The Big Bang Theory Guide to Science

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TV SITCOMS AREN’T UNNECESSARILY UNREALISTIC – CASE IN POINT, THE BIG BANG THEORY, BECAUSE YOU CAN BE A SCIENTIST LIKE ANY OF ITS CHARACTERS, IN REAL LIFE. APARNA SUNDARESAN TELLS YOU HOW

Sheldon Cooper Theoretical physicist

Theoretical physicists use theories, mathematical models and concepts to explain and predict phenomena

Core skills  Mathematical, computational and computer skills; knowledge of experimentation methods because theory and experiment are equally important

Popular topics
Loop quantum gravity: redefines modern theory of gravity by assuming that the universe is not a continuous fabric but made up of small, discrete chunks Elementary particle theory: the universe is made up of particles that have no constituent smaller particles; these particles are quarks, leptons and bosons String theory: the building blocks of the universe are onedimensional strings that vibrate at specific frequencies
Study route

* BSc physics (with maths)/BSc applied maths (with physics)
* MSc physics (in your area of interest)
* PhD

Specialisations: astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, geophysics, material science, nuclear physics, optics, particle physics, plasma physics and many more

Universities California Institute of Technology (USA), Heidelberg University (Germany), Oxford University (UK), University of Zurich (Switzerland)

Careers Research associate, college professor, resident physicist in labs/research bodies/universities, industryspecific roles as per specialisation

Famous theoretical physicists Pythagoras, Archimedes, Nicolaus  Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday (also experimental physicists)

Leonard Hofstadter Experimental physicist

Experimental physicists rely on experiments and observations to gather data that explain phenomena

Core skills
Familiarity with devices and apparatuses; computer and programming skills, including knowledge of electronics; engineering and mechanical skills; knowledge of theories and their applications

Popular topics
Study of particle physics based on the experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland Study of radiation using specialised radiation detectors Study of matter under extreme conditions like ultra low or ultra high temperatures with the necessary apparatuses

Study route
* BSc physics (with quantum mechanics or maths)/BSc engineering physics
* MSc physics (in your area of interest)
* PhD
Specialisations: condensed matter physics, subatomic physics, particle physics, experimental astrophysics, medical physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics and many more

Universities The IITs (all  over India), University of Edinburgh (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), Princeton University (USA)

Careers Research associate, college professor, resident
physicist in labs/research bodies/universities, industry-specific roles, technician, engineer

Famous experimental physicists Jagadish Chandra Bose, Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Henri Becquerel, Ernest Rutherford, Nikola Tesla, Enrico Fermi

Rajesh Koothrappali Astrophysicist

Astrophysicists study the physics of the universe and celestial bodies, and investigate the nature, properties and causes of astronomical phenomena

Core skills  Advanced mathematical knowledge (in algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics); understanding of computers and electronics; basic knowledge of astronomy

Popular topics
Investigation of black holes as they are one of the greatest mysteries of the universe
Discovery of other galaxies and planets, especially earth-like planets, and their study
Understanding the origin of the universe, with reference to the LHC experiment at CERN

Study route
* BSc physics (with astrophysics specialisation)
* MSc (a strophysics)
* PhD (in your area of interest)
Astrophysics can also be studied in two ways – observationally or theoretically

Universities Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bangalore), California Institute of Technology (USA), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany), University of York (UK)

Careers Scientist at space research bodies (NASA, ISRO, etc), research associate, college professor, instrument scientist

Famous astrophysicists Edwin Hubble, Johannes Kepler, Edmond Halley, Angers Angstrom, Arthur Eddington, Fritz Zwicky, Gerard Kuiper

Howard Wolowitz Aerospace engineer

An aerospace engineer researches, designs, develops, constructs and tests aircrafts, spacecrafts and their constitutent components

Core skills Excellent mathematical knowledge and ability; knowledge of  computers, programming languages and electronics; basic understanding of  aerodynamic principles

Popular topics
Study of the International Space Station and developing similar space shuttles
Studying, designing and building rockets, satellites, probes, rovers, weather balloons,  etc
Researching ‘green’ aviation – developing and building sustainable environment-friendly aircrafts

Study route
* BE/BTech (specialise in aeronautics, astronautics, space sciences, mechanical or instrumentation engineering)
* MTech/MEng
* PhD (optional)
Aerospace engineering has two components – aeronautics engineering (deals with aircrafts that operate within the Earth’s atmosphere) and astronautics engineering (deals with spacecrafts outside the Earth’s atmosphere)

Universities Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore), the IITs (all over India), Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (Trivandrum), Massachusetts  Institute of Technology (USA), University of Cambridge (UK)

Careers Engineer at space/aviation bodies (NASA, ISRO, etc), aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers, air transport carriers, government agencies and for defence projects

Famous aerospace engineers Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright brothers, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Robert H. Goddard, Neil Armstrong, Kalpana Chawla.

Volume 3 Issue 2

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