When I was a Masters student, I was doing mathematical physics and I was feeling quite lost. I didn’t feel that I was good enough to continue or to outcompete everyone on the path to tenure. Moreover, I wasn’t even as motivated as I used to be – I didn’t see how the stuff I was doing could plausibly help people, and this feeling of uselessness was really daunting. What was worse, I felt that there was no way out. I had already spent so much time studying mathematical physics, how possibly could I do anything else?
Somehow I got accepted to a good Ph.D. program. I was confident that I should just continue doing what I was doing, as it was too late to change tracks. And what else could I do?
Fortunately, I was wrong. I discovered that I could easily fit into theoretical biophysics with my background, and the problems here were even more interesting than in the mathematical physics. Here, I finally see the purpose of my research.
I am writing this series of posts for the people in theoretical physics who experience the same turmoil. I will not try to persuade you that working in biophysics will bring you a career, happiness, or the tools to improve society at large -- though I personally believe this to be true. Instead, I will present you with the problems in biophysics, where the methods of mathematical physics, high energy physics etc. are useful. That problems that are not only fun to solve, but whose solution can also make a big positive impact.
To avoid confusion, I will talk about only the cases where the methods of theoretical physics are useful, not the cases where high energy or quantum effects play a significant role. The latter cases are significantly less common than the former ones.
Each post will be devoted to a particular topic and will review one or few papers on it. If you want me to discuss a particular topic/paper, or find a mistake, or want to contact me for any other reason – just leave a comment. If you are specialist in a particular topic that is relevant to this series and would like to contribute, I will gratefully publish your post.
The first post will appear this weekend.