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Brit apathy to science

  1. Apr 10, 2008 #1

    wolram

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7338666.stm

    Nicholas Owen, from the solar theory group at St Andrews University, summed up the mood last week of astronomers gathered in Belfast for the annual meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    Some, especially the younger ones, were resigned to having to get out of astronomy altogether.

    Astronomy and fundamental physics in the UK are in the midst of their worst funding crisis for decades.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2008 #2
    So that probably means I shouldn't try to go to Grad school for physics in the UK, huh?
     
  4. Apr 10, 2008 #3

    Moonbear

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    How is funding for the other sciences there? In the US, the funding situation is quite miserable for sciences in general, and especially for the biomedical sciences.

    Though, when I was in grad school, we were all reminded that having a Ph.D. would certainly make us employable, but it should be realistically viewed that it's a bonus if one is employed in the field one chooses early on rather than an expectation. Some sectors are better than others at different times, but if you have a Ph.D., you'll still find a job somewhere. I've already shifted career paths a few times, and am in the process of taking another turn...though this time I think I'm doubling back a bit more to focus on education, which I've always enjoyed but didn't think was very stable or well-paid compared to research. Times have changed, and now the thing I enjoy most is the most secure path for me and also pays well without the killer hours of research. :biggrin: It's just a matter of having the sense to realize you're beating your head against the wall in one direction and time to turn around and find another direction, and I think I've finally wound my path around to get to the other side of the wall. :wink: Patience and persistence and not being afraid to head in new directions is what you need to learn during grad school training, and what will ensure you're always employed regardless of the whims of government funding.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
  5. Apr 10, 2008 #4

    cristo

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    It's pretty much the same for all sciences. The research council for particle physics and astronomy has a huge loss of money, but the engineering and physical sciences council has an even huger loss of money.

    Still, though, studentships and postdoc positions are fine, so long as you're not working on one of the projects whose funding has been cut. Of course, the safest bet is to be a theorist: they're not going to make much money back by reclaiming the tools we need to work!
     
  6. Apr 10, 2008 #5

    Moonbear

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    Perhaps Canada and Australia still have jobs. :uhh:
     
  7. Apr 10, 2008 #6

    wolram

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    So what of Nicholas Owen, the student who's wondering if he should carry on?

    The answer he got, from John Womersley, director of science programmes at the STFC, was criticised as patronising: "If you cared about money you wouldn't be a scientist at all would you," he told the students in the hall.

    "You may feel it's a bigger gamble than you want to make, knowing what you do about future funding.

    I suppose Womersley is safe, i bet Owen thinks little of him now.
     
  8. Apr 10, 2008 #7

    Moonbear

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    I tend to agree. Your motivation for grad school shouldn't just be the money...if it is, you're going to have a miserable time of it. Not that one really wants to go into something that pays nothing either, but grad school takes so long to complete that the current funding climate is almost never a good predictor of what it's going to be like when you get out.
     
  9. Apr 11, 2008 #8
    Perhaps there is also this balance bit. So you have to keep a society running, for that you need farmers, traders, manufacturers, constructor, etc. In my fathers time, if you were not going to be farmer, you'd go for builder or factory worker. Nowadays just about everybody goes for the PhD.
     
  10. Apr 11, 2008 #9

    cristo

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    I agree-- one doesn't enter grad school for the money! I just hope the job market has improved in 3 years or so!
    That's a huge over-exaggeration! Of the people in my year at university, about 5% at most went on to do PhDs in various fields. The majority went into real jobs (banks, accountants, etc etc)
     
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