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Old 4th-August-2017, 05:07 PM   #1
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Default theoretical physics or engineering ?

next year am gonna get my bachelor degree and then start my master degree in France , so i have to choose between the fields .

i want to study theoretical physics because i like abstract and mysterious theories and i want to discover things and be a great scientist . for me engineering is a little booring
but my sister keep telling me that if u do engineering u will find a lot of job opportunities, ( by the way she s about to finish her master in electronics )
the probability of getting a job is much more higher than theoretical physics , and when
i told her that ,thats what i like she said " go back to earth , and stop dreaming to much " " be rational"
this is quite confusing cause she s a little bit right . i dont know what to do
i thought a lot about that and i cant decide
i have 3 choices to make

1 ) study engineering and read books about theoretical physics in my free time

2) take risk ,study theoretical physics and get a phd and try to find a job


3) choice 2 and if i dont get a job then do a master degree in engineering

so what do u think ?
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Old 4th-August-2017, 05:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Physics. Likely won't get the job you dream of (who does?) but the transferable skills will land you a job that isn't soulless. Plus it's more interesting.

Engineering is for scum (or just people who are more practical) and your work options are severely limited and boring. In demand and well-paying yes, but ohsofucking boring. You can pick the engineers of the world by the dead eyes staring vacantly into space.

Depends a little on the type of engineering but why give up on life from the start. Better to go with physics and have less-secure but more rewarding work. Chasing proverbial carrots and security is just the worst kind of life.
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Old 4th-August-2017, 08:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

It doesn't matter. Just pick one of them and decide to do it as awesomely as possible.

I also think your devaluation of engineering vs physics is slightly naive. I know you envision being the next Einstein or whatever and getting a ton of pussy by being a scientist superstar, and on the other hand being some engineering ant designing rotator shafts for some corporation. But what about this narrative: as an engineer you obtain powerful, practical knowledge which can make you the next Nicola Tesla. You can start companies and whatnot. As a theoretical physicist, you will hang around some campus all your life, living as a poor academic with 3 cats at home, and getting some intellectual validation here and there from the few other academics who care about the same esoteric stuff as you.

In other words, I would be careful about speculating about various future scenarios and about what will make you happy. But I do know this – lack of resources and human capital will make you miserable, so the economic reality of things should be taken into consideration. On the other hand, if you know you love theoretical physics as a subject in itself, then do everything in your power to make it as a physicist. Just don't engage in these half-measures where you work as an engineer and "read books about theoretical physics in your free time".
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Old 4th-August-2017, 08:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
Physics. Likely won't get the job you dream of (who does?) but the transferable skills will land you a job that isn't soulless. Plus it's more interesting.
I suppose you think physics is more transferable because it's more general? That's not how it works in the real world.
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Old 5th-August-2017, 01:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

I highly recommend engineering.

As everyone knows, it is very good on the practical spectrum which is important for a job and affording a life while you aren't working.

As long as you choose your type of engineering (mechanical for me) and find a good company it can be a pretty fun job too.
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Old 5th-August-2017, 02:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

If you like research you can always get the physics degree (and a phd) and work on an institute or college, if you want to dream maybe even cern or the planck's institues on Germany. If phd relates to astronomy you can algo check the ESO telescopes on Chile.

I once had a professor (astrophysicist) who worked at Planck's and NASA, he told me that if you really want something and you're willing to spend time and hard work to get it, nothing is really impossible.

I know several phd physicists and job is not problem, you can work almost in everything being one. You can always do special courses later to work as an engineer too. My father is theoretical physicist iwth a phd and works on bioinformatics now, the future can bring a lot of opportunities.

That's what I plan to do when I finish the physics major, by the way.
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Old 5th-August-2017, 03:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

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Originally Posted by Serac View Post
I suppose you think physics is more transferable because it's more general? That's not how it works in the real world.
Thanks for teaching me about the real world

It's more transferable because the skills you learn in physics apply to a huge variety of fields, not because it's more 'general' but because a physics degree actually gives you the skills to work in many fields.

It requires a high degree of competency with various forms of mathematics, computing and linguistics. It's more demanding and forces you to learn more things than an engineering degree does. Shit you could just become an engineer if you're capable of doing a physics degree, with a small amount of bridging. The reverse is not true.

Engineering on the other hand is mostly just applied-science rote-learning and has you working in construction or industry of some kind in 99% of cases. Perfectly fine and stable jobs, but also irredeemably boring and not worth the money you get imo.
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Old 5th-August-2017, 05:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
Thanks for teaching me about the real world

It's more transferable because the skills you learn in physics apply to a huge variety of fields, not because it's more 'general' but because a physics degree actually gives you the skills to work in many fields.

It requires a high degree of competency with various forms of mathematics, computing and linguistics. It's more demanding and forces you to learn more things than an engineering degree does. Shit you could just become an engineer if you're capable of doing a physics degree, with a small amount of bridging. The reverse is not true.

Engineering on the other hand is mostly just applied-science rote-learning and has you working in construction or industry of some kind in 99% of cases. Perfectly fine and stable jobs, but also irredeemably boring and not worth the money you get imo.
This is an incredible post lol.

You basically just list sentences that repeat your point but not a single word to support any of them.

Quote:
It requires a high degree of competency with various forms of mathematics, computing and linguistics.
OK, cool (linguistics???). But I guess engineering is also all about mathematics and computation. Let's see if the next sentences gives us any explanation of this.
Quote:
It's more demanding and forces you to learn more things than an engineering degree does.
Learn "more things". Ok, I see... you learn more things. That's great. It's always good to learn more things. Let's see if the next sentence fleshes this out.
Quote:
Shit you could just become an engineer if you're capable of doing a physics degree, with a small amount of bridging.
Shit, dawg. With "small amount of bridging" you say? I'm totally sold now.
Quote:
The reverse is not true.
QED, bitches.

Quote:
Engineering on the other hand is mostly just applied-science rote-learning and has you working in construction or industry of some kind in 99% of cases
It's just applied science? Bleeeh who needs that shit. Only un-applied subjects are good for transferability. Like, if you know what a Higgs Boson particle is, then you're hired! You know how to solve a differential equation numerically? Fuck you, that's applied stuff.

Etc...
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Old 5th-August-2017, 06:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Not sure what your actual point is? Plenty of people who learn or study physics end up branching out into territories or disciplines that aren't really physics. Engineers typically don't have this freedom.

Engineering becomes very specific and dependent on the discipline you choose. Mechanical/chemical/civil engineering etc. are not really interchangeable jobs. It's a field that quickly forces you into a box and yeah, you're headed for construction or industrial work in the overwhelming majority of cases.

In physics your job prospects are broader and less secure but there's a lot more interest to be had. Architect ended up in software development from a physics degree, some people end up computing algorithms for particle accelerators, while another person I know designs and helps build telescopes (from small to huge ones) and is one of the lead designers for telescopes in the southern hemisphere.

The outcomes from a physics degree are more abstract and varied than engineering - which is important if you value your freedom over simple security, or if you're not someone who enjoys staying in one job for long.

Do you disagree or something?
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Old 5th-August-2017, 06:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Damn, designing telescopes that sounds so fucking cool man, like super amazing.
Why I wasn't born that smart? :|
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Old 5th-August-2017, 06:45 AM   #11
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Engineering
"Engineering is the application of mathematics, as well as scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes, solutions, and organizations."

Physics
"(from Ancient Greek: φυσική (ἐπιστήμη) phusikḗ (epistḗmē) "knowledge of nature", from φύσις phúsis "nature") is the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion and behavior through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force."


So. Do you want to be God, or Gods right hand?

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You can pick the engineers of the world by the dead eyes staring vacantly into space.
True. But a bit of mascara and eyeliner can easily fix that.
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Old 5th-August-2017, 07:53 AM   #12
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Is this the dramma that was foretold?
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Old 5th-August-2017, 09:04 AM   #13
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

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Old 5th-August-2017, 03:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
Not sure what your actual point is? Plenty of people who learn or study physics end up branching out into territories or disciplines that aren't really physics. Engineers typically don't have this freedom.

Engineering becomes very specific and dependent on the discipline you choose. Mechanical/chemical/civil engineering etc. are not really interchangeable jobs. It's a field that quickly forces you into a box and yeah, you're headed for construction or industrial work in the overwhelming majority of cases.

In physics your job prospects are broader and less secure but there's a lot more interest to be had. Architect ended up in software development from a physics degree, some people end up computing algorithms for particle accelerators, while another person I know designs and helps build telescopes (from small to huge ones) and is one of the lead designers for telescopes in the southern hemisphere.

The outcomes from a physics degree are more abstract and varied than engineering - which is important if you value your freedom over simple security, or if you're not someone who enjoys staying in one job for long.

Do you disagree or something?
Well, your assumption just seem to be that because something is more theoretical, it's more transferable. But what are the actual skills that will be transferred? It's stuff like: computation, modeling, programming, complex problem-solving. Are physicists more well-versed in these things than engineers? Not necessarily. The reason physicists end up doing all kinds of things other than physics is not that they are necessarily awesome at everything – it's just that there are not many opportunities within physics.

I don't know if I disagree with you. You haven't provided any justification for your views. You just have this foolish narrative that engineering is applied science, therefore it's just brain-dead shit. Like, Da Vinci was a boring dude because he didn't deal with space-time continuums and whatnot. Ultimately, any subject can be made boring by thinking inside a small box about it. Interesting minds will make anything interesting (and boring minds will make anything boring).
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Old 6th-August-2017, 05:15 AM   #15
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Sorry but it's true - engineering as its utilised in modern society makes it fucking boring 99% of the time.
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Old 6th-August-2017, 05:23 AM   #16
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Take a strong's inventory test and report your results here.

This is a question about risk vs. reward. If you think you will graduate like top of your class, go with theoretical physics. Otherwise, you are prolly better off with engineering.
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Old 10th-September-2017, 12:38 AM   #17
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

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Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
Physics. Likely won't get the job you dream of (who does?) but the transferable skills will land you a job that isn't soulless. Plus it's more interesting.

Engineering is for scum (or just people who are more practical) and your work options are severely limited and boring. In demand and well-paying yes, but ohsofucking boring. You can pick the engineers of the world by the dead eyes staring vacantly into space.

Depends a little on the type of engineering but why give up on life from the start. Better to go with physics and have less-secure but more rewarding work. Chasing proverbial carrots and security is just the worst kind of life.
lol you must be joking right? Engineers can branch out just as broadly if not more broadly than physics majors. In fact, an engineering degree in the US is considered the most employable degree out there. I've had friends who do engineering go off to program, teach, do finance, do business, etc. In fact, the statistics support this. A quick google search on "the most employable degrees" will give you everything you need to know to make a judgement.
I don't even know where you got the stereotype that engineers are boring. Do you even have anything to back up that claim? Some of the most intelligent and animated people I know are engineers. They are capable of constructing a electronic filter systems, designing complex systems inside machinery, and creating software programs that greatly improve efficiency. How many physicists do you know can apply their knowledge to actually designing something that makes someone's lives easier, and then actually building it? Note that a simple motor powered by magnets and currents doesn't actually count.

Everything that engineers learn is based on physics. Regardless of whether you major in physics or engineering physics will still be a core part of what you do. In fact, physics majors and engineers at my school essentially take the same classes and take the same amount of required math. The only difference is that engineers branch out to more things. An electrical engineer will focus more on circuits and analogs; a mechanical engineer is more likely to deal with thermodynamics and mechanical dynamics. Yet, what you learn in those engineering specific courses will also be taught in upper level physics courses just with more or less emphasis on certain parts depending on the course (first and second law of thermodynamics, rotational movement, kinematics, forces, kirchoff laws, coulomb's law, etc. etc.)

Overall, you seem to hate the idea of stability? Or do you hate the fact that engineers earn more than physicists?
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Old 10th-September-2017, 12:46 AM   #18
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

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Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
Thanks for teaching me about the real world

It's more transferable because the skills you learn in physics apply to a huge variety of fields, not because it's more 'general' but because a physics degree actually gives you the skills to work in many fields.

It requires a high degree of competency with various forms of mathematics, computing and linguistics. It's more demanding and forces you to learn more things than an engineering degree does. Shit you could just become an engineer if you're capable of doing a physics degree, with a small amount of bridging. The reverse is not true.

Engineering on the other hand is mostly just applied-science rote-learning and has you working in construction or industry of some kind in 99% of cases. Perfectly fine and stable jobs, but also irredeemably boring and not worth the money you get imo.
LOL you must be joking. A physicist can jump over and do an engineer's job easily? Oh please. Let me ask you, how well do you know how to use AutoCAD, LTSpice, construct statistical overlays that do product control, negotiate with clients to minimize cost, draft up designs of buildings or cars, use mohr's circles, use power factors and all of the many many engineering details essential to doing their job but not taught in a physicist's curriculum?

You must be an idiot if you think an engineer's curriculum is rote learning. Have you ever actually attended an engineering school? One moment you are learning about statics, the next you are calculating internal shear stress, the next you are learning about moments of intertia...then suddenly you are constructing LC,RC circuits, using oscilloscopes...then suddenly you are doing crazy stuff calculating electrical fields, using lenz' law and predicting the effects of inductors...
That's just barely scratching the surface.

Let's not even get into fluid mechanics, navier strokes, thermodynamics (conversation of energy is king), all of which involve heavy use of differential equations which means there are countless models and solutions to many different problems. None of what I have learned is subject to rote learning as every class has unique methods and solutions as we deal with numerous environments.

I suggest you go educate yourself regarding what you are talking about.
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Old 10th-September-2017, 11:16 AM   #19
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

To the OP:
Just so you know, I graduated with an electrical engineering degree with a ~3.1 GPA. Now maybe that's not good, but I couldn't get a job and I've actually given up on that. So engineering isn't a sure bet either. Depends on how many entry-level jobs there are and how many and what kind of people are applying for them. You can have a degree and have no one want to higher you. Just to give you some perspective, the job I work at only requires a high school diploma, but because jobs are hard to find and there is a lot of demand, they "want" an AA or bachelor's degree; and the guys that got hired with me have an electrical engineering degree and another one with a master's in aerospace engineering...so yeah...course, this is in the US and I don't know about France...but I don't know how the fuck people think the economy improved, since 2008. It still seems pretty shit.

To everyone else:

Isn't engineering applied physics? Sounds like practical physicist vs theoretical physicist. Theoretical would be better for designing new technologies and practical for taking what is already known and using that to make something, no?

And I don't see why either couldn't learn what the other does. Practical applications are sometimes a lot harder than theoretical because it has to be a lot more refined and it has to work exactly as intended. So I get that that kind of attention to detail could be boring. But I think engineers would typically struggle with cross-discipline engineering, something a theoretical physicist would probably have a better grasp at, despite not having practical knowledge of all the disciplines.

I don't know, but I think I get what you all are saying...
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Old 10th-September-2017, 06:04 PM   #20
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

I am currently pursuing my PhD in theoretical physics, and believe I can be more self-actualized this way than if I would have done engineering.
Now, both physics and engineering are among the better choices of studies as a matter of career prospects. What you should pursue is just what you want to pursue yourself. Physicists (or pure scientists in general) and engineers (applied science) have always been making fun of each other, which is of course a good thing. On the other hand, there are some insecure people that desperately want to prove how much more important their own field is.

If you decide to study physics, you can choose to go more to the experimental or more to the theoretical side. For experimental physics, there are typically more opportunities to remain in academia, while it may be less clear what to do as a regular job, though the prospects are still better than e.g. a sociology degree (I am not suggesting that sociology would be useless by that btw.). Theoretical physics may detach you more from the real world and the opportunities to remain in academia are scarce, but you become well trained in applied mathematics. Differential equations won't impress me (actually, I recently had to write some solvers for SDE's), if I have to read on pure math (like say differential topology) I will have a tougher time, though you learn to manage handling it enough to find what you need. In this sense, physics can be seen as in between pure math (where the true geniuses live imo) and engineering.

Engineering is a less 'deep' study, but can be broader. It is not only applied physics, but also chemistry... though an engineer typically specializes in one kind of engineering at the end. I do believe the world needs more engineers than it really needs physicists in fact, because every bit of theoretical work can generate loads of practical work. Also, engineers, being less distracted by abundant intellectual baggage, can be better in getting things done effectively.

In the end, as mentioned, there is no clear cut in jobs for either physicists or engineers, both will be smart enough to learn other stuff themselves after graduating (though generally from more theoretical to more applied may be a bit easier than the other way around).

@OP I would recommend you to study physics. Not because it is superior, but because it is what you want to do.
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Old 10th-September-2017, 06:33 PM   #21
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

There is nothing to do in theoretical physics unless your are more creative and intelligent than all physicist in past 70years
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Old 10th-September-2017, 06:58 PM   #22
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Physics is applied mathematics, so fuck y'all.

And mathematics is applied philosophy, i.e. 2x fuck y'all

My recommendation: do mathematics and do some cool side projects. That's how you get employed
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Old 10th-September-2017, 07:27 PM   #23
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Default Re: theoretical physics or engineering ?

Hey Yourmother,

Everyone here at Redbaron Enterprises® would like to thank you for confirming that engineers are in fact, boring and soulless.

Please accept this overrated INTPf elephant emoticon as recompense for your services:

Sincerely,
redbaron
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