A Career in Physics and Astronomy

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Transcript A Career in Physics and Astronomy

A Career in Physics and
Steven R. Spangler
University of Iowa
What is Physics?
• Greek for “The Nature of Things”
• An attempt to discover the
fundamental laws of nature, and
their mathematical basis
• Examples: motion of planets, the
organization of electrons in
atoms, the flow of electricity
through matter
• Carried out through experiment,
theory, and computer simulation
What is astronomy?
• The study of properties of
astronomical objects and
the laws that govern them
• Objects range from
meteors (40 miles above
your heads) to the first
stars in the universe.
• Astronomy draws on
physics, but also
chemistry, geology, and
(in future) biology.
Why study physics and do
physics research?
Reason #1: The desire to
understand nature (“Natural
Why study physics and do
physics research?
Reason #2: Physics as the basis
for technology
Carbon nanotubes in
“Field Effect Transistors”
Physics and Useful Technology:
Controlled Fusion
The next (very) large step in
controlled fusion: ITER
Careers in physics
• Research scientist
• Engineer
• Scientific manager
(aerospace, electronics)
• Medicine
• Law
• Education (high school,
community college, college)
Education for a career in
physics (Part I: high school)
• Take all the mathematics and science
courses available to you
• Minimum: 4 years of HS math, science
through chemistry
• Optimum: HS math through some
calculus, science through physics
• Take the humanities seriously too!
• Don’t take a vacation your senior year
Education for a career in
physics (Part II: college and
• Undergraduate education: (4 years of
physics and mathematics)
• Graduate education (Master’s or PhD):
About 5 years (PhD) of advanced courses
and research. PhD necessary for
research or college teaching, not other
career paths
How much will I make?
The sciences represent the
exciting intellectual frontier of
the future. By participating in
them, you can be a part of
new discoveries and the
development of new
technologies for the world of
Study physics and
astronomy at the
University of Iowa
The Department of Physics and
Astronomy at Iowa offers degrees in
physics, astronomy, and applied
physics. Come visit us!