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A prof. says Don't be a scientist.

  1. Aug 19, 2011 #1
    A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    http://wuphys.wustl.edu/~katz/scientist.html [Broken]

    This scared the daylights out of me. I want to be a scientist, confoundit!

    In the article, Dr. Katz of Washington University in St. Louis (a tenured physics professor) pretty much says that everyone should give up aspirations of becoming a scientist of any kind. Clearly he was just having a bad day when he wrote this (I hope).

    He hasn't changed my mind about what I love to do. But it makes the prospect of doing research I'm interested in, even in an industrial setting, look like a pipe-dream.

    Quote from the article:

    "Suppose you do eventually obtain a permanent job, perhaps a tenured professorship. The struggle for a job is now replaced by a struggle for grant support, and again there is a glut of scientists. Now you spend your time writing proposals rather than doing research."

    This article was written in 1999, but things haven't exactly improved. What's really going on in the market for science graduates? What difficulties should we expect?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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  3. Aug 19, 2011 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Re: A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    Don't count on a research professorship, that's it.
     
  4. Aug 19, 2011 #3

    ZapperZ

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    Re: A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    Please read this thread. My response to this will be identical to the one I wrote in that thread.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=520403

    You may also want to do a search on that Katz's article. That has been discussed several times already.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Aug 19, 2011 #4
    Re: A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    ZapperZ - Great thread! I actually feel a bit better.
    It's true a lot of people dream of working on crazy theories get crushed but realistically, you can have fun in an area you never expected or didn't even know existed, right?
     
  6. Aug 21, 2011 #5
    Re: A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    When I was a boy of five years old, I really wanted to fly airplanes. As I grew older, I realized many things about flying that I didn't like. First, it is expensive. Second, it is extremely competitive, and those who don't become airline captains don't make much at all. So I chose something else that I always liked to do: tinker with radios. I became an electrical engineer, and later a control systems engineer.

    On the side, I learned how to fly and I purchased a share of an airplane. I can fly on my own time and pretty much wherever and whenever I want.

    The point of saying this is that pursuing your dreams doesn't always have to be the center of your career. It can also be on the side.

    There is a surprising amount of science and engineering that one can do as an amateur if one is diligent. Remember, before they were famous, Albert Einstein was a patent clerk. Joseph Henry was a watch maker and an engineer. The Wright Brothers were bicycle mechanics. You don't have to be in academia to pursue your curiosity or aspirations.
     
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Re: A prof. says "Don't be a scientist."

    While those are true, one also needs to frame that with some reality within the context of the times that we live in. Things are way more complicated than what it used to be. Back on those days, even calculus were not taught at the undergraduate level. Now, we teach those even in high school. You are expected to know a lot more than during those days, and simple experiments now are few and far between.

    The sad fact here is that there have been NO significant contributions to the body of knowledge in physics made by "amateur" physicists during the past 100 years or so. So to expect one to make such a contribution is to go against reality. The probability of that happening is just too low for it to be a reasonable expectation.

    BTW, Einstein wasn't an "amateur". You can't call yourself an amateur when you have an advanced physics degree, which he already had by the time he worked at the Patent Office.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
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