Why spend 10 years to get a physics PhD and then go to work for Wall Street?


by pnptruong
Tags: physics, street, wall, work
twofish-quant
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#37
Jun12-10, 11:33 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by StatsGuy View Post
You'd probably be better off getting a PhD in Statistics or Applied Mathematics if you eventually want to work in finance/Wall street.
There are about a dozen ways into finance and Wall Street.
twofish-quant
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#38
Jun12-10, 11:36 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by ferm View Post
I understand the major constraint is being outside the "community", but it usually takes months of full-dedication to have something publishable (and if you take too long, you are likely to get scooped), not to talk about "defending" your work.
In academia, you'll need to author several papers a year, and personally, I think it would be possible to author a paper a year as a "amateur" provided that you were working with co-authors.
ocean drive
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#39
Sep13-10, 01:38 PM
P: 1
Actually, society needs more string theorists and academics working in research in order to develop new technologies for our future. Fundamental physics has the potential to create new technologies like faster ways to bring people, goods and information from point A to point B, alternative and cleaner energy sources and even faster computers.

If every physicist quit physics and went into finance, our society will be in trouble eventually since there will not be enough people working on ways to develop new technologies and products.

Modern society has enough people not producing technology: sportspeople, dancers, artists, gamers, actors, lawyers and people in government. Only people working in industry and manufacturing and those doing research in academia actually develop new technologies.
moogull
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#40
Oct2-10, 01:22 PM
P: 82
Modern society has enough people not producing technology: sportspeople, dancers, artists, gamers, actors, lawyers and people in government. Only people working in industry and manufacturing and those doing research in academia actually develop new technologies.
Amen to that, I have a friend in aero engineering at purdue and he and I always talk about how our society isn't motivating the development and production of new amazing technologies like we have in the past. It's almost like we have lost our competitive edge in science and engineering and put it all in finance and management...

That being said, as a Physics B.S. student (sophomore) I have always liked building things so I have really wanted to be part of engineering projects when I am out of school. But I feel like I am in the wrong position (aka Not a student of engineering) to go into that field. Will I be able to participate in the R&D of products at all? or have I locked myself out by not going to an engineering school as undergrad?
Ryker
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#41
Oct2-10, 01:38 PM
P: 1,089
Quote Quote by moogull View Post
Amen to that, I have a friend in aero engineering at purdue and he and I always talk about how our society isn't motivating the development and production of new amazing technologies like we have in the past. It's almost like we have lost our competitive edge in science and engineering and put it all in finance and management...
Huh? If anything, there's now more people motivated and eager to develop new technologies than there have in the past.
fasterthanjoao
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#42
Oct2-10, 05:31 PM
P: 731
To keep this simple,

Quote Quote by moogull View Post
Will I be able to participate in the R&D of products at all?
Yes, absolutely.

Quote Quote by moogull View Post
or have I locked myself out by not going to an engineering school as undergrad?
No. You'll still have great skills for things like this, and some engineers like to work with physicsts and bring them into work - it's a different way of thinking and can really excel if you choose to make the transition.
twofish-quant
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#43
Oct2-10, 10:59 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by ocean drive View Post
Actually, society needs more string theorists and academics working in research in order to develop new technologies for our future.
I really, really don't think so. You really don't need that many Einsteins to develop new products. One Einstein can produce an idea that changes the world. You do need a ton of finance, marketing, and MBA's to manage production of said product.

Physics is not a warm model problem. You don't need huge numbers of people to think up new ideas, because once one person thinks of a new ideas, then he just needs to write it down and everyone can copy it. Management is a warm body problem. Managing people and cleaning toilets are warm body problems. If you need to clean a toilet, you need to have a person physically there to do the cleaning, so the consequence is that there are more jobs for toliet cleaners than string theorists.

Fundamental physics has the potential to create new technologies like faster ways to bring people, goods and information from point A to point B, alternative and cleaner energy sources and even faster computers.
Not without an economic support structure. If you just have brilliant physicists and a bad economy, it ends up looking like the Soviet Union. A good idea is totally useless.

If every physicist quit physics and went into finance, our society will be in trouble eventually since there will not be enough people working on ways to develop new technologies and products.
You need a lot more physicists in finance than in academia. A lot of finance involves dealing with rather complex equations that describe the world. If you get that wrong, then you send the world into another great depression in which case you don't have money for physicists.

Modern society has enough people not producing technology: sportspeople, dancers, artists, gamers, actors, lawyers and people in government. Only people working in industry and manufacturing and those doing research in academia actually develop new technologies.
Totally false.
twofish-quant
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#44
Oct2-10, 11:09 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by moogull View Post
Amen to that, I have a friend in aero engineering at purdue and he and I always talk about how our society isn't motivating the development and production of new amazing technologies like we have in the past. It's almost like we have lost our competitive edge in science and engineering and put it all in finance and management...
,

I think we should colonize Mars. The problem is that most people in the US when you ask them to pay for it disagree with me. Now I'm not the type of person to just sit back and grumble about this, I want to do something about it, but changing US society so that people think that they ought to be taxed more so that we can colonize Mars involves understanding money and power.

There is the golden rule. People who rule get the gold, and people who have the gold rule. So if you really want to change the world, you just have to get yourself in finance and management. If you think that there should be more jobs in astrophysics, fine, I agree with you. The trouble is that the people making the decisions are people with money and power, and if you want to change society, you just have to get into the meeting rooms with these people and become one of them.
twofish-quant
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#45
Oct2-10, 11:13 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Huh? If anything, there's now more people motivated and eager to develop new technologies than there have in the past.
Also, being motivated and eager to develop new technologies involves hiring lots of people in finance with science and technology skills, because the fundamental decisions involve technical issues. If you are a VC firm you are going to get mobbed with proposals wanting money, and the people making decisions about what EE firm gets the money, tend to be people with large amounts of experience with EE.
twofish-quant
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#46
Oct2-10, 11:47 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by justinlj View Post
i hated it when people who studied science and engineering went on to do business and finance. i believe that many of them left because there werent sufficient opportunities or pay to continue working in science and engineering.
This is false. Modern finance *is* science and engineering.

A modern investment bank and hedge fund are extremely high technology places. Look into a picture of a trading floor what do you see, tons of computers. Everyone in finance is staring at a computer, and inside those computers there are just tens of million lines of code making critical decisions that literal influence the fate of the world. Writing and babysitting computer programs is a huge issue of science and engineering. Every investment bank has got several massive supercomputers with thousands of nodes.

The science comes in because a lot of what these supercomputers do is basically modeling how the world works or is supposed to work.

I really dread the day when all our inventions and discoveries are made by china and india, while the rest of us are busy generating cash out of nowhere and getting ourselves into bigger debt.
Who is "us". There are a lot of people in this group who are Chinese or Indian. If the US self-destructs and leaves India and China in charge of the world, people in India and China won't consider that a bad thing.

One thing about international finance is that you meet lots of people from different countries and people have different viewpoints. If you talk to someone from France, then you figure out that they aren't particularly interested in the well being of people in the United States. Why should they be?

One thing that gives me a smile is "peace through greed." In any multi-national corporation you see lots of people from different countries, with different religions, and different political views, all putting aside their differences to make a ton of money.

i live in a small country, singapore, and even as an undergraduate, i have seen how much science and engineering have declined in my country. singapore is used to be considered one of the four asian tigers which include hong kong(now part of china alr), taiwan and south korea.

in my country here, there has been an exponential increase in people going into finance rather than engineering and science. and our government is trying to make our country into a financial hub like the wall street. just imagine, the whole country, surviving largely on finance.
Ummmm..... It looks like a good decision, Singapore grew at 10% last year. Hong Kong has done the same thing. Singapore and Hong Kong are both city states, and having it be the management and finance centers are a good idea.

i dont think so. because i have only seen so many of our own people losing jobs in economic crisis and our economy is in fact picking itself back far too slowly. that's because we are too largely dependent on the world's economy and we dont produce our own goods and exports anymore.
Singapore and Hong Kong are doing better than the rest of the world, and I really don't think that there really is much of a choice. Singapore and Hong Kong are both much too small to produce its own goods and export.

In the case of Hong Kong, it's part of China, so moving all of the manufacturing slightly up the Pearl River is not a bad thing. To get from HK to the big giant factories that produce the world's stuff is a two hour bus ride.

All that is left in singapore is nothing. despite being a strong economy in asia, we never had any famous consumer brand worldwide or any important scientific discoveries done here.
So partner with someone that's better at science.

that's why i firmly believed that my country could have done better if we had been given more opportunites to become more outstanding engineers and scientists who could make products to be exported rather than having tonnes of bankers and managers trying to shift assests into their own pockets.
Ummmmm...... Singapore grew at 10%/year last year.

I do think that healthy competition is a great thing, and Singapore's big competitor is Hong Kong. HK is doing quite well because it's tightly linked with the manufacturing centers in Dongguan, and people are pushing to interface it with the science centers in Beijing. Singapore has to do something different. A lot of Chinese factories are moving to Indonesia because China is getting too expensive, so there may be some opportunities there. Also Singapore is a lot closer to India and the Middle East than HK is. HK has the backing of the Chinese Communist Party, which is sometimes a good thing, sometimes not. Both HK and Singapore are "neutral territory" but HK is less neutral than Singapore which an advantage and a disadvantage.

Personally, I don't think that HK can by itself become a major center or science and technology. The big problem is that HK is a nice orderly giant gated community, and if you want science and technology to flourish you have to let random people in and put up with more "chaos" than people in HK feel comfortable with. But rather than to it in HK, you can keep the "chaos" in Shenzhen, and figure out how to take advantage of it there.
Shackleford
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#47
Oct4-10, 10:45 PM
P: 1,537
Marxism? Really? -_-
twofish-quant
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#48
Oct5-10, 12:57 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Shackleford View Post
Marxism? Really? -_-
Yes really. I'm quite a devoted fan of Karl Marx. The Marxist idea that the basis of understanding society is to understand economics and class struggle is one of the major reasons why I ended working in finance.

At its core, capitalism consists of the exploitation of the working classes by the power elites. However, the core mistake of Lenin and Trotsky was to believe that you could end this exploitation through revolution. What happened was that after the revolution, you have a new elite that is just as exploitative than the groups they replaced.

Therefore, I think that the way forward is not to try to end exploitation, but to increase the generation of wealth through technology so that you can have massive exploitation yet still create decent standards of living for the proletariat.
G037H3
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#49
Oct5-10, 01:10 AM
P: 326
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Yes really. I'm quite a devoted fan of Karl Marx.
Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Augustus, Ptolemy, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger would like a word or few with you...
twofish-quant
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#50
Oct5-10, 01:16 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by G037H3 View Post
Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Augustus, Ptolemy, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger would like a word or few with you...
We've already spoken to each other.....
G037H3
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#51
Oct5-10, 01:19 AM
P: 326
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
We've already spoken to each other.....
I don't think you really listened
MaxManus
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#52
Oct10-10, 03:20 PM
P: 297
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Therefore, I think that the way forward is not to try to end exploitation, but to increase the generation of wealth through technology so that you can have massive exploitation yet still create decent standards of living for the proletariat.
Isn't this the standard marked liberal view?
Shackleford
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#53
Oct10-10, 05:53 PM
P: 1,537
Quote Quote by MaxManus View Post
Isn't this the standard marked liberal view?
Not really. They want to curb exploitation and give the wealth to the "rightful owners" primarily through redistribution at the hands of the state. This is more modern "socialism," not Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc. For now anyway, I doubt we'll see murderous mobs who kill capitalists and anyone who appears to be intelligent. I'm a bit confused by twofish. It seems she's a capitalist at heart with a Marxist facade, i.e. "I feel for the little guy, but the only way he can increase his wealth is if the fat cats increase theirs." Isn't this something like trickle-down economics?

Marx was basically incorrect in this theory. The suppositions for his theories are antithetical to fundamental American political philosophy (right to property, individual ownership, and so forth).

I forget the details from my intermediate macro course, but I believe something like 2/3 of GDP is labor. So, clearly, the proletariat benefits disproportionally, but this vast wealth is spread out over a greater number of people. Isn't this preferable and perhaps even intrinsic distribution of wealth akin to the re-distribution of wealth so clamored for?
twofish-quant
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#54
Oct10-10, 10:21 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Shackleford View Post
Not really. They want to curb exploitation and give the wealth to the "rightful owners" primarily through redistribution at the hands of the state.
I'm a Marxist. I'm not a leftist. The danger of state redistribution is that if you don't have controls on the state, you end up with a new ruling class, and there are a lot of well known problems with central planning.

This is more modern "socialism," not Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.
It's actually quite Marxist, although most modern socialist parties try very hard to hide their Marxist foundations. What happened in the 1920's was that the Marxist parties split into two groups, the Leninist ones and the democratic socialist ones. One thing that is quite interesting is to go back in time, even to the 1960's or to the 1920's when you had people in the British Labour Party and German Social Democrats wave red flags and carry pictures of Marx and Engels.

I'm a bit confused by twofish. It seems she's a capitalist at heart with a Marxist facade
I'm a he. It's quite the opposite. I'm a Marxist at heart with a capitalist facade. The thing that I like doing is to read lots of people, and then combine ideas in very weird and unexpected ways. So I'm both a fan of Lev Trotsky and Ronald Reagan.

Marx was basically incorrect in this theory. The suppositions for his theories are antithetical to fundamental American political philosophy (right to property, individual ownership, and so forth).
Which theory? Marx said a whole bunch of things. Some of which I agree with, some of which I don't. The part that I do agree strongly with is the importance of economic and social class in explaining how societies work. I agree with it strongly because it fits a lot with what I see.

Also, property is much more complex than it first appears, as is ownership. Most assets in the United States aren't controlled by individuals but by corporations. I'm actually quite cynical about how things work in politics and economics. If you put enough TV ads and argue in the right way, you can market anything as part of American political philosophy. Take something, paint it red-white-and-blue and you have it.

One thing that fascinates me is how similar modern corporations resemble Communist Parties. The shareholder in Exxon-Mobil has as much real power as a voter in Soviet Russia. All the real power is in the hands of the Politburo/Board of Directors.

I forget the details from my intermediate macro course, but I believe something like 2/3 of GDP is labor. So, clearly, the proletariat benefits disproportionally, but this vast wealth is spread out over a greater number of people.
Unemployment is at 10% in the United States. If you are unemployed right now, it's not helping you.

Isn't this preferable and perhaps even intrinsic distribution of wealth akin to the re-distribution of wealth so clamored for?
Depends. If you are satisfied with the way that the US economy is right now, then you don't need to change anything. Most people aren't satisfied with the state of the US economy, and the job of intellectuals is to come up with new ideas with the old ideas just don't work any more.

The problem with re-distributing wealth is that if you do it, then the people that decide how wealth is re-distributed will tend to re-distribute to themselves and their friends. Market mechanisms are really good because you have ways of re-distributing wealth that gets around this problem...... Maybe.....

Also people are inherently selfish (which is why putting power in the hands of a central planning state doesn't work well). People tend to be all happy about unequal distribution of wealth if they think they are going to end up on top. If you believe you are going to be a multi-gazillionaire (or for that matter a tenured professor) then you are going to be annoyed at anyone that tries to stop you.

However, if you think you are going to be at the bottom, then your views change a lot. If you have too many people at the bottom, then you have social revolution. So it's in the interest of the people with the power and gold, to set things up so that there aren't too many people at the bottom.

Getting back to physics....

One way the people in power keep their power is to tell people that they are destined to be part of the club. You are special. You are going to be a rich lawyer, doctor, Wall Street MBA, tenured professor. Just follow the rules and you will be a winner, and even though most people end up losers, they deserve it, and you don't, because you are a winner.

Why are people so concerned about getting into the TOP grad schools. Because people have this fear that if they don't, then they are screwed for life. Guess what. There aren't enough places. You are going to be screwed sooner or later. If only a few people get all of the goodies, then you aren't likely to be one of them.

People in the US are extremely angry because people are starting to realize that this is more or less what is going on.


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