Theoretical physics is a sub-discipline of physics that concerns the use of mathematics and mathematical models to explain, or predict, natural phenomena. Theoretical physics includes the study of concepts that cannot be tested using conventional methods or experimentation, or at least not in our lifetime. While it has recently been said that theoretical physics is to be phased out, it will undoubtedly return with a bang – present research in experimental physics is on a parallel path to theoretical physics. With the current rate of technological advancement, there will eventually be methods to “test” these some of these theories; albeit in another century or two.
Advancements in theoretical physics is made by observation. Theoretical physicists theorize new concepts, but these are scrutinized through observation and the application of numerous models in mathematics and physics. Although some theories may seem absurd, others have relevance. There are several promising theories, such as: dark matter, the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, and black hole thermodynamics. We do not have the technology or capabilities to test these theories at present, but the logic and reasoning behind them is sound. This is why we aim to instill a critical mind among students during our Physics tuition classes as well, in additional to delivering content.
There exists many approaches that physicists use to create a theory based on mathematical framework. Model-builders, for instance, create models for speculative concepts that have not been tested by experimentation. Similarly, effective theorists develop effective theories that approximate ideas, allowing sufficient degrees of freedom, rather than developing theories that are complete but paradoxical, or extremely complex. Another approach is where theorists rediscover/reinterpret pre-existing theories, or work on unifying multiple theories.
Presently, the field of computational physics has been improving methods of research and provides innovative approaches to the understanding and development of theoretical models. This contemporary technique analyzes the various mathematical components to identify any possible flaws or “rough edges” in the preliminary designs of a theoretical model. Although mathematics is near-flawless, our understanding of mathematics is limited. Therefore, computers are more efficient in scanning for errors in theoretical models. However, computers need to be programmed by people – hence even computers are unable to perform perfect analyses on data.
While there may not currently be many lucrative opportunities in the field of theoretical physics, this trend is starting to see a positive accelerated growth. Due to the higher demand of theoretical physicists to explain discovered phenomena, the job market for theoretical physics will begin to expand. Although typical jobs are limited to research only, contributions to this field can earn one a place in the history books.