The Info List - Physicist

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A physicist is a scientist who has specialized knowledge in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. [1][2] Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, to molecular length scales of chemical and biological interest, to cosmological length scales encompassing the Universe
as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena.[1] Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or developing new technologies (also known as applied physics or engineering physics).[3][4][5]


1 History 2 Education 3 Honors and awards 4 Careers 5 Professional Certification

5.1 United Kingdom 5.2 Canada 5.3 South Africa

6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

History[edit] Main article: History of physics

In an 18th-century experiment in "natural philosophy" (later to be called "physics") English scientist Francis Hauksbee
Francis Hauksbee
works with an early electrostatic generator.

The study and practice of physics is based on an intellectual ladder of discoveries and insights from ancient times to the present. Many mathematical and physical ideas used today found their earliest expression in ancient Greek culture (for example by Euclid, Thales of Miletus, Archimedes
and Aristarchus), Asian culture, as well as the Islamic medieval period (for example the work of Alhazen in the 11th century). The modern scientific worldview and the bulk of physics education can be said to flow from the scientific revolution in Europe, starting with the work of Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
and Johannes Kepler in the early 1600s. Newton's laws of motion
Newton's laws of motion
and Newton's law of universal gravitation were formulated in the 17th century, Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism in the 19th century, and quantum mechanics in the early-to-mid 20th century. New knowledge in the early 21st century includes a large increase in understanding physical cosmology. The broad and general study of nature, natural philosophy, was divided into several fields in the 19th century, when the concept of "science" received its modern shape. Specific categories emerged, such as "biology" and "biologist", "physics" and "physicist", "chemistry" and "chemist", among other technical fields and titles.[6] The term physicist was coined by William Whewell
William Whewell
(also the originator of the term "scientist") in his 1840 book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences.[7] Education[edit]

Students observing a demonstration at a laser physics institute

A standard undergraduate physics curriculum consists of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, non-relativistic quantum mechanics, optics, and statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.[8][9][10] Physics
students also need training in mathematics (calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, complex analysis, etc.), and in computer science and programming. Any physics-oriented career position requires at least an undergraduate degree in physics or applied physics, while career options widen with a Master's degree like MSc, MPhil, MPhys or MSci.[11] For research-oriented careers, students work toward a doctoral degree specializing in a particular field. Fields of specialization include experimental and theoretical astrophysics, atomic physics, molecular physics, biophysics, chemical physics, medical physics, condensed matter physics, cosmology, geophysics, gravitational physics, material science, microelectronics, nuclear physics, optics, radiophysics, electromagnetic field and microwave, particle physics, and plasma physics. Honors and awards[edit] The highest honor awarded to physicists is the Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded since 1901 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[12] National physics professional societies have many prizes and awards for professional recognition. In the case of the American Physical Society, as of 2017, there are 33 separate prizes and 38 separate awards in the field. Careers[edit] The three major employers of career physicists are academic institutions, laboratories, and private industries, with the largest employer being the last. Physicists in academia or government labs tend to have titles such as Assistants, Professors, Sr./Jr. Scientist, or postdocs. As per the American Institute of Physics, some 20% of new physics Ph.D.s holds jobs in engineering development programs, while 14% turn to computer software and about 11% are in business/education.[13] A majority of physicists employed apply their skills and training to interdisciplinary sectors (e.g. finance[14]).[15] Job titles for graduate physicists include Agricultural Scientist, Air Traffic Controller, Biophysicist, Computer Programmer, Electrical Engineer, Environmental Analyst, Geophysicist, Medical Physicist, Meteorologist, Oceanographer, Physics Teacher/Professor/Researcher, Physiognomist, Research Scientist, Reactor Physicist, Engineering Physicist, Satellite Missions Analyst, Science Writer, Stratigrapher, Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Microelectronics Engineer, Radar Developer, Technical Consultant, etc.[16][17][18][19] Physics
programs typically deal with meta-theories and its laws regarding applied science, hence most undergraduate physicists take up additional careers where their knowledge of physics can be combined with further training in other disciplines, such as computer science, information technology, patent laws, engineering diplomas, animation, teaching, etc. for industry or self-employment.[citation needed] A typical undergraduate physics program covers essential basic competence required in areas of physics endeavor like astrophysics, laboratory knowledge, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, optics, modern physics, calculus, etc. and also in computer science and programming.[20] Hence a majority of Physics
bachelor's degree holders are employed in the private sector. Other fields are academia, government and military service, nonprofit entities, labs and teaching.[21] Typical duties of physicists with master's and doctoral degrees working in their domain involves research, observation and analysis, data preparation, instrumentation, design and development of industrial or medical equipment, computing and software development, etc.[22] Professional Certification[edit] United Kingdom[edit] Chartered Physicist (CPhys) is a chartered status and a professional qualification awarded by the Institute of Physics. It is denoted by the postnominals "CPhys". Achieving chartered status in any profession denotes to the wider community a high level of specialised subject knowledge and professional competence. According to the Institute of Physics, holders of the award of the Chartered Physicist (CPhys) demonstrate the "highest standards of professionalism, up-to-date expertise, quality and safety" along with "the capacity to undertake independent practice and exercise leadership" as well as "commitment to keep pace with advancing knowledge and with the increasing expectations and requirements for which any profession must take responsibility" Chartered Physicist is considered to be equal in status to Chartered Engineer, which the IoP also awards as a member of the Engineering Council UK, and other chartered statuses in the UK. It is also considered a "regulated profession" under the European professional qualification directives. Canada[edit] The Canadian Association of Physicists can appoint an official designation called the P. Phys. which stands for Professional Physicist, similar to the designation of P. Eng. which stands for Professional Engineer. This designation was unveiled at the CAP congress in 1999 and already more than 200 people carry this distinction. To get the certification, at minimum proof of honours bachelor or higher degree in physics or a closely related discipline must be provided. Also, the physicist must have completed, or be about to complete, three years of recent physics-related work experience after graduation. And, unless exempted, a professional practice examination must also be passed. Exemption can be granted to candidate that have practiced physics for at least seven years and provide a detailed description of their professional accomplishments which clearly demonstrate that the exam is not necessary. Work experience will be considered physics-related if it uses physics directly or significantly utilizes the modes of thought (such as the approach to problem-solving) developed in your education and/or experience as a physicist, in all cases regardless of whether the experience is in academia, industry, government, or elsewhere. Management of physics related work qualifies, and so does appropriate graduate student work. South Africa[edit] The South African Institute of Physics
delivers a certification of Professional Physicists (Pr.Phys). At a minimum, the owner must possess a 3-year bachelors or equivalent degree in Physics
or a related field and an additional minimum of six years experience in a physics-related activity; or an Honor or equivalent degree in Physics or a related field and an additional minimum of five years experience in a physics-related activity; or master or equivalent degree in Physics
or a related field and an additional minimum of three years experience in a physics-related activity; a Doctorate or equivalent degree in Physics
or a related field; or training or experience which, in the opinion of the Council, is equivalent to any of the above. See also[edit]

Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft Institute of Physics
(UK & Ireland) Canadian Association of Physicists List of physicists Nobel Prize in physics Chartered Physicist Manhattan Project Strategic Defense Initiative List of Russian physicists American Physical Society


^ a b Rosen, Joe (2009). Encyclopedia of Physics. Infobase Publishing. p. 247.  ^ MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY - Simple Definition of physicist: a scientist who studies or is a specialist in physics ^ "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing in Physics" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.  ^ "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing in Engineering" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.  ^ "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing outside of STEM sectors" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.  ^ Cahan, David, ed. (2003). From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences: Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226089282.  ^ Donald S. L. Cardwell, James Joule: A Biography, Manchester University Press - 1989, page 18 ^ Wachter, Armin; Hoeber, Henning (2006). Compendium of Theoretical Physics. New York, NY: Springer. ISBN 0-387-25799-3.  ^ Krey, Uwe; Owen, Anthony (2007). Basic Theoretical Physics : A concise overview (1st ed.). Berlin: Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-36804-5.  ^ Kompaneyets, A. S. (2012). Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics
(2nd ed.). Mineola, New York: Dover. ISBN 0486609723.  ^ "Physicist". nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk. National Careers Service, United Kingdom. 7 October 2016.  ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics". Nobelprize.org.  ^ AIP Statistical Research Center. "Industrially Employed Physicists: Primarily in Non-STEM Fields" (PDF). Retrieved August 21, 2006.  ^ "Physicists and the Financial Markets". Financial Times. 18 October 2013.  ^ American Institute for Physics
(AIP) Statistical Research Center Report Physics
Doctorates Initial Employment published March 2016. ^ "What can I do with a degree in Physics?" (PDF). Augusta University. 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.  ^ " Physicist
Career Opportunities". Illinois Institute of Technology. 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.  ^ " Physics
Education, Applied to Engineering". National Academy of Engineering (NAE). 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.  ^ "Engineering Physicist
careers". Simon Fraser University, Canada. 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2017.  ^ "Physics,what next?" (PDF). University College Cork, Ireland. 2018. Retrieved January 7, 2018.  ^ "Initial Employment Sectors of Physics
Bachelor's, Classes of 2011 & 2012 Combined". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved September 13, 2016.  ^ "2111 Physicists and astronomers". National Occupational Classification - Canada. 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

Whitten, Barbara L.; Foster, Suzanne R.; Duncombe, Margaret L. (2003). "What works for women in physics?". Physics
Today. 56 (9): 46. Bibcode:2003PhT....56i..46W. doi:10.1063/1.1620834 . Archived from the original on 2013-02-23.  Kirby, Kate; Czujko, Roman; Mulvey, Patrick (2001). "The Physics
Job Market: From Bear to Bull in a Decade". Physics
Today. 54 (4): 36. Bibcode:2001PhT....54d..36K. doi:10.1063/1.1372112 . Archived from the original on 2012-07-16.  Hermanowicz, Joseph C. (1998). The Stars Are Not Enough: Scientists--Their Passions and Professions. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-32767-9.  Hermanowicz, Joseph C. (2009). Lives in Science: How Institutions Affect Academic Careers. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-32761-7. 

External links[edit]

Look up physicist in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

How to become a GOOD Theoretical Physicist, Utrecht University Physicists and Astronomers; US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physicists and Astronomers Physicist
Careers Careers through Engineering Physics

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Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physics


1901 Röntgen 1902 Lorentz / Zeeman 1903 Becquerel / P. Curie / M. Curie 1904 Rayleigh 1905 Lenard 1906 J. J. Thomson 1907 Michelson 1908 Lippmann 1909 Marconi / Braun 1910 Van der Waals 1911 Wien 1912 Dalén 1913 Kamerlingh Onnes 1914 Laue 1915 W. L. Bragg / W. H. Bragg 1916 1917 Barkla 1918 Planck 1919 Stark 1920 Guillaume 1921 Einstein 1922 N. Bohr 1923 Millikan 1924 M. Siegbahn 1925 Franck / Hertz


1926 Perrin 1927 Compton / C. Wilson 1928 O. Richardson 1929 De Broglie 1930 Raman 1931 1932 Heisenberg 1933 Schrödinger / Dirac 1934 1935 Chadwick 1936 Hess / C. D. Anderson 1937 Davisson / G. P. Thomson 1938 Fermi 1939 Lawrence 1940 1941 1942 1943 Stern 1944 Rabi 1945 Pauli 1946 Bridgman 1947 Appleton 1948 Blackett 1949 Yukawa 1950 Powell


1951 Cockcroft / Walton 1952 Bloch / Purcell 1953 Zernike 1954 Born / Bothe 1955 Lamb / Kusch 1956 Shockley / Bardeen / Brattain 1957 C. N. Yang / T. D. Lee 1958 Cherenkov / Frank / Tamm 1959 Segrè / Chamberlain 1960 Glaser 1961 Hofstadter / Mössbauer 1962 Landau 1963 Wigner / Goeppert-Mayer / Jensen 1964 Townes / Basov / Prokhorov 1965 Tomonaga / Schwinger / Feynman 1966 Kastler 1967 Bethe 1968 Alvarez 1969 Gell-Mann 1970 Alfvén / Néel 1971 Gabor 1972 Bardeen / Cooper / Schrieffer 1973 Esaki / Giaever / Josephson 1974 Ryle / Hewish 1975 A. Bohr / Mottelson / Rainwater


1976 Richter / Ting 1977 P. W. Anderson / Mott / Van Vleck 1978 Kapitsa / Penzias / R. Wilson 1979 Glashow / Salam / Weinberg 1980 Cronin / Fitch 1981 Bloembergen / Schawlow / K. Siegbahn 1982 K. Wilson 1983 Chandrasekhar / Fowler 1984 Rubbia / Van der Meer 1985 von Klitzing 1986 Ruska / Binnig / Rohrer 1987 Bednorz / Müller 1988 Lederman / Schwartz / Steinberger 1989 Ramsey / Dehmelt / Paul 1990 Friedman / Kendall / R. Taylor 1991 de Gennes 1992 Charpak 1993 Hulse / J. Taylor 1994 Brockhouse / Shull 1995 Perl / Reines 1996 D. Lee / Osheroff / R. Richardson 1997 Chu / Cohen-Tannoudji / Phillips 1998 Laughlin / Störmer / Tsui 1999 't Hooft / Veltman 2000 Alferov / Kroemer / Kilby

2001– present

2001 Cornell / Ketterle / Wieman 2002 Davis / Koshiba / Giacconi 2003 Abrikosov / Ginzburg / Leggett 2004 Gross / Politzer / Wilczek 2005 Glauber / Hall / Hänsch 2006 Mather / Smoot 2007 Fert / Grünberg 2008 Nambu / Kobayashi / Maskawa 2009 Kao / Boyle / Smith 2010 Geim / Novoselov 2011 Perlmutter / Riess / Schmidt 2012 Wineland / Haroche 2013 Englert / Higgs 2014 Akasaki / Amano / Nakamura 2015 Kajita / McDonald 2016 Thouless / Haldane / Kosterlitz 2017 Weiss / Barish / Thorne

v t e

Branches of physics


Applied Experimental Theoretical

Energy Motion

Thermodynamics Mechanics


Ballistics Lagrangian Hamiltonian

Continuum Celestial Statistical Solid Fluid Quantum

Waves Fields

Gravitation Electromagnetism Optics

Geometrical Physical Nonlinear Quantum

Quantum field theory Relativity

Special General

By speciality

Accelerator Acoustics Astrophysics

Nuclear Stellar Heliophysics


Space Astroparticle

Atomic–molecular–optical (AMO) Communication Computational Condensed matter

Mesoscopic Solid-state Soft

Digital Engineering Material Mathematical Molecular Nuclear Particle


Plasma Polymer Statistical

in life science


Virophysics Biomechanics

Medical physics

Cardiophysics Health physics Laser medicine Medical imaging‎ Nuclear medicine Neurophysics Psychophysics

with other sciences





Chemical Econophysics Geophysics Physical chemistry

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