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Thread: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics

  1. #1 Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
    sox
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    I've got to start applying for PhD's in the next few weeks and I've got some ideas fo the sort of areas I might pursue in HEP or gravitation, but was wondering if anyone on here could think of any other areas that have interesting problems that need working on that are perhaps eclipsed at the moment by string theory etc.

    I'm thinking I might apply for a few in superconductivity and quantum chaos/foundations of QM aswell.

    So, any interesting suggestions? I'm open to most things as long as it's theory and not experimental (sox and labs do not get on well together).

    Cheers, sox.



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  3. #2 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    I've got to start applying for PhD's in the next few weeks and I've got some ideas fo the sort of areas I might pursue in HEP or gravitation, but was wondering if anyone on here could think of any other areas that have interesting problems that need working on that are perhaps eclipsed at the moment by string theory etc.

    I'm thinking I might apply for a few in superconductivity and quantum chaos/foundations of QM aswell.

    So, any interesting suggestions? I'm open to most things as long as it's theory and not experimental (sox and labs do not get on well together).

    Cheers, sox.
    I'm sure there are all sorts of theoretical problems, for instance the coronal heating problem in solar physics.

    However you appear to be primarily interested in problems relating to the foundations of physics, and that usually means high energy, gravitation or some combination of the two.

    I don't quite understand the application process that you describe. I am more used to a system in which you are admitted to some graduate school, then qualify for the PhD program and only then, in concert with your thesis adviser select and carry out a research project that results in the dissertation for the doctorate. It appears to me that you are premature in picking a narrow specialty, but I don't fully understand your system.

    I would expect an adviser to be able to steer you to a problem that is both interesting and solvable.


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  4. #3 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    ... was wondering if anyone on here could think of any other areas that have interesting problems that need working on that are perhaps eclipsed at the moment by string theory etc.

    .
    How about the reason we have atmospheric lightning? No professionals understand it, and amateurs are just shrugged off as crackpots. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    How about astronomical polar jets? The professionals are only a small part of the way down the wrong track. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    Snowflakes? Same deal. Formation of super-massive black holes? Same deal.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." --Buddha (563BC-483BC)
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  5. #4 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalemiller
    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    ... was wondering if anyone on here could think of any other areas that have interesting problems that need working on that are perhaps eclipsed at the moment by string theory etc.

    .
    How about the reason we have atmospheric lightning? No professionals understand it, and amateurs are just shrugged off as crackpots. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    How about astronomical polar jets? The professionals are only a small part of the way down the wrong track. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    Snowflakes? Same deal. Formation of super-massive black holes? Same deal.
    pitiful
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  6. #5 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalemiller
    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    ... was wondering if anyone on here could think of any other areas that have interesting problems that need working on that are perhaps eclipsed at the moment by string theory etc.

    .
    How about the reason we have atmospheric lightning? No professionals understand it, and amateurs are just shrugged off as crackpots. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    How about astronomical polar jets? The professionals are only a small part of the way down the wrong track. Got some pointers in http://dalescosmos.blogspot.com/.

    Snowflakes? Same deal. Formation of super-massive black holes? Same deal.
    What makes you think no professionals understand any of that?

    It's just the amateurs that think they know better that get shrugged off as crackpots.
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  7. #6 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster

    What makes you think no professionals understand any of that?

    It's just the amateurs that think they know better that get shrugged off as crackpots.
    Quite surprisingly, he is probably right:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning#Formation
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    Interesting, but my second point still stands. Dale and several others get shrugged off as crackpots mainly because of the way they present themselves. (Of course, several people present themselves better, only to reveal themselves as crackpots later.)

    Supermassive black holes are fairly well understood, as far as I know though.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster
    Interesting, but my second point still stands. Dale and several others get shrugged off as crackpots mainly because of the way they present themselves.
    It is the content of the tripe on his blog, not the presentation of that tripe that reveals him as a crackpot.

    There are lots of things that are not fully understood by legitimate scientists. The list of things that Dale does not understand includes all of them, and SO much more.
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  10. #9  
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    http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0609238
    Here's a link to a free ebook Iv'e downloaded. Iv'e only skimmed it, but it seem's legit to me. Actually, an expert opinion on the work's legitimacy or crackpottedness would be appreciated.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0609238
    Here's a link to a free ebook Iv'e downloaded. Iv'e only skimmed it, but it seem's legit to me. Actually, an expert opinion on the work's legitimacy or crackpottedness would be appreciated.
    I skimmed that paper, and decided it is not worth spending much time on it.

    I don't think I would call it crackpot. But neither would I call it insightful or informed.

    Here are some real and truly significant problems in mathematics. There is a $1,000,000 prize offered for their solution by the Clay Institute. (One problem, the Poincare conjecture, has been solved.)

    http://www.claymath.org/millennium/

    I am not aware of any similae list, or legitimate web site, in physics.
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    http://www.claymath.org/library/monographs/MPP.pdf
    Here's a link to a PDF about the millennium prize. I already had it in my collection though I hadn't read much of it yet. 10^6 $'s, I'll read it tonight, or at least some of it. Considering however that real mathematicians have been working on some of those problems for more than a century now I won't be quitting my day job.

    I'm gonna store that other PDF in my "CRAP" folder, next to the six volumes of "Motion Mountain".
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    http://www.claymath.org/library/monographs/MPP.pdf
    Here's a link to a PDF about the millennium prize. I already had it in my collection though I hadn't read much of it yet. 10^6 $'s, I'll read it tonight, or at least some of it. Considering however that real mathematicians have been working on some of those problems for more than a century now I won't be quitting my day job.

    I'm gonna store that other PDF in my "CRAP" folder, next to the six volumes of "Motion Mountain".
    I think the oldest of the Millenium Prize problems is the Riemann Hypothesis. It is the only one that is also one of the original Hilbert Problems. It is widely considered the most difficult problem in mathematics.

    The various problem statements (at the Clay Institute site or in your PDF) are worth reading. Each is written by a real expert. For instance, Bombieri did the piece on the Riemann Hypothesis. These are serious problems and not likely to be solved or even fully understood by amateurs.
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  14. #13 Re: Theoretical problems still remaining in in Physics 
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster

    It's just the amateurs that think they know better that get shrugged off as crackpots.
    MagiMaster, I must shrug off any further encounters of your intrusions to my postings as the work of a nuisance who has demonstrated malicious intent. There is no need for any of us to fear that getting shrugged off by any jackass is going to prevent intelligent consideration by other people of technical issues on the table. You seem to deem yourself accredited judge of all whom you survey. Please leave me alone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    Quote Originally Posted by MagiMaster
    Interesting, but my second point still stands. Dale and several others get shrugged off as crackpots mainly because of the way they present themselves.
    It is the content of the tripe on his blog, not the presentation of that tripe that reveals him as a crackpot.

    There are lots of things that are not fully understood by legitimatte scientists. The list of things that Dale does not understand includes all of them, and SO much more.
    Thank you sir: You certainly treat me as well as you do everybody else and I am grateful for that. And you are so right. My blog is no more than an appeal to those who know better to advise me of where I am wrong and thus disabuse me of my imperfect perceptions. If my hobby is just being a harmless crackpot, at least it keeps me off the streets.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." --Buddha (563BC-483BC)
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  16. #15  
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    While this thread is still up in the air, how does a PhD actually work at the beginning?

    I mean, I can understand what goes on in the lectures (well I have to go away and read it a few times), but in a PhD does the supervisor tell you how to begin and what to do?

    I don't think I'd be able to just start "research" on my own.

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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    While this thread is still up in the air, how does a PhD actually work at the beginning?

    I mean, I can understand what goes on in the lectures (well I have to go away and read it a few times), but in a PhD does the supervisor tell you how to begin and what to do?

    I don't think I'd be able to just start "research" on my own.
    It depends on the individuals.

    You have quite a way to go before you will have to worry about that.

    But ultimately the research should be yours, whether the adviser helps in selecting the topic or not. I have seen cases where the adviser guided strongly or actually did much of the work -- weak degrees.

    Before you are prepared for serious research you will need to get past some hurdles. In the U.S. those hurdles are the Qualifying and General exams. The purpose of course work is to give you the necessary background for those exams. Until you have passed at least the Qualifier you are not really a Ph.D. student. People do fail either of those exams and wash out. The year that I took Generals there were 3 or 4 who passed. It had been a few years since anyone had passed. I think it is more common now for people to pass.
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  18. #17  
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    Not so long as you might think.

    I've got to start applying now.

    I'll post progress in this thread. Might create some interesting spin-off threads.

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  19. #18  
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    Sorry, I don't know anything about advanced education and obtaining Ph.d's.

    Here's what appears to be an active area of research; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum...mation_science.

    There's also Bose-Einstein condensates; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose-Einstein_condensation, but that probably involves lot's of lab work.

    String theorist's get to play with lot's of really crazy math; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    Not so long as you might think.

    I've got to start applying now.

    I'll post progress in this thread. Might create some interesting spin-off threads.
    What I described takes place after you have applied and been accepted into a program in graduate school.
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  21. #20  
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    @sox, my PhD advisor doesn't do much as far as selecting topics goes. He pretty much says that your topic should be the kind of thing you'd be doing/thinking about anyway. He's still really helpful in keeping things moving though, by suggesting new directions, how to get past various hurdles and through various red tapes.

    @dale, get over yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, you should go back and read what I wrote in previous posts a little more carefully. I started off trying to help you present your ideas in a way that'd get people to listen, but you didn't want my advise. You were too convinced you were absolutely right and that everyone else was just out to get you. That attitude tells me that you're not worth listening to, so now I'll treat you like I do the rest of the crackpots. That means that your ideas will not get any attention and I'll do my best to defend lurkers from you.
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  22. #21  
    sox
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    What's your PhD in? I know you do maths... or did at undergrad level...

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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    What's your PhD in? I know you do maths... or did at undergrad level...
    Are you asking me ?

    You have it all wrong.

    I have no undergraduate degree in mathematics.

    I do have a Ph.D. in mathematics, and that is my only mathematics degree. The general area is analysis.
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  24. #23  
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    I was talking to MagiMaster.

    @ DrRocket: Did you do an undergraduate course before you did you're PhD in Mathematics? If so, what was it?

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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox
    I was talking to MagiMaster.

    @ DrRocket: Did you do an undergraduate course before you did you're PhD in Mathematics? If so, what was it?
    A course, meanimg a class ?

    Yeah, but not much. Calculus, linear algebra, one semester introductory real analysis. All of my significant mathematics classes were at the graduate level -- you can do that in mathematics but not very well in other disciplines. I did have a BS and MS in electrical engineering in rather theoretical areas so I knew about things like Fourier transforms, Laplace transforms, ordinary and partial differential equations, vector analysis, stochastic processes, etc..

    I took the intro real analysis and graduate classes in measure theory, functional analysis and topology while working on the MS in EE. Then I switched departments and did the Ph.D.
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  26. #25  
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    Ah right I see.

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  27. #26  
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    I currently have a B.S. in Math and Computer Science, and a M.S. in Computer Science, and I'm working on my Ph.D. in Computer Science. Most people who've never programmed would be surprised by how much math is involved (which is why the double major in math and CS wasn't too painful).
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