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brownie

Particle Physics / Quantum Mechanics

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My sophomore is excited about very little...just music and particle physics.  We've got music covered. I have no idea how to encourage the particle physics besides documentaries and reading. We are getting close to college application time. If he decides to study physics, demonstrated interest would be a good thing but I have no thoughts on how to do so. He's not the most passionate/motivated kid, so he's not going to take on some theoretical science project. Does anybody have a background in physics or ideas for me? He's a Davidson Scholar so totally capable of being a physics major if he wants and he's wrapping up Calc 2 as a sophomore.

 

 

 

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My physics geek self-studied multiple astronomy courses in high school.  He watched a lot of the Great Courses lectures.  For one course he combined this book Cosmos with the Understand the Universe lectures (though if you google Filippenko, I think many of his lectures are on youtube).  He followed that text with I think this one The Solar System (it was solar system book). He read Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps

Around Dec, he could apply to SSP ,Astronomy Camp,  and PAN.

MY ds wrote notebooks and notebooks full of though experiments. He is a theorist to the core.  But, other than that, camps and possibly seeing if he can work in a profs lab at a local U, there really isn't much else he can do as a high school student. 

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Thanks! PAN looks doable. Wish I'd found it earlier this year! Though he is resistant to everything so I may need a year to warm him up to it :) See I wasn't even sure how closely related astronomy was! This is out of my realm even though I'm a chem E. My physics was primarily mechanics and a little E and M.

 

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My ds spent most of his college yrs working on the Ice Cube Neutrino Project https://icecube.wisc.edu/  studying neutrinos and muons.  He is now in grad school for theoretical cosmology.  I don't really understand most of it, but the best way he has been able to explain it to me that I can understand is that astrophysics is the equivalent of biochemistry (study of biomolecular cell processes) and theoretical cosmology is the equivalent of ecology.  (Basically big systems vs. particles. 😉 )  

Ds didn't attend PAN, but he really wanted to.  He was accepted but it would have meant going right from SSP to PAN, and that was just too much time out of the summer.  He wished he had known about it earlier as well. (He applied to both the same summer hoping for one.  He was blessed with being accepted to both.) SSP has scholarship $$, so if $$ is a concern, still apply.  Lots of the kids receive funding.  Astronomy Camp is also a lot of fun and highly recommend. 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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So he majored in physics? I was looking through college websites trying to figure out if that was even the right major! A close friend whose dad was a physicist told us there aren't many jobs for particle physicists - that it's a really small group of ~150 geniuses, which was discouraging but our friend is in medical marketing :) Just trying to wrap my head around this whole thing so I can guide him in the right direction...gently.

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I don't know that I agree with your friend's assessment.  Try researching HEP (high-energy particle physics).  There is a lot of cutting-edge research going on in HEP, astrophysics, and cosmology right now.  The discovery of the Higgs boson was just the beginning.  There is also a lots going in researching dark matter, galaxy formation, string theory vs. (??? I can't remember the other theory ds talked about), etc.  It is an exciting time!  Ds LOVES this stuff.  (I don't understand even 1/100 of what he talks about or most of what I just wrote!)

But, yes, ds majored in physics and math. (He was similar to your ds math-wise. He graduated from high school having completed 5 in major math and physics courses.)  

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There are more than 150 particle physicists.  I attended an international particle physics conference and there was maybe ... 1000 people there.   And that was with the conference being on a different continent than originally planned.   On Employ-ability, I don't know.   Physics in general isn't great.  

Have you looked at the Open MIT classes?   I have a Physics and Engineering degree, and I could self-study most Physics or Math based topics.  But, Quantum/Particle Physics requires someone explaining things.   It weirdly crosses into almost theology.   You need someone to hammer the ideas in your head. 

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yea! I'm glad there are plenty of particle physicists!

Regardless, I find physics to be a good undergrad major for many future studies...if he's interested in further study.

Dh was meteorlogy and the undergrad physics majors who came into grad school kicked their butts due o better foundational mathematical knowledge.

I hope he's finally found something he likes....he's interested in music tech too which has some crossover with physics.

His older and younger brother are both passionate about their interests and many  subjects and knew what they wanted to do by 11 years old so this is kind of baffling...having a HS sophomore who is saying "it's too early to think about college" and has limited interests.

 

Edited by brownie

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The Great Courses Plus just released a new course on Quantum Physics that Sacha and I plan to listen to over the summer. That might be of interest. I am not sure of his level of knowledge already.

8, thanks for the link to the Ice Cube project. How exciting for your DS!

Re physics job prospects, outside of actual physics, we had tons of physics majors when I worked in investment banking, in management consulting, and in the law.  

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1 hour ago, SeaConquest said:

The Great Courses Plus just released a new course on Quantum Physics that Sacha and I plan to listen to over the summer. That might be of interest. I am not sure of his level of knowledge already.

8, thanks for the link to the Ice Cube project. How exciting for your DS!

Re physics job prospects, outside of actual physics, we had tons of physics majors when I worked in investment banking, in management consulting, and in the law.  

One thing I have learned through going through this with ds is that much of physics research consists of large international groups working in collaboration.

If you look at this list from Ice Cube you can get a feeling of all the Us involved.  https://icecube.wisc.edu/collaboration/institutions

A student does not need to go to MIT to participate in cutting edge research. They just need to get involved with a prof working on an international collaboration. (Ds was part of international conference calls, email loops, etc all connected to his research.)

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There were no physics opportunities here that my older ds could get into -- all of them were through the schools, and we were told to piss off. So ds put his time and passion into math and stood out in that way.  He is now a freshman physics major, taking freshman honors physics classes and grad-level math classes. My ds is interested in theoretical condensed matter physics, which requires lots of math.

Ruth in NZ

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On 5/2/2019 at 11:21 AM, brownie said:

So he majored in physics? I was looking through college websites trying to figure out if that was even the right major! A close friend whose dad was a physicist told us there aren't many jobs for particle physicists - that it's a really small group of ~150 geniuses, which was discouraging but our friend is in medical marketing 🙂 Just trying to wrap my head around this whole thing so I can guide him in the right direction...gently.

In my experience as an advisor, all the physics freshmen want to be either particle physicists or astrophysicists. They discover the other, less sexy,  but interesting research fields during their studies.

There are lots of job opportunities for physicists. It's a very versatile major. But competition for jobs in academia is very high, in all fields.

Edited by regentrude
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5 hours ago, regentrude said:

There are lots of job opportunities for physicists. It's a very versatile major. But competition for jobs in academia is very high, in all fields.

 

This summer, my son is studying the energy transfer between quantum dots and monolayers. Lots of opportunities in the physics end of materials science!

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3 hours ago, lewelma said:

 

This summer, my son is studying the energy transfer between quantum dots and monolayers. Lots of opportunities in the physics end of materials science!

Yes.  Material science is a huge employment field.  (It was also one that my ds eliminated as any area of interest.)  

 

9 hours ago, regentrude said:

In my experience as an advisor, all the physics freshmen want to be either particle physicists or astrophysicists. They discover the other, less sexy,  but interesting research fields during their studies.

There are lots of job opportunities for physicists. It's a very versatile major. But competition for jobs in academia is very high, in all fields.

Yes. in addition to coursework, participating in a wide variety of UG research can help them narrow their field of interest

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