Skills for a Variety of Careers
degree in physics tells prospective employers
this person has what it takes to succeed. The physics major learns
to start with an ill-posed problem, formulate it quantitatively, solve
it, and communicate the results clearly. The skill transfers readily to
many fields. Physicists go on to become lawyers, doctors, and engineers.
We have come into considerable demand as investment bankers, particularly
since it was realized that the Black-Scholes
model for futures pricing is mathematically a diffusion equation.
for people with training in physics are manifold. According to reports
SDB95307 and SDB95308 (1992-1993) from the
National Science Foundation, people with bachelors degrees in physical
science have an unusually
low unemployment rate, lower than the rate for people with bachelor's
degrees in other sciences.
closely with the faculty at UCSD and taking an active part in their
research helped me to discover which fields of physics research
I enjoy and what I do best.''
required, the physics major may choose to involve herself in research.
An experimental physicist is more than just a scientist and scholar: she
is also an electrical engineer, an electrician, a master machinist and
mechanic, a plumber (more likely of liquid helium than of water), a carpenter,
an expert computer programmer, a chemist, an inventer, a writer, and a
tinkerer. An undergraduate in an experimental lab can expect to pick up
several of these skills, taking Andy
Pommer's machine-shop course, using the services of the helium
facility, and learning electronic
design and computer
programming from the engineers and scientists supporting these services
in the department.
designed and built the first
digital computer; Microsoft has run an advertisement for physicists
as computer programmers because, they say, physicists program computers
better than computer scientists do. Computers find use in laboratories
for data acquisition and analysis as well as in numerical calculations,
simulation, and visualization. Even where computers are not needed for
a particular theoretical or experimental work, we use them in typesetting
papers and preparing figures for publications and presentations.
beyond the envelope of past work, to make something colder or hotter or
thinner or smaller than anyone else has done before, or to measure a property
more accurately, experimental physics employs all the tools at its disposal.
A single laboratory may use gold electrical contacts, silver thermal pipes,
silk threads for insulation, diamond for generating high pressure, and
ruby for detecting it. High-energy experimenters in the department head
or participate in collaborations at particle accelerators near Geneva,
Stanford, Ithaca, and Chicago; others use facilities at Mount Palomar,
Rome, and the Mount Stromlo observatory in Australia. Theoretical research
can mean one or two people scratching formulae on paper pads or half a
dozen running codes on the San Diego Supercomputer Center's Cray T3D.
never get lost in the physics department
Hall's topology is rather weird, but we mean that you won't get lost in
a crowd of a thousand other majors. We have a major-to-faculty ratio of
only 1.3:1, so you can actually meet your professors. They'll even know
your name. Our faculty care about students' progress and will work with
them one-on-one. For students interested in research, many faculty provide
opportunities: not washing test tubes, but meaningful participation.
A good place to start looking for information on joining a research
group is the department's research
page, where each faculty member describes his or her recent and ongoing
to do Next
seems possibly interesting, you may wish to meet with one or more faculty
members. The student-affairs office
can make appointments for you, or you may contact the faculty directly.
If you don't know whom to contact, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org;
a physicist will respond.
not the most compelling reason to major in physics, but here goes anyway:
Twentieth Century Insurance Company offers a substantial discount on automobile
insurance for any scientist with a bachelor's degree in physics.