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:42 pm

There are bunch of physics applicants at http://applycorner.com/graduateschool

artist
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:20 am

Postby artist » Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:04 pm

Hear hear, tnoviell.

appliedphysgirl
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:27 am

to tnoviell

Postby appliedphysgirl » Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:45 am

tnoviell, you are absolutely right. I am glad you decided to post your comment. I hate when people think they are better than others just because they went to x school or when they start criticizing other people's research. I have met several physicists that judge other people based on where they work or how many papers they have published. But, like you said, we all want the same thing, which is to contribute to the field. Moreover, I do not think you should judge success based on whether you won a Nobel prize since that many times is not fair. I say the key to being successful is to stop comparing oneself with other people and do the best one can. thanks again, your comment is very refreshing. something we don't hear enough in this forum.

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:05 am

Nirf:

You may have asked your question hypothetically, but I'd like to answer it explicitly, if you don't mind.

Before I begin a lengthy tirade, let me give a bit more background about myself than what is included above. I started studying physics (and science and math, for that matter) eight months ago. I go to a small school.

If the University of Toronto is a verdant field bursting forth with physics knowledge and laboratories, my school is at best a squat, fallow little weed at the edge of that field, clutching nimbly to a tired post (when it comes to physics).

I just got my GRE Subject score back. Low. Very low. Decidedly not Stanford material (now if only I could figure out what Stanford material IS -- maybe Stanford is made of some kind of cheese -- Gruyere, no doubt, if the gods are smiling).

I would not say I am blithely unconcerned about the ramifications of my GRE Physics score being "the suck" as the waifish children are so wont to say these days. I would say this:

"Have you EVER studied ANY physics history or culture?"

No really.

I'll remit my readers the tale of the Swiss patent clerk. There are much better counterexamples raging through my mind.

So there was this woman who with her physics degree couldn't get a job at Columbia or any other respectible university, so she had to teach at this dingy little liberal arts school and go do that scourge of mankind the "very specific specialized stuff" of "applying old ideas to new problems." Whatever happened to her?

Too old an example, not current enough?

So there was this guy who liked the idea of being mixed up in the political milieu. He graduated from his small liberal arts college without a science degree of any kind. He went and worked on political campaigns for a bit. Then he wanted to do physics. Too late, right?

And Nirf, let me give you a cursory disproof of what you're tacitly implying: that being at the very forefront of public attention and renown in physics somehow makes one's life "good."

Ehrenfest.

(Specifically, go look at what happened towards the end of his life.)

The great, looming, deities of physics lore didn't arise from the firmament whole and spouting useful equations. They also didn't crumble back into the firmament that way either (go see what Newton, Einstein, and Feynman did with the latter third of their lives).

I could go on with examples, but to do so would betray my own belief, which is that IT STOPPED BEING SUFFICIENT TO HAVE ONE PERSON WORKING ON A PROBLEM TO GET IT SOLVED ABOUT 2500 YEARS AGO.

You want your name attached to some sly equations? Get a publicist. You want a bliss-filled life? Find a guy/girl/goat/job/belief that really makes you happy. (Oh, and there's this really new faddish book out about why being clever might not be enough for happiness. It's called the Odyssey.)


But really, I'm no one in particular. Well, actually I am. I'm particularly that person who didn't get "forty" questions right on my GRE Physics. You can safely ignore me.

I'll be here, at my computer, twiddling my thumbs over a redraft of this trashy article I'm revising about an OLD METHOD being applied to some NEW AREA.
Ya know, it's really too bad I don't have some godsend physicist around who could have just theorized her or his way around the 1500 plus hours of data collection and mathematical analysis I did to succeed in obtaining a description of a chemical process no one has been able to characterize at the nanoscale before. No really. I'm guessing all the other groups that published null results in my area were just too bored to think up new ways the reaction could be taking place. OLD THEORY to NEW SYSTEM (with modifications). yawn.

I mean, what I'm doing is just SO USELESS. I am actually totally embarrassed thinking of all the undergraduates who will pick up a journal, and find this, my meager, spiritless attempt to elucidate one more piece of materials science. I mean why don't I just cut to the chase already and formulate a comprehensive theory of everything BEFORE I study it in detail, tweak perceptions about it, find oddities, irregularities, abnormalities, bumps, test new hypotheses, then revise revise revise?

I mean really!

What we should do is this. Let's get all the supa-chill, fast thinking, butt-kicking super-thinkers. I know! Let's get everyone who scores a 900 or above on the GRE! Let's obliterate the labs, and all those desperate, puling clingers-on who got an 890 or lower.

Then let's put all that extra money into publishing a yearly, compact, gold-embossed Physics Bible written only by The Elect 900's, purveyors of wisdom, masters of the infinite. Whatever those special few write will be the sole word and solemn prophesy that we, the beleagured small-brains, will take great care to inscribe fervently on our fibrillating hearts.

Then again, maybe the 2nd tier grad school Einstein got into was the only one teaching the useless, "old theory" Maxwell's equations.

Hmm.

Seriously, Nirf. I bear you no ill-will. I really hope you find what you're looking for. And if physics really catches you, and you think you have something to contribute, I really hope you don't let contrived tests or the fear of not making enough to bump it in a Hummer, hold you back. (On the other hand, if bumping it in a Hummer is more important, I honestly respect that. Go for it. I must admit, it's tempting to me. Why slave over the texvn(Greek) when I can reap its benefits?)

I await the the tumbling avalanche of rejection letters with bushido pleasure (And hope that at least one accepts. If not, it's off to post bacc. for me.).
Last edited by artschoolapplicant on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

Nirf
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 1:36 am

Postby Nirf » Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:34 am

arts school applicant,

I assure you that I have studied physics history or culture. And no offense, I am forced to claim a better knowledge of it than you. You might have more dates or more facts or more persons memorized, but without knowing the actual physics of it you have no choice but to subscribe to romanticized, populist notions of what physics is all about. It's like claiming you can understand hacker culture without having done some hacking or at least having extensive exposure (btw, I have NOT done this and I do not claim to, this is just an example). No offense, but 8 months of physics is peanuts.

Your not so subtle example of Einstein is a perfect example. Everyone loves repeating how Einstein got poor marks in high school, didn't speak until late, etc. It was known that Einstein was very bright, even in high school. Einstein was already playing around with world class ideas (although he did not yet have the training to do something rigorous with it) even then. Yes, he was working as a patent clerk, but he already had his physics PhD. On top of all this, Einstein did something in physics which may never be duplicated ever again in the sense that he was by far the greatest physicist since Newton, incomparably so. Einstein who received just one Nobel Prize, probably deserved 3-5.
As for the other two examples, I'm not sure who you're referring to. Is the second Benjamin Franklin? I mean really, you have to give better hints.

I think you're completely missing the point. The point is that the people who have made major contributions in physics, were all incredibly bright and creative. And most of this is in the past when many less people were studying physics then now. Right now physics sucks up many of the brightest and most creative people from around the country. Even believing you're bright enough to do detail work is quite a statement, believing you can really change stuff requires tremendous self confidence. Your sentence about the "bliss-filled" life is pretty funny too. You don't understand: this is about finding a job that makes you happy. Most people however associate accomplishment and achievement with happiness. It's important to people to feel like they've done something. I don't want to lie on my deathbed thinking that I published a handful of meaningless articles, and this is what I did every day.

I could safely ignore you regardless of how many problems you got right on the GRE's. That has nothing to do with it. But getting that on the physics GRE proves that either: a) You haven't taken the relevant physics courses, b) You didn't learn anything in the relevant physics courses, c) Your analytic thinking skills are mediocre, or d) there were some exceptional circumstances. If a) is true, well you should think about another year of physics before you jump off to study physics in grad school because you don't know anything about it. if b) or c) are true, you clearly have some problems in going to grad school anyhow. If d) is true, well then that was probably worth mentioning.

I'm not surprised you only started studying physics 8 months ago. You're much better at sarcastic, pseudo-intellectual writing style then you are at logical discourse. Hopefully for you, that will change. There's really no need to magnify you're accomplishments (whatever they might be) in such a ridiculous fashion. Really, we're all intelligent here. We understand. If you claim to bear me no ill will, don't speak to me in a ridiculous, condescending fashion.

I will add for my part that I was primarily talking about theory. Experiment requires many more man hours and (frankly) less brains, so it makes sense to have more people doing it. Just to clarify.

What's ridiculous about your "accomplishment" though, is that you don't understand that very likely at most 5 people will read your paper. I used to think as well, that no matter what I do, as long as I publish it I'm contributing to human knowledge, right? Then I started to find out that typically, nobody reads each others journal articles. I mean, "nobody" sounds ridiculous, people are still reading 5 or so papers for each one they write. But imagine if literature was like that. Each person wrote a book for each 5 they read. There would be a lot of worthless crap out there. 5:1, as a ratio of read to written is not a lot. Physics is drowning itself in a flood on publications, because all these profs need to keep making publications to keep tenure and all these magazines need to keep publishing something to justify their existence. And since the people who pay for it are completely clueless in any case (government, the public) the system works out great.

I really do think you missed the point of everything I wrote. Having a score of 900 doesn't prove anything. The physics GRE (sadly) cannot prove anything positive about someone, only something negative. Maybe your problem is that you've never been made to feel stupid first hand. Have you ever talked with someone that was always 5 steps ahead of you solving every problem, asking questions, figuring out angles, making realizations, etc etc. Maybe you haven't because you're from a small school. I've encountered people like that at UoT, and it made me realized that if you sum up all the schools in the world and take all those people, there's a shitload of people going into physics that are just plain much better than I am. It has nothing to do with contrived tests. It has to do with being second-rate in a field where being second-rate sucks. I don't mind sacrificing the Hummer to really push the frontiers of human knowledge, but sacrificing the Hummer to watch other people do it?

If you just really love physics so much and you can't see yourself doing anything else, then by all means go for it. Clearly you have some justification for your lousy physics GRE score, although I'm still not sure what it is. Fortunately you're in a field where you can get a salary for accomplishing something that almost nobody even in your community regards as being of significant value. So that should help you out.

If you really can't see where I'm coming from still, I suggest you try and see if you have any friends who were the stars of their high school, or even varsity teams and ask them if they were trying to go pro. A lot of them (the smart ones) don't ever bother really trying. You know why? Because they know that in all likelihood they're not good enough, and they don't want to screw everything up on that chance. Physics is the same way. Yeah, you never know "for sure" what you have to contribute until you try. But you have a pretty good idea. And you only have one life to gamble with.

(PS if you don't think the consequences of going into physics and not "making the cut" can be severe, then i suggest you read on what a lot of physics PhD's end up doing after their degree... scary stuff like teaching at community college or high school, i.e. unable to do research or do something you can enjoy, and never making it as tenured profs).

PPS If you started studying any form of math, physics, and science 8 months ago... then you know nothing. Don't take it the wrong way, but you know nothing. Seriously, what do people study in their first 8 months? First year calculus, Newton's Laws? Almost everyone here has been doing this for 3-4 years, they've all spent summers in research, they've all been immersed in this for quite a long time. You're quite clueless.

PPPS And your article has been accepted for publication, where, exactly?

aquarius
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:45 am

Postby aquarius » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:19 am

Went to ENS Lyon, a top 2 school of physics in France
MSc in Plasma physics, GPA : 2.7

General GRE scores. Q : 800
V : 620
AWA 5.0

Subject (Physics) GRE score : 990

Applying to Electrical engineering

3 summer internships in various fields

Any awards or honors : none, france is very stingy for awards, even the first of ENS Ulm (the 1st school in france) has no award at all

3 recommenders, 1 in Berkeley, 2 from Paris Dauphine

Applying to
Berkeley
Stanford
MIT
Caltech

Cheers

artschoolapplicant
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:44 pm

Postby artschoolapplicant » Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:27 am

Nirf:

I'm not interested in a flame war over this issue, so I'm removing most of my posts and conceding the field to you (well the field of this forum, anyway).

Before I do I'll say only a few things, because then I'm going to go back to studying.

The guy who took up physics a few years after a non-scientific undergrad was Edward Witten.

The woman who couldn't get a job was Maria Goeppert.

These of course do not indicate that people who start out not knowing a lot of physics or being successful are necessarily going to be so later, but they provide a counterexample to the idea that someone can be judged on future achievement by current achievement, even in physics.

Your ad hominem attacks (the constant repetition of "you're clueless") show a distinct lack of the logical discourse you would claim. Ditto your assumption that I can't know anything about physics after eight months (after multivariable and linear, it all sorta works). Maybe I'm one of those people who you thought were always five steps ahead of you. Maybe I'm a blubbering idiot-child. You've hardly seen enough of me to judge.

Varsity and pro sports can't contribute piecemeal to future understanding in physics, which can be subtle, grueling, and long. That analogy is flawed.

If I really thought that only five people read the articles and that nothing comes of them, I would never get into this field. But your remarks would apply a hundred-fold to say, Hegelian philosophers. Why do they keep at it? The point is that the people who study those things and these things in a serious and rigorous way find them captivating for what they are, and don't generally get widespread recognition and acclaim. Could it be that the five people who read these articles are the five people able to utilize the knowledge they contain?

Above, you asked how anyone could possibly expect to make it in the physics arena when they "can't even do ok on a simple test." That's a pretty bold asseveration to be flinging around in front of aspiring physicists, ESPECIALLY if you are one. My reply was for the most part farcical, because I too am an aspiring and not professionally inveterate physicist.

Really, I do wish you success in whatever you choose. I don't think you need to be as hard on yourself/physics as you are. Take care, all!

narasimha
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:18 am

Help Needed

Postby narasimha » Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:49 am

Hi all,

I desperately need help. I am interested in applying for particle physics programmes but i did mechanical engineering in my under-grad.

I want to know whether i have a chance of getting admitted or not. Please help. I wasted three days thinking over this thing and I'm becoming restless.




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