Returning to Physics

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satyad18
Posts: 230
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:17 am

Returning to Physics

Post by satyad18 » Sat May 23, 2020 1:50 pm

Hello everyone,

I am back to this forum after a long hiatus of almost 6 years, so pardon me if I am not aware of the latest happenings. I will try to keep my queries as short as possible.

A little background information:

1) Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (2006 - 2010)
2) Masters in Physics from top 50 US universities. (2012 - 2014)
3) Masters in Theoretical Physics (with 1 publication in PRD in field of LQG) from top 10 universities in Germany. (2014 - 2017) --> I did another masters degree so as to be better prepared for PhD, but boy was I wrong/unlucky.

Back in 2017, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to give up my path towards PhD and had to take the high road of earning some bucks for survival. After working for 3 years, I feel a little stable to begin to think about getting back to research in Physics.

Interests: Cosmology
Current status: Analyst at a FinTech company.

I would very much like your inputs on the following:

1) Where could I start? I have already started to brush up on my undergrad level Astronomy and Cosmology, after which I plan to dive into either Dodelson or Weinberg's books on Cosmology.
2) Is PhD necessary? I am already a bit thrown out of the league and tired of all the applications and rejections and financial issues.
3) Is it possible to do research by own and get something published? I am nothing but a curious fellow, and just would like to contribute something to man's understanding of the Universe. :)

Thanks in advance!

geekusprimus
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Returning to Physics

Post by geekusprimus » Sat May 23, 2020 3:36 pm

1) Sounds like a good place to start to me. Maybe try catching up on some research in your own field.
2) Depends on what you want to do. If you want a career in research, particularly academia, absolutely. If you just want a job, as you've discovered, not at all.
3) Doing research on your own is pretty difficult, even theoretical research which may not require access to expensive equipment or extensive funding resources. It takes a lot of time to stay on top of the field, and it can be hard to get grants, submit papers, or speak outside of the crackpot section of a conference if you aren't representing a university, laboratory, or legitimate corporation. However, sometimes various universities and research labs will have "postbacc/post-masters" or "adjunct research" positions. I know a guy at the school I'm headed to in the fall who had fairly mediocre grades and GRE scores but took a gap year as an adjunct researcher to beef up his resume and get some good connections. He ended up getting into some pretty good programs. I've got a friend who just finished up his master's degree in physics and just headed off to a post-masters position at a national laboratory. So, there are options available. They're not as easy as just jumping straight from a master's degree to a PhD, but they are there.

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satyad18
Posts: 230
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:17 am

Re: Returning to Physics

Post by satyad18 » Sun May 24, 2020 2:53 am

Thank you for your input.

1) Yes, after some reviewing of material, I do plan to pick up a particular problem and dive deeper with latest research papers from the arxiv.

2+3) Career in academia will surely be the ideal one, but at least I thought I could start with a problem, research on it with pencil, paper and (publicly) available experimental data, and produce some (hopefully insightful) results to catch the eye of peers in the field. That should at least help me to put my leg through the door and make them see me as a viable candidate (either for PhD position or adjunct position like you mentioned, or just someone who they might consider collaborating with).



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