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Episode Notes

Episode Title: About Majors: What is Physics? With Prof. Sridhara Dasu, University of Wisconsin Madison.

Episode summary introduction: The goal of this series is to serve as a primer for High Schoolers about a Major, through our conversations with Faculty Experts in the various US Colleges and Universities.

We kick off this series with Physics in this podcast with Professor Sridhara Dasu, Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • What is Physics?
  • A Brief History of Physics
  • Branches of Physics
  • Skills Needed to Study College Physics
  • Opportunities for Physics Majors

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introducing Prof. Sridhara Dasu, UW Madison [0:49]
  • What is Physics? [2:48]
  • A Brief History of Physics [3:42]
  • Areas of Physics - By Scale [6:53]
  • Impact of Curiosity-driven Physics in our Lives  [12:30]
  • Hot Areas of Physics Research [16:52]
  • Prepping for Physics in High School [26:19]
  • Undergraduate Study of Physics [29:47]
  • Opportunities for a Physics Major [32:17]
  • Prof Dasu’s Physics Journey [36:06]

Our Guest: Dr Sridhara Dasu, Chair of the Physics Department, University of Wisconsin Madison.

Memorable Quote: “it's very hard to stay in physics,... you know, get into physics, if you like, if you don't have that spark and interest in the subject matter. So most people are very driven. They're pretty good at what they're doing. So I think getting to meet the smart people, work alongside them, argue with them, have dinner with them in nice places in Geneva...”.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Prof Dasu  0:14  

Physics is learnt in a very bizarre way. You teach high school physics, we do the same thing again, we call it introductory sequence of physics and in the college, and then once more, which we call the undergraduate sequence. And then we do again the same thing. All graduate curricula do the same thing, where every time you do it, that's slightly more sophisticated mathematics, slightly more sophisticated concepts.

Venkat  0:49  [Introducing Prof Sridhara Dasu, UW Madison]

That is Prof Sridhara Dasu of the University of Wisconsin Madison.

I am your host, Venkat Raman.

Today, with this Episode on Physics, we are launching a special podcast series on “College Majors”.

The goal of this series is to serve as a primer for High Schoolers about a Major, through our conversations with Faculty Experts in the various US Colleges and Universities.

We kick off this series with Prof Sridhara Dasu, Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

In this Podcast, Prof Dasu takes us through a brief History of Physics, the different areas of Physics, to the preparation needed to study Physics in College and the available opportunities when you graduate with a Physics degree.

So, without further ado, here’s Prof Dasu!

Prof Dasu  1:55  

Hello...

Venkat Raman  1:57  

Hello, Dr. Dasu. Welcome back. Welcome back to our podcast, and exciting to have you back to talk about physics, and something that you've done all your life. So I thought we could take the opportunity to tell high schoolers who might be wondering what physics is or think they're pretty good at it, what it's all about, and from someone who's been practicing for the last three, four decades. So thank you for doing this.

Prof Dasu  2:27  

Thank you. And thank you for inviting me. I think it's a pleasure all this to talk to you. And certainly, it's a pleasure to talk to the young people.

Venkat Raman  2:37  

Fantastic. Okay, so um, I thought the best place to start is a simple question. It shouldn't be a complicated thing to answer. But, What is Physics?

Prof Dasu  2:48  [What is Physics?]

Well, Physics is everything to me. But I think I would like to say that the goal of Physics is to understand nature at its most fundamental level, I focus on sizeless particles, but others focus on the entire cosmos. This type of understanding is achieved by a complex interplay of mathematical models, which we call theoretical physics. And experimental observations that you make in laboratory are using the universe itself as a laboratory. So physics is basically a study of nature. So it's everything in some sense. It's certainly everything to Physicists.

Venkat Raman  3:34  

Of course, of course.

Venkat Raman  3:39  

What is the History of Physics?

Prof Dasu  3:42  [A Brief History of Physics]

Well, it's a long history. So it's kind of hard to summarize in a sentence or two, but I think the one way you could characterize it is by using the length scales or the energy scales or time windows that are measurable, experimental science, right. So it has to be something measurable. So let's move over in terms of the length scales that can be measured. So when, long time ago, the history wise, you know, if we didn't have anything but your but your feet, you measure things that foot level or something, and maybe you can extrapolate that the size of trees or size of something farther away, and so on. So that led to classical physics. So that's, that's where it started. So I would say that physics, the history of fluids, gradients from the history of humankind, if you like the intelligent life of humans, I think that's where the history begins. But I think it's, it's good to think about it in terms of wherever the our ability to make better measurements, in terms of innovation of instruments, or some new discoveries or some ideas and things like that. I think led to spurts of growth. And those markers are there. So there are many, but you can go where those markers and that tells you what the history is. They start off with human scale things covered a little bit about classical mechanics and then the Celestial Mechanics

Prof Dasu  5:26  

Plus with the invention for instance of the microscope and telescope will change things both in classical mechanics and celestial mechanics a while ago.

Prof Dasu  5:41  

And and then came others instrumentation, we could try start looking into the depths of atomic structure, if you like, late 19th century because of our ability to use spectroscopy, as we call it.

Prof Dasu  6:01  

So there's, it's all has to do with what you can measure. At the moment, we can measure things to ridiculously high precision in terms of, for instance, if you look at it in terms of time, we're talking about femtosecond or sub-femtosecond type of resolution. So it's more as a result, there's a lot of new things that we discovered which are not perceptible the human eye. So anyway, I went through the history from, from big scale all the way to small scale so that we can get to know that's that's history of Physics.

Venkat Raman  6:40  

What are the different areas of physics that are prevalent today? I mean, obviously, what what is available and what people might be studying now or focusing on now.

Prof Dasu  6:53  [Areas of Physics - By Scale]

Okay, so maybe we can go through again, from the scale point of view, because I started with physics, based on the length scale, so let's start with that. So the physics that I have engaged in for the past 35 years or so is called particle physics. We're basically dealing with material, energy quanta, which basically have no size, these are sizeless particles. They are so small that size is an irrelevant question.

Prof Dasu  7:32  

Then, slightly larger than that would be the nuclear scale. It's, it's called Fermi scale, 10 to the minus 15 meters, just to give you a measure in terms of the units that are measurable, like the length of our arms will be about a meter or so 10 minus 15. So you're really, really small scale for nuclear physics is the physics that matters there.

Prof Dasu  8:02  

The next scale, let's say atomic scale, angstrom scale, as you call it. 10 minus 10 meters. There's interesting physics at atomic level that you can study.

Prof Dasu  8:18  

Crystals you can study, condensed matter physics, that's nanoscale physics. You probably, young people hearing have probably heard about nanotechnology stuff. That's nano scale physics in action if you like, we'll be able to build nanoscale machines and make, make lots of science fiction, movies, and so on so forth. It's fun stuff, though, but interesting things happen at nano scale. And we can use that to tame nature, if you like.

Prof Dasu  8:50  

We could go microscale even, that was the technology that we are using, for instance, to record this and available to everybody around the world, right? There's a lot there in terms of condensed matter physics, there's always innovation in that area. And that's been going on for over 100 years now.

Prof Dasu  9:14  

And then there is macroscale physics, you know, there are interesting forms of matter, for instance, ionized plasma matter. There are large clusters of it everywhere in the wider universe, but we've also created in labs and this charged particle, clouds, if you like, or large, macroscale physics. It's interesting because you can manipulate them with magnets and electrical fields. So you can actually use it for new technologies, for instance, maybe bring the sun to our laboratory by recreating a nuclear fusion and maybe harvest some energy out of it. That's been good. For some years, so that's plasma physics.

Prof Dasu  10:06  

And astrophysics itself that you can study distance stars and how they're formed and the mechanisms of fairly high energy there, but we're talking about sizes on the scale of, you know, normally people measure it in terms of kilo parsecs and stuff, top 10, or the 20 meters. So from 10 to minus 15 meters, rather the 10 to 20 meters, but doesn't stop there, it extends to the entire universe. If you look at our visible universe, because the speed of light is sort of a maximum that you can not travel faster than that so no information goes faster than that, therefore, the size of universe can be calculated that's on the door of 10 to the 27 meters, right? 10 power 27 meters! So.

Prof Dasu  10:53  

We do everything from sizeless stuff all the way to the entire universe. So there's physics to be done at every one of those scales. You could do it and theoretical study, you can do it computationally, you can do it experimentally, at at all these scales, experiment, observation flight. So we could talk about low energy politics in terms of atomic condensed matter in plasma physics, or high energy physics and astrophysics or particle physics, or particle astrophysics, and cosmology. So those are the fundamental areas that people sort of work in lately. And then there are lots of other areas that you can think of they are. you're applying physics to various other domain sciences, for instance, biological physics, or biochemistry has some people, physics techniques are used there. Sometimes they are called Applied Physics, sometimes they're called chemical physics and so on, so forth. But the idea is that at the scales that we normally operate at, there are quite a few applications. Therefore, all disciplines sort of have something tagged on with physics next to it, if you like.

Venkat Raman  12:10  

How has, in your opinion, physics sort of impacted our lives? How does it enable things? You know, what, for the last, obviously, for the last couple of centuries, certainly before that, but at least in the, in the near term, in the last few decades, how do you think this has empowered us?

Prof Dasu  12:30  [Impact of Curiosity-driven Physics in our Lives]

Okay, so some time ago, people questioned, you know, why do we even want to talk about electron or electricity and things like that. But these days you can't do a thing without that. Right? Right. Difficult to see what curiosity driven science physics in particular, is gonna yield in terms of our future technologies or whatever. But I think that it's quite clear looking at the history of physics, like you know, the Curiosity driven physicists' work has impacted various technologies. And I think that's because of the people there are curiosity driven, they innovate when there is needed the working at the forefront of technologies and there is no technology which can let them do something they are so driven, that they actually learned something. And this has happened again, and again. And and as a result, all sorts of applications, which impact humanity in various ways.

Prof Dasu  13:41  

Let's think healthcare think of X rays, for instance, or MRI or anything like that, you know, all those things have started nuclear magnetic resonance, did not happen because somebody decided, Okay, we need to understand how the brain works, but rather, as because people want to understand what these magnetic resonances are. And they came about from the idea of trying to understand the nuclear physics better and understand the the effects of magnetic fields on the atomic, nuclear structural battle and so on, so forth.

Prof Dasu  14:19  

So I think that working on forefront of technology, challenging yourself to understand something deeply, almost always leads to innovation, which has broader applications, of course, you know, other people are involved in carrying out engineering of it or making it more application specific. So you can do stuff. But a lot of it started from physics.

Prof Dasu  14:44  

Semiconductor industry, for instance, you know, majority of those studies were driven originally, even to this day, right? If you're looking at magnetic storage. Well, physics studies all sorts of detail, properties of materials ... because of the science interest. And it ends up eventually in being used in an application for making more denser storage system for you and so on so forth.

Venkat Raman  15:19  

True, I mean, I would think the NASA program, if you went back to the late in the 60s, I mean, again, they're also driven by a lot of stuff that we had learned. You know, post World War Two, right?

Prof Dasu  15:35  

Absolutely. I think that the story of NASA, you know, they're, they're driven by exploration ideas, but again, pushing the frontiers of technology. And I want to go where nobody has gone before, as well. Yeah, to deal with the high radiation environment. So right out NASA's efforts, it would have been very hard to make electronics that works in space.

Prof Dasu  16:05  

You know, you can't possibly drive around the town anywhere in the United States, or Europe, or India, or wherever we are without satellite technology these days, right. You know, that came about because of that type of innovation driven by It's driven individuals who innovate and yeah.

Venkat Raman  16:29  

What do you see as some of the hot areas of research right now? And as they spill over to the next couple of decades? What is what is what should be interesting to kids today who are in high school and who maybe come and study physics? And what are the kinds of things that are open to them?

Prof Dasu  16:52  [Hot Areas of Physics Research]

So I guess I would use term super cool areas, we're really talking about really cold technologies, we're talking about milli Kelvin temperatures, right, you know,

Prof Dasu  17:04  

Kelvin scale is zero, of course, is unreachable, and everything comes to a standstill, that's the lowest possible temperature, right? There is a milli Kelvin temperature, so very, very close to absolute zero temperatures at those temperatures. People have shown only in recent times the past few decades. If you look at the past decade, if you look at Nobel prizes, you will see many of them have gone to people who figured out how to manipulate single atoms or a cluster of atoms, or maybe create nano structures at a very fine level. All of them, of course, you know, you don't want thermal vibrations to manipulate the system. So you want to make an absolutely call to micro Kelvin temperatures. And once you have these clusters of atoms, small numbers of them, then you can in a controlled fashion, then you can manipulate their quantum states, where you can store all sorts of information in this quantum states and manipulate it. So that's a new way of creating gate arrays, if you like, what I will write your chips and so on. But you do that using quantum information now, which is interesting, because instead of just using zero and one, you can use a state which is zero or one all but only when you decide to measure it. And in the midst of it called computation, if you like you can have it and overlap state of zero and one control by technology if you like. So you can do some calculations, which are very difficult to do in normal computers using this type of quantum computer. So that's a big deal right now. And you know, for instance, in my university, we just started a program called Masters of Science, Master of Physics in quantum,  quantum computing. These programs are very interesting for young people coming in and learning about quantum mechanics and things like that. But it's immediately tried to apply it to something which is not done before. In quantum information science that's big. You could you know, but old timers like me will call it a fad. But I think the last thing which is involved now, that's a big deal. I think it may have an impact. I don't know.

Prof Dasu  19:25  

20-30 years ago, maybe even 40 years ago, nuclear fusion was a big deal. And has been elusive, has ever said this extremes is not that easy. So it takes time and effort and yeah, plasma science trying to do nuclear fusion. While that may happen is we're getting closer and closer to it happening. So the new ideas there are possible from an application point of view that will work.

Prof Dasu  19:57  

In my own area in particle physics. We recently discovered our fundamental particle called the Higgs Boson, which the big deal with was that's the last thing. In the story that we know of works extremely well in describing everything that we know of, in parameters. Right now, it's called a standard model of physics. It's kind of a very arcane word, but it's about the fundamental theory. But you know, that's what nature seems to like. But you know, some of us are so arrogant, as Physicists, we think that nature is unnatural. particular theory is rather unnatural in the sense that we are not able to tame it with our mathematical ideas. So Physicists have long succeeded in building theories based on symmetries, and based on certain general principles. And the general principles are basically all drive towards one thing, it's a very reductionist philosophy, as you would call it, we're trying to describe the phenomena that we observed, complex, maybe, but based on a very simple equation with nice symmetries, and very, very few parameters.Right. It turns out that the standard model is not particularly nice, has way too many parameters. And these parameters don't have values that we think are natural. And Higgs Boson that we discovered, puts us in a fairly unnatural spot. So we expected that we will find new particles at this collider that we work at in Geneva. It's the largest collider that humans have built a gigantic machine, very expensive machine, and it took many years to build it. I've been at it since 1993. So it's been a while. And we didn't find this new particles that we expected, if the theory would be natural. So we are a little bit miffed that nature is not being cooperative. Okay.

Prof Dasu  22:26  

I don't know how much time we have left. But I have another story to tell on that in that regard. So there are some observations which don't quite fit into the standard model that we have in understanding of life at the particle level where the size doesn't matter. And the one aspect that we don't understand, which is observed in the cosmos, is the rotation of the galaxies do not quite fit in. You know, we can describe it basically, using Newton's laws, fairly straightforward stuff you will work you will learn in high school physics. But these rotational curves don't seem to work correctly. And many years ago, almost 50 years ago, it was discovered, there Rubin one of the people who make very careful measurements of that it was discovered by Fritz, while before that. But anyway, well, Rubin did this very careful measurements. And we feel that there are some other matter, which is sitting around in galaxies. But it's so massive is what we think that it doesn't move around very much compared to particles. So just sitting there as if it's glue everywhere, and we call it Dark Matter. It's dark because it doesn't interact with or with ordinary matter as strongly therefore, we don't see it to interact, if we have to see it. But maybe it interacts extremely feebly. Well, we've been doing experiments to try to look for this feeble bumps that you can get from galactic dark metal going through our sensitive detectors. That's just been going on it's possible if there is a feeble interaction like that we should be able to produce extremely rarely, these dark matter particles in in, in collisions at the experiment, let's say that we are working in Geneva, or they will be these collisions happening in some other distant star or something and we see actually real particles rather than the dark particles in our detector. So we've been there, various ways we are homing in on this dark matter as a particle.

Prof Dasu  24:53  

I just talked about quantum information and it turns out that quantum information science can be applicable From from the point of view of computation, but it's also very interesting that you can make very, very sensitive detectors using quantum ology, because you're looking at very, very cold technology, it's not going to write much, and you have this quantum state and you can project and one way or the other or something. So you can actually do very, very careful measurements. So the idea is that maybe if dark matter is not heavy enough, and that's in the sense of disturbing a cold nucleus, for us to be able to use particle physics techniques to find it, maybe it is in a different energy regime, and it will excite some, some have cavity that microwaves or something like that. If we have something like that these cold technologies can help the quantum information technologies can help. So there's a matter there. So we're homing in various ways in the on this dark matter. And that would be an emerging field where there may be a discovery coming up in the next few years. That's a possibility. But then, you know, if I knew what the future is, I wouldn't bother right? We have to do the experiment, we'll do the modeling to figure out what ventures about, that's a good thing about science, and there's no end to it. You can just have fun forever.

Venkat Raman  26:19  [Prepping for Physics in High School]

So I'm going to switch gears and say now that, you know, you're excited people with all sorts of possibilities, right?

Let's talk to this kid who is in high school [who] seems to like physics. What does he or she need when they enter college so that they can study physics? And also, while in college, what are they studying? I mean, what does it look like?

Prof Dasu  26:46  

Well, let me start with basic thing that you should pick up by the end of high school, if you like, is basically the ability to persist and solve a problem. That is absolutely critical. What the problem is, in principle does not matter as much. But that persistence is what I think is the most important thing. If you're willing to spend time and effort to get to an answer, that's the most important thing in my opinion.

And the next thing that I would say, which is different from school, to studying physics, and college, is the ability to abstract reasoning. And to drill down to the core of a problem, you know, there's lots of things happening, you know, if you take any of the physics problems start about saying that ignore the resistance, ignore friction and things like that. Now, those are specifications which are made because that's how you can drill down to the real fundamental discovery for instance, when Galileo observed that an object keeps on moving unless some force acts on it and Newton qualified in wonderful laws that happens all you know it really abstracted away situation right? In reality, you know, he wrote something it'll stop you push something else stop even on a flat ice, you know, push somebody you know, you go somewhere, but eventually the person will stop, right. So abstraction is an important thing, both from an experimental point of view and also in, in certainly model building and theory.

Talking about theory. This is physics is at the end of quantifiable science, you need to have mathematical models. So it's studying mathematics is a necessity. Aptitude for that is necessary, depending on how well you do mathematics, you may become a theoretical versus or an experimental physicist. There's a range there, but without mathematics, it will be very, very difficult. I would say, college level mathematics is an absolute necessity. Therefore, that's something that you should have aptitude for. And it has to be part of your program to have a degree in physics.

Venkat Raman  29:26  

One common kind of myth, or fact, I don't know which one this is, but is that it's physics is difficult, right? And, obviously, you're a physicist, I don't really want you to comment on difficult or easy, but how, you know, what is it like to go through a physics program, undergraduate level?

Prof Dasu  29:47  [Undergraduate Study of Physics]

It is a very rigorous program and if I were to do it all over again, I have to think twice because the amount of time and effort that's needed in the initial stages Could be daunting, especially in this day and age when you can get to certain things very quickly, because there is information everywhere. And you can process it very quickly using tools and so on. But to actually imbibe it in your brain and for you to follow what's going on, it takes a little bit of effort to get physics knowledge, whereas it's a lot easier to do fancy things. Like say, on a computer, using the wonderful tools that there are that others have built for you. So it's a bit of a problem there in the sense that you're dealing with very, very simplistic things in some sense, because you're trying to get to the core of something it's at the end of the day, we are reductionist philosophy, tells you that something simple that you're getting at. But it takes a lot of effort to get to that simple thing. Whereas with a simple instruction, you can actually make bizarre things happen on your computer by just typing a few commands and clicking enter, you suddenly have a dancing clown on your desktop. So yeah, in many respects, it's a difficult subject. And it's difficult process of getting there. It's probably not as difficult as wanting to become a, you know, mathematician, but it's getting close to that. Okay.

Prof Dasu  31:24  

Physicists learn in a very bizarre way. You teach high school physics, we do the same thing. Again, we call it introductory sequence of physics, in the college, and then once more, which we call the undergraduate sequence. And then we do again, the same thing. All graduate curricula, do the same thing, where every time you do it, but slightly more sophisticated mathematics, slightly more sophisticated concepts, and so on, so forth.

Venkat Raman  31:58  

Two things. One is, what kind of career can a undergraduate degree in physics buy you. And then also talk a little bit about the determin.., determination whether to sort of go ahead and, you know, do a graduate program or not? Those would be, sort of, some of the big questions.

Prof Dasu  32:17  [Opportunities for a Physics Major]

Okay, let's get started every high school student desk entering our university. When they come in, if they stop by their desk, where they're present in the undergraduate physics major to the incoming Freshman, let's start from there. So we we tell people that, hey, do you want to do physics, we really want you to come join us. By the way, you should do the following set of mathematics courses, maybe you want to add a course in statistics, or certainly you need to do a course in computer programming. So maybe you want to learn how to program in Java and Python, and C++ and Python or something like that. So we have all sorts of other things that they have to do, in addition to all the Physics. Now, those requirements, again, technical requirements, are very important in becoming a physicist in the modern age. But they're also useful in many respects.

Prof Dasu  33:15  

First of all, as an undergraduate, he can get a math major, and a computer science major, or statistics major alongside physics major, because you would have done some set of courses there, which can qualify you for that. It's a good thing, because you really don't know when you want to become a physicist, in some sense. You may even find out after you get a physics major, you know what, I really think that I want to be more applied, I want to go and work on material science. Or maybe you may even decide that I really think that I should go and work on developing instrumentation for medical physics, or something in medical science or something like that.

Prof Dasu  34:00  

So it's, there's a wide variety of graduate level study that is that physics majors can go to, and usually, they're welcome. Because it's usually very difficult for somebody let's say, in who's recruiting for a program and in radiation therapy, a know they're trying to recruit somebody who's a, who knows a little bit about human biology, but then you don't have sufficient physics background. And it's hard to do radiation related work without having the physics background. So if you don't have biology background, but you only have physic background and say I want to become a somebody studying radiation related medical technology, they'll say yes, they will teach you biology you can learn it by reading yourself but that which good you have Physics, so come on board. So that kind of thing works out. And again, having mathematical knowledge allows you to go and branch out into all sorts of areas.

Prof Dasu  35:10  

So I think that's an important aspect to remember that there is no limit to what you can do with a physics degree because you have learnt alongside several other tools on physical sciences, and they're broadly applicable in biological sciences. I usually joke with my students that come on board, you know, try it out, you'll get your PhD at some point, you may decide that, you know, I don't want to do physics anymore, because I've had it. All what happens is your salary will double, you can do that whenever you feel like and your salary will double, whether you leave as a grad student, or they leave as a PhD or whether you leave a postdoc. It always happens. Okay.

Venkat Raman  35:54  

Okay, so you're basically saying that physics, whether you become a physicist or not, you have ample opportunities both ways.

Venkat Raman  36:06  [Prof Dasu’s Physics Journey]

So I think I think what, what would be very nice, before we wrap up things, here is a little bit about what got you into physics. And tell us a little bit about you know, when you figured out that you wanted to stay a physicist, then we become academics, you know, get into academics and become a professor. How did that, how did you figure that out?

Prof Dasu  36:34  

Alright, so I should say that I wanted to become an academic first, because I just enjoyed the idea of learning for learnings sake. Right? But I had a choice I had to get a science degree many years ago, and in university in India, that I went to, Osmania University, they had, yeah, mathematics, chemistry, and physics, all three are equal footing for Bachelor's degree. And I did best in chemistry. I was pretty good at mathematics. But my weakest subject was physics. So I said, Hey, I have to pursue this and master it. And that's what got me into physics. That item, it's it was the most difficult are the three things that I had, in some sense. And I was lucky without realizing that that persistence to understand is what will get the answer. But I got into it, I went to get a master's degree in physics. And I thought that the most weird thing that I don't understand is particle physics. And so I decided to go to particle physics.

Prof Dasu  37:50  

And when did I decide I want to be in academics? And so that was a long time ago, but to actually get into academics is not necessarily easy, because the competition is extremely severe. But it's, it's always rewarding, whether you make it or you don't make it, I have many friends who didn't make it in Physics, but they went off to do all sorts of other things. There are some who are working on the Wall Street, or some are working in the Silicon Valley. And they all still are very happy that they got a PhD in physics. And they're successful because of that. I talked to a lot of people who donate dollars to the physics department, chair of the department here in Wisconsin, and many of those people got their PhDs or bachelor's degrees, or whatever they gotca from us, Wisconsin, and they become very successful CEOs or whatever. And they made a lot of money in the industry, and they want to give back because they think that this is a great preparation for science and technology career.

Venkat Raman  38:56  

Now, was there a, was there a point in time or a process of event or however, that you felt that, you know, you're really good at it? This is, you know, this is what I'm going to stick with. But was there anything like that was a was there an epiphany or an aha moment Or is it sort of just something that happened?

Prof Dasu  39:15  

Oh, I think it just happened over a long period of time. And I don't think there was ever an epiphany for me, I wouldn't say that's always the case. But in my case, it was just hard work. That's what it is. You're in the thick of it, then, you know, sometimes you're doing technical things which have nothing to do with physics in some sense. But other times you're doing scientifically meaningful things which are abstract from physics point of view, it all has to be interesting, and you need to be able to pursue it. So I don't think that there was an epiphany for me at a particular moment. But some may have had it Yes.

Venkat Raman  39:54  

Finally, the last question for you is that you know, you've been doing this for years. 35 plus years. I'm assuming you're enjoying it, and enjoying it every day. So what has been the most satisfying part for you, being a physicist?

Prof Dasu  40:13  

I think unquestionably is getting to meet smart people. A, it's very hard to stay in physics and or, you know, get into physics if you like if you're, if you don't have that spark and interest in the subject matter. So most people are very driven. They're pretty good at what they're doing. So I think getting to meet the smart people walk alongside them, argue with them, have dinner with them in nice places in Geneva that I go to. Or even in California, that's where we met. I wanted to work at the Stanford Linear Accelerator center first few years. So that's the way liking best people and places where we do physics, which which is probably the most satisfying part of being a Physicist.

Venkat Raman  41:03  

Very good. So Dr. Basu, this has been fabulous. I thank you for taking the time to explain to lay people what physics is. And I hope that all our listeners First, get informed and then hopefully inspired to take the next step and study physics or at least explore it deeper. So thank you again for your time. And I'm sure we'll talk more, but for now, take care. Be safe.

Prof Dasu  41:32  

Thank you very much Venkat. So thank you for thinking of me to talk about this topic, which is near and dear to me.

Venkat Raman  41:40  

Absolutely. Thank you. Bye.

Prof Dasu  41:43  

Bye. Bye.

Venkat  41:49

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Prof Dasu on Physics.

Prof Dasu gave us a great overview of Physics, the opportunities and what it takes to do undergraduate study in Physics.

I hope this podcast gave you a good perspective on Physics and inspired you to explore more.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io] with the Subject: Physics.

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

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