Theoretical versus Experimental

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theoretical_phys
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:16 am

Theoretical versus Experimental

Postby theoretical_phys » Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:51 am

Several times on this forum, I have read that potential graduate students in hopes of going into theoretical physics need to perform better on the Advanced GRE and make better grades than experimentalists. Also, it has been mentioned that theorists may not need as much undergraduate research as experimentalists as well.

Exactly how truthful are these comments? Many times, it seems that people are merely speculating. I'm currently a junior (I explained this in my first post--thank you to everyone with helpful comments), and I am planning to go into theoretical physics. In all honesty, I find that the above comments don't make a lot of sense. It as if individuals are saying that theorists must know their physics better than experimentalists. Also, there is current theoretical research undergraduate students can be apart of in REUs, etc. I feel that this would be a necessity for a prospective, theoretical physics, graduate student.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

dunecastle
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:50 am

Postby dunecastle » Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:11 am

I'm applying theoritical physics, too. Because my research background in junior and senior stage were mostly concerned with theoritical analysis. I am uncertain of what level of graduate program I would be enrolled in, for my work seems only a mass of programming and calculating. I mean, I worked out a small calculation program and use it to analyze several patterns of my current interest(photonic crystal). Though the work were sustained by several papers I proposed, I am always concerning that my background(which is only mass of repeated program running)can not compete those experimentalist who have skills and experiences in practical instrument operating. What is more, my gpa is not high enough for a therotical researcher. I'm thinking of transferring of my current work to experiment research. So it seems I have the same question with you.

sophia_xuqing
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:26 am

Postby sophia_xuqing » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:42 am

I am now a graduate of master study in theoretical physics. And my speciality is particles. It is so ashamed that in the first year i did not get any apparent improvement in this field.
And during my bachelor's time, i once did experiment about fuels, and that is chemistry experiment, not physics.
Now i am also planning to apply for the experimental physics direction. Maybe material science and engineering , experimental biophysics or optics.
Can we discuss more about the application and which field to choose??
hope for the reply of all friends here who wanna get further develpment in physics or related field.

theoretical_phys
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:16 am

Postby theoretical_phys » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:23 pm

Ah. More than likely, I will apply to astrophysics OR physics graduate programs around the country. My research interests involve cosmology, relativity, and gravitation--all theoretical aspects, of course.

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

Postby tnoviell » Thu Aug 16, 2007 4:16 pm

I doubt someone wishing to do theoretical has to do better on the subject as compared to an experimentalist, but it all depends on where you want to go for your graduate studies. Some places will clearly indicate what the benchmark should be, some places won't, but you should assume based on the reputation of that University.

Peter
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:19 am

Postby Peter » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:45 am

You are wrong. I talked to several people at Cornell and they said that expectations are higher for a prospective theoretical student that for an experimentalist when it comes to subject GRE. Reason: theory has less founding, a university can accomodate smaller numer of theoretical students which results in fiercer competition for those slots.

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

Postby tnoviell » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:44 pm

Well, that makes sense.

theoretical_phys
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:16 am

Postby theoretical_phys » Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:01 am

I thought theory had less funding because it doesn't need as much funding than a specific experiment needing costly equipment, etc. Maybe I am wrong.

sophia_xuqing
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:26 am

Postby sophia_xuqing » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:34 am

Which one is easier to apply? theories or experiment?
I think that depends on different emphasis, theories require a comparatively stronger knowledge about theories, so maybe that is the reason they want the sub be higher?




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