I posted this on the Physics Site and I was warned that I would be best fit here.

I'm a freshman undergrad and I plan to get a Physics major. I don't know actually in what area I want to follow, I do have an idea that I don't want to be and Experimental Physicist but I'm open to every experience. I know many universities offer their colloquium/talk on the Internet which most of the times I find very interesting and informative, but I find it hard to get to know many good colloquia. I will be very glad if you can recommend me anything that would help me to understand the research fields in Physics and Mathematics.

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    This type of questions is considered off-topic here. This is referred to as shopping question.
    – Coder
    Jul 26 '17 at 16:18
  • I can't really think were I should ask this, I'm truly lost on this question. I can't even find the words to google so I can get anything haha Jul 26 '17 at 16:21
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    Pardon me, I actually read the "What topics can I ask about here?" post now. Can you please tell me in what site my question would fit? Jul 26 '17 at 16:30
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    I am afraid there would be no site (at least with StackExchange) that would suggest you something. Try following good quality research articles from Journals and conferences.
    – Coder
    Jul 26 '17 at 16:53
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    @deckeresq People (we) are always there to help newbies. I was new as well, I learned with comments from the learned and experienced users; and still learning.
    – Coder
    Jul 26 '17 at 19:14

While I agree with Coder's comment that this is probably off-topic here, perhaps I can provide a general answer which would apply to users looking into any new discipline, not just physics or math.

In order to really come to terms with any field, I would recommend the following (in no particular order):

  • Take relevant classes. As an undergrad, this should be extremely easy.
  • Talk to people currently performing research in these fields. This can include your professors or perhaps emailing researchers whose work you've seen and been interested in. This is the option I would suggest most, as you're likely to get a wider array of viewpoints.
  • As Coder mentioned in the comments, go check out some of the recent research papers in your field's top conferences. You'll likely be unable to follow the majority of the work, but you should be able to get a good feel for the general tone of research being done in the field.
  • Per Carol: Attend the colloquia and seminars that the relevant departments host.
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    and attend the colloquia and seminars that your department hosts.
    – Carol
    Jul 26 '17 at 18:24

I think this is a valid question and deserves an answer. As an undergraduate you don't get to choose specialization. If you have some freedom to choose a few electives you should take the ones that would give you competitive advantage (second semester of E&M, QM2, hard math etc...) . If you are looking to go to the graduate school, you'll have to take a thesis option of your bachelor's degree. You will also have senior seminar (or research). Use undergrad research opportunities. Attend conferences. This is where you are going to be exposed to different areas of research and meet people in different fields. Subscribe to "Physics Today". It won't teach you physics but you will get some idea of what physicists are working on today. By your Senior year you will have a very good idea of what you would like to do after graduation.


Since you are eager to know the answer, I would advise the following. When I had started my quest for a topic (research area) to focus on, I did the following:

  • The first point of contact is professors in your own university: I would advise to take an appointment with a few professors and meet with them. Keep the conversation short as they might not entertain you if you start with vague discussions. Better to seek appointment via email (or any other means that your university follows).
  • Attend the talks or seminar of the Ph.D. students and professors in your university. This will boost your willingness to focus more on specific areas. Further, you could talk with Graduate students in your own university related to this.
  • Do some good amount of googling to find out the upcoming conferences, workshops or meetings in which the venue is expecting top researchers of the world in Physics (or Mathematics). Try to meet them and have a brief talk with them.
  • If you have already found something from the internet search or any other means, start following the research papers from the journals or conferences that publish similar stuff.
  • Since you are in freshman year, I would advise against sticking to the one specific research topic. It is time to explore various research fields (or subfields) and find out what you think you could contribute more onto and to the world of research.

Good luck!

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