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Author Topic: How does one become a physicist?  (Read 2854 times)

Offline redrooster

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How does one become a physicist?
« on: 08/10/2013 00:41:23 »
What do I have to do to call myself a physicist?


 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #1 on: 08/10/2013 01:28:16 »
What do I have to do to call myself a physicist?

To be a professional physicist requires study and some sort of academic qualification. Also some form of postdoctoral work would help. However self study could bring yourself to exactly the same point but without the qualification. In this case it would be harder to get your theories accepted.
« Last Edit: 08/10/2013 01:31:42 by jeffreyH »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #2 on: 08/10/2013 01:43:07 »
Quote from: jeffreyH
To be a professional physicist requires study and some sort of academic qualification. Also some form of postdoctoral work would help. However self study could bring yourself to exactly the same point but without the qualification. In this case it would be harder to get your theories accepted.
Professional usual is taken to mean being paid for your work. I prefer not to look at it that way, although I do have those qualifications (degree and work as a scientist in industry).

Here's why I say to be careful - Let's take a close look at a good example, i.e. Einstein. When Einstein was working on special relativity and the photo electric effect, which won him a Nobel Prize, he didn't have his PhD awarded yet. When Einstein published relativity he was, in my opinion, a bonafied physicist in every sense of the word. I'll even take what he was as a definition of physicist. But he wasn't getting paid to be a physicist when he was doing that work. He was being paid to be a pattent clerk, third class.

By definition a physicist is a scientist who specializes in physics.

There are other things people mean when they refer to themselves as a physicist. To learn what that is see http://www.aps.org/careers/physicists/index.cfm

However as Jeff says it is sufficient to simply obtain a degree (BA or BS, MS, PhD) in physics. That's part of what qualifies as being a physicist. That and my work as a scientist in industry and private study.


In my case as a disabled physcist I help others study physics. However I also help certain people proof read their texts (E.g. Exploring Black Holes) and helped other authors find errors in their already published texts (Ohanian, "Goldstein, Safko and Poole's" text Classical mechanics).

As you know right now I'm working to create an organization to promote the science, better communication between scientists, Multimedia in studying physics etc.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #3 on: 08/10/2013 02:29:44 »
A word of caution on this subject: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said – Do not characterize yourself by your profession.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #4 on: 08/10/2013 02:31:15 »
I will say that there are many terms that have somewhat lax usage in today's society.

Chemist, Physicist, Computer Scientist, Biologist, etc. 

They denote a profession, and some (unspecified) education or experience in the field.

Some terms such as Dr., M.D.,D.O., Ph.D., MA, MS, MBA, MFA, BA, BS, BFA, BBA, & etc specifically denote a degree.

Depending on the qualifications for a job, some employers may require a specific degree.  However, in many cases, there is also a place for work experience and on the job training.  And, in some cases, there have been suggestions that having a degree without work experience is worse than having work experience without a degree.

Nonetheless, for students, a good target would be to start with a target of a bachelor's level education, then evaluate whether further education is required for their goals.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #5 on: 08/10/2013 02:39:29 »
Quote from: CliffordK
Some terms such as Dr., M.D.,D.O., Ph.D., MA, MS, MBA, MFA, BA, BS, BFA, BBA, & etc specifically denote a degree.

Depending on the qualifications for a job, some employers may require a specific degree.  However, in many cases, there is also a place for work experience and on the job training.  And, in some cases, there have been suggestions that having a degree without work experience is worse than having work experience without a degree.
I should note that it's not uncommon for a scientist to have the equivalent knowledge and experience of someone with an MS if they only officially have a BA or BS.

Members of this forum have the opportunity to get the equivalence of a degree in physics if you're willing to work very hard simply by doing self study and when you need help come to forums like this where there are people who know the material and can help you learn it.
« Last Edit: 08/10/2013 03:24:38 by Pmb »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #6 on: 08/10/2013 14:40:08 »
A word of caution on this subject: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said – Do not characterize yourself by your profession.
A friend of mine sent me an article he wrote on this very theme.

It's found in Positioning the History of ScienceSeries: Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, Vol. 248 by John Stachel, 2007, VII, 188 pp. 163-167. In it he writes
Quote
In spite of many rumors to the contrary, I am not now and never have been a “historian of science”– indeed, I am opposed to the definition of any human being by discipline or profession.

(footnote) - I am enough of an Emersonian to heed his voice in “The American Scholar,” with the caveat that his use of “man” should be taken as embracing woman: ”Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier.
We had a wonderful talk about this the other night and he convinced me that it's unwise to call yourself something like a chemist, historian, physicist, etc. In that light I've changed my bio to instead of reading Physicist (disabled)" to reading Profession: Physics (currently disabled). Even that can be problematic since everyone who works wears different hats at different points in their career. I myself have job titles ranging from electronics technician, aircrapt weapons systems specialist (USAF) to physicist, Software test engineer.
« Last Edit: 08/10/2013 15:00:38 by Pmb »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #7 on: 10/10/2013 00:44:11 »
Most countries have licensing for professions such as medical professionals.  It is illegal to represent that you have a license that you do not have.

Thus, as I mentioned, your medical doctors should all have "M.D. or D.O." as part of their title, and usually display a copy of their diploma and local license.

Some professions such as Engineering have different levels in which some individuals are licensed, and some are not.  If you need a licensed engineer to review your design, then you need to verify the credentials of the person.

Not all of the "Doctors" at your local university are certified to perform surgery.   [xx(]

This bulletin board system welcomes participation from members of the community without certification requirements.  But,"Free" comments and advice can always have variable quality, and needs to be critically evaluated by the readers.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2013 05:12:44 by CliffordK »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #8 on: 10/10/2013 14:13:05 »
Quote from: CliffordK
Some professions such as Engineering have different levels in which some individuals are licensed, and some are not.  If you need a licensed engineer to review your design, then you need to verify the credentials of the person.
First off, let’s cut to the chase. If you have a BA/BS, MS or PhD in physics then you can call yourself a physicist. Period. Let’s stop making something so simply so incredibly difficult. Now does this mean if you’re a physicist that you have a BA/BS, MS or PhD? No. It doesn’t mean that. If A then B cannot be taken to mean If Not A then Not B

If (physics degree) then (physicist)

Does not imply

If (physicist) then (physics degree)

E.g.

If (I’m an Acura) then (I’m an Integra)

Does not mean

If (Not Acura) then (Not Integra)

This is akin to someone with a BSEE calling themselves electrical engineers. Does that mean his knowledge base and understanding is the same as someone with a PhD EE? No.

All types of professionals have different ranges of knowledge base and skill levels. If someone was to ask me what my area of expertise in physics were and I had to give an answer then I’d say relativity. That means that my understanding, knowledge and use of relativity is exceptionally good. As me about chaos theory and you’ll see me slack jawed. Lol!! It’s just that nobody knows everything in their own field of expertise. And not all physicists know all areas of physics. To think otherwise is not to understand.

I know some top-notch physicists who don’t know string theory. They tell me that the reason why is that they’re a slow learner. It was nice to hear that since I myself am a slow learner. Slow learner does not mean you can’t get something or when you get it have a poor understanding of it. Sometimes being slow means that you’re mind is requiring what is being read to be extremely precise and the mind is looking for errors. E.g. I can read fiction 10 times faster than non-fiction.

Someone wanting to know What do I have to do to call myself a physicist? is surely going to have problems with this spectrum of understanding, knowledge, abilities and skill levels. Surely a person with a BA in physics has much less general knowledge than someone with a PhD in physics, in general that is. However when someone has a particular level of expertise in a particular area might have a better understanding of the physics than someone with a PhD.

Nearly all of my professional friends (I have few non-professional friends) all have PhDs in physics. One friend is an astrophysicist at MIT another a (retired) condensed matter physicist at Bar-Ilan University. My understanding, knowledge and skill in relativity, both special and general, surpass theirs. This is not what I'm claiming about them but what they have told me about me. I also have friends with PhDs who are more skilled and knowledgeable in all areas of physics and math than myself. And I’m proud to know them. However as the years go by and they teach me more about their fields the gap slowly closes.

Some people don't understand that all physicists do not have an identical knowledge base.
 

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Re: How does one become a physicist?
« Reply #8 on: 10/10/2013 14:13:05 »

 

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