I want to be a future physicist. But how?

February 15, 2018  1703 words 8 mins read  Join the Discussion

You want to be a physicist in near future. Right? That’s why you are studying Physics in your bachelor studies. But you may encounter an interesting question that is, “But, how?”.

After that you will go on searching for people who are very experts in their field of physics and then, you ask questions to them. They will give you the best possible answer they can have. Now, here is a time you need to be aware of! I mean, statistically, if you take those answers for granted then, your career is biased by them. So, what you need to do is: you’ll need to take a lot of sample answers from different people. Then, you will need to analyze by yourself how you can have straight possible career paths in your interested field.

Stopped! Right?

Don’t worry. I will give you some strategies that I followed during the duration of my Bachelor studies.

Find your passion in Physics! But how?

First thing first, find your passion in physics! Question yourself on what field of physics you are very interested in. Not just because of media or science promoters but because of a concrete reason why you are interested in this field. To be honest, I do not like the way science promoters promote science.

You can read this post on how I got interested in science (notably physics). If you already have some real passion for Physics. I suggest you not to read until you arrive at the next section.😄

But, if you still don’t know? Okay! Let’s try this out!

Find out what things make you ask questions a lot to your teachers or your friends or even to yourself.

For example, let’s start with this:

You may have a question like why apples always fall towards the earth but not the earth towards an apple. Then, you find that this is due to gravity. And you’ll go on reading a lot more about Newton’s law of gravitation. Now, you are satisfied with the answer by Issac Newton. Because you learned how gravity works. And you know small bodies are pulled by heavenly bodies. But you still don’t know why gravity behaves like this? Now, your quest for searching for the answer may arrive at the General Theory of Relativity that was formulated by Albert Einstein. Now, you will understand gravity in terms of the geometry of spacetime. And you know that you can derive Newton’s law of gravitation in a very weak gravitational field from General Relativity. Now, you may have a question like, if there is a strong gravitational field (i.e. Blackhole somewhere in our universe), will general relativity work? You may find the answer: of course! Now, you will question what about in the singularity of that black hole where there is a quantum fluctuation of a strong gravitational field? Now, you may surprise that you need to account for another theory that can explain the very small things i.e. Quantum theory. Then, you see you need to study quantum gravity to understand this question.

What I want to say is, from a very simple question you find yourself that you want to become a physicist working in the field of quantum gravity.

But I want to aware you, it takes a lot of time and effort to figure it out! And in the meanwhile you will get depressed, have frustrating hours, and at last, you will lose your hope. But I strongly recommend you need to keep in mind that it’s common to every researcher and when you didn’t give up for a long time, everything you are stuck at will be normal. So, the inspiration you should have yourself is, never to stop questioning, maybe one day, you will find your passion. And I suggest, your passion need not seem to sound great. But the main thing is, you need to be passionate about your interested field of Physics.

If you found your passion then, we are ready for the next section.

Why not built some basic skills from today that are surely needed when I’ll be a physicist in my interested field?

Most of the people that I have seen ( or even me) entered Physics because they have some particular field of interest, and they want to see themselves in their future. Okay! Everything is cool up to this point. But the trouble comes when they did not grow themselves in their interest fields. And it’s not because they cannot and not either because their university did not furnish the syllabus. I think this is because they get desperate about what to do! And during my Bachelor’s, I understand what to do, and questioned: why not built some basic skills today which I surely needed when I’ll be a physicist in my interested field?

When you enter master’s studies and Ph.D. studies, you’ll need to train yourself with the necessary skills before you start the research. But the question is, how can I know what basic skills are needed?

Don’t worry! There is one social site that may help us!

Guess what?

LinkedIn (I’m not advertising it!). Now, but how?

So, let’s sign up there and complete your profile. Now, we are ready to do some research for you.

Suppose you are very interested in Astrophysics. Let’s find out what are the basic skills for it.

After you created your LinkedIn account, you can see a search box in the topmost left part of its website. Now, let’s type astrophysicist. And hit enter. You can see organizations, people, etc related to this keyword. Then, click the “People” tab. This is the thing that we’ll need! This means we have a long list of astrophysicists.  On the right side, you can see the filter option which you like to use if you already know which location has more experts in this field. But for our case, let’s make our proposal simple by ignoring this option.

Open every profile in a new tab. And ignore all their professional details (like organizations, achievements, etc.) and directly jump into the “Featured Skills & Endorsement” heading.

Let’s define what I mean by “basic skills” in this context. If there are any skills common among astrophysicists then, we call these skills basic skills. Suppose, every people has spectroscopy as a common skill then, we need to know if this belongs to the basic skills category. In the above image, the same color between three different people refers to the a common skill.

Let’s see further

Sometimes you see a skill that is not common to any profile that you are sampling. Then, you need to warn yourself it does not belong to the category. If you are very eager to know, search for it. If not, just ignore it. Again, you can see something like “Social media” and the same sort of skills then, you need to think I need to ignore it. If you put it in this category then, you will get into trouble. 😄

And I want to note here, there is also an endorsement number that other people endorse them. One way you can neglect skills is by seeing the endorsements for those skills on every profile.

Let’s put all in spreadsheets

Suppose 23 astrophysicists, know about “Image processing” then, you need to think this is a basic skill.

Hurray, you know how you can find what are the basic skills. Best of luck!

Commit yourself to at least trying to learn some basic skills.

After you know what are the basic skills for your interested field then, why not learn some of them? I don’t suggest you will need to learn all of them but strongly recommend knowing at least at the level of what they are! A quick tutorial is also a good start. But do not try to be an expert in the first learning stage rather go for searching some research projects that are finished using these skills which you have just learned basics. You can find it on arXiv or the researcher’s website. And try to reproduce their projects. This is one way you can build up your skills level from basic to intermediate. If you got stuck then, email the respective authors about your question.

Wow! You know what research is like!

Find a supervisor who can understand/matches your interest.

This is a time when you especially want to do your research and you need to have a mentor to supervise/track your research. And it’s the hardest part everyone will ever meet in their scientific career. So, here is the list of the points I would suggest:

  1. Find the list of people who are working in your field of interest.
  2. Email them mentioning that you have done this, …, this research works till now with your CV. Read their papers and give a concrete reason why you wanted to work with him/her. You do not need to fully understand their research but you must get a rough understanding of what they are interested in. Because they might think that there are other people why him/her!
  3. If they appreciate your effort then maybe they will happily accept your proposal.
  4. If yes! Best of luck with your research.
  5. But most of the time, they don’t! Because of that do not stop. Have faith and continue building up your skills.

Again, best of luck! May your wishes be fulfilled soon!

I want you to know that you may face problems like here when you’re as a Ph.D. candidate. So, be known of it.

Skip to the next section if you are not interested in app development.

Want to build an app under my concept?

From the search box of LinkedIn to spreadsheets and sorting out the basic skills is a tedious job. Right? Let me share here a list of things that one will need if one wants to build an app under this concept.

  1. Learn how to use the LinkedIn API.
  2. Make a statistical model. We need it because how can you give 23 a threshold number to say that “Image processing” belongs to basic skills? So this job will be done by your model.
  3. Design the flowchart to in-cooperate all tasks from extracting data, analyzing it and giving results.

Any feedback?

If you guys have some questions, comments, or suggestions then, please don't hesitate to shot me an email at [firstname][AT]physicslog.com or comment below.

Liked this post?

If you find this post helpful and want to show your appreciation, I would appreciate "a Coffee or Nepali Chi·ya (चिया)". It's a small gesture that can make my day!

Want to share this post?

  • Damodar Rajbhandari
    Written by Damodar Rajbhandari, a PhD candidate in the Mathematical Physics at the School of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Melbourne, Australia.