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Discussion: physics

in: Misha

May 4, 2016 4:09 PM # 
This coming September, I am starting graduate school in physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. My goal is to obtain a doctorate in physics there and to obtain a job as a physicist in the academic industry after that. It's going to be a long, challenging road to that goal. However, I am ready for this road. I should have started on it fourteen years earlier. Instead, I took a fourteen year long detour. During that detour, I obtained experience that may or may not come in useful to me in the years ahead. Specifically, I taught, though, for the most part, I didn't teach physics and I didn't teach adults. I even went through the process of obtaining a doctorate in a natural science and made it through two ensuing postdoctoral positions, though there was no physics in either my dissertation or in any of my postdoctoral research. This life is a road, good thing it keeps going.
May 9, 2016 6:28 AM # 
Good luck, Misha! Never too late to pursue what seems right to you.

BTW, UCSB is where I got my Ph.D. And I imagine you will profit from the proximity to the Kavli Institute. Hope you can catch up to Peter Graham :-)
May 9, 2016 11:35 AM # 
Thank you, Dennis. I believe that you are right, that it's not too late for me to do this. I am very excited about UCSB. They have very strong programs both in theoretical physics (the Kavli Institute) and in experimental atomic (mostly condensed matter) physics. Both will be very helpful to me, since I want to do experiment with individual atoms, motivated by the discovery of fundamentally new physics. Hopefully, I will soon catch up to Peter well enough to be able to talk to him intelligently about the research that he does and the research that I want to do. One day, I may even design and conduct experiments that will be worth weaving into the beautiful tapestry of the universe that he creates in his daily work.

What was your field of study for your Ph.D.? What was your specialization?
May 10, 2016 5:39 PM # 
Congratulations on acceptance, and taking this next step in your life journey!
May 10, 2016 6:05 PM # 
Thank you, Zan. I have a feeling that this next part of my life journey is going to be a lot of fun. Speaking of activities that seem fun, I just saw you and Jonas in the video of the flying show that you posted on attack-point. Fantastic form and also I love the space pants! How have you been?
May 14, 2016 10:19 PM # 
My degrees are all in pure mathematics. My doctoral thesis was in the area of abstract harmonic analysis. But I've long been interested in astronomy and physics, resulting in me teaching classes on Cosmology as well as on Relativity - in addition to teaching lots of math classes.
May 17, 2016 4:08 PM # 
Dennis, that's very impressive. Mathematics has always been my weakness in the pursuit of physics. I tend to understand the physics involved in any particular system or experiment intuitively before being able to describe it precisely in mathematical terms. I've always, however, admired the beautiful language of mathematics and understood the need to learn this language in order to learn physics from other people and to teach physics to other people. Additionally, I find that the most interesting experiments are those that are motivated by discovering fundamentally new physics. This makes it necessary for me to learn the mathematics that describes our latest understanding of the way that the universe operates in order to come up with experiments that may improve this understanding. These are some of the reasons I always benefit greatly from the advice of mathemagicians such as yourself - folks who have the talent and the motivation to study and develop complex mathematical constructs without the somewhat limiting need to tie them to specific physical phenomena.

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