In Summary - Particle Physicist
Particle Physicists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Particle Physicist
Particle physicists study the elementary constituents of matter and radiation. This work is heavily involved in ascertaining what exactly lies beyond the ‘Standard Model’ which is the fundamental structure used by physicists which describes only 4% of the universe.
Particle physicists tend to choose one of two main career paths: experimental particle physics, and theoretical particle physics.
The work involves striving to discover things such as higher energies, extra dimensions, reasons for the levels of matter in space and the answer as to why is gravity so weak?
As a particle physicist, you will work with pioneering technologies such as high-energy colliders to investigate the inner workings of quantum mechanics and more high-energy physics. Also, you may incorporate other fields such as astronomy into your research, working with cosmic rays from outer space and solar radiation.
Research in this field can lay down the foundations for many other disciplines of science, including chemistry, quantum mechanics, and general relativity.
Particle physicists who have drawn the interest of other scientists and the media may be invited to give presentations or proposals at annual conferences and seminars around the globe in order to communicate their research.
Career opportunities for Particle Physicists are generally in academia and research. Employment can also be found in laboratories with facilities for creating high energy collisions.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
- Describe and express observations and conclusions in mathematical terms.
- Analyze data from research conducted to detect and measure physical phenomena.
- Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.
- Design computer simulations to model physical data so that it can be better understood.
- Collaborate with other scientists in the design, development, and testing of experimental, industrial, or medical equipment, instrumentation, and procedures.
- Direct testing and monitoring of contamination of radioactive equipment, and recording of personnel and plant area radiation exposure data.
- Observe the structure and properties of matter, and the transformation and propagation of energy, using equipment such as masers, lasers, and telescopes to explore and identify the basic principles governing these phenomena.
- Develop theories and laws on the basis of observation and experiments, and apply these theories and laws to problems in areas such as nuclear energy, optics, and aerospace technology.
- Teach physics to students.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Interests - Particle Physicist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
To become a particle physicist it is necessary to be strong willed, inquisitive and determined in your work into developing and broadening the current research in this area.
Excellence in critical thinking and experimental methods along with dedication are vital.
Excellent communication skills both written and oral are essential in order to convey your findings to team members or possibly in a lecturing capacity.
An aptitude for maths and specifically statistics is required for this area of work.
Particle physicists must possess the ability to work within a team environment but also work independently on research projects.
Entry Requirements - Particle Physicist
A background in physics is necessary for a career in particle physics. A minimum of a masters degree is required in order to enter the workforce as a particle physicist.
Relevant level 8 degree courses are available from a range of universities and IoTs.
You can then further your studies to masters level in an area more specifically focused on particle physics, with a range of similar universities and IoTs offering postgraduate courses.
In order to progress and become a particle physicist, you need extensive knowledge of the quantum field theory, gauge theory, and the Higgs mechanism.
A Ph.D. is required in order to reach a high level position in this field such as lecturing. UCD School of Physics provides supervised doctoral studies in particle physics.
Last Updated: November, 2014