Decline in Science Jobs! Why?

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Is this decline a result of result of decline of people's interest in science?


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  • #26
Dr Transport
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Astronuc said:
That's very much my observation. How do we change that?

We are pushing the limits of technology and we need bright minds that understand challenging and complex problems! The answers are not in the back of the book!

First of all, we slap them hard from the time they are little in school, flunk a few and make them work for C's and B's. Do not advance them socially if they can't hack it. Limit their exposure to the internet, it is a wonderful place to find information, but if you search long enough, you don't need to think about your homework, someone has already done it for you. Forums like this are great, we make them think and post their thought processes online for all to see and critique, but if I go out and look long enough, I'll find almost every Jackson's E&M problem solved as well as a host of other texts.

As for the answer is in the back of the book mentality, how do you know it is correct??? You have to have some knowledge of the subject and can be able to tell the good from the bad.

FredGarvin said:
I think another aspect to all of this is that there are a lot of professions out there that get a lot of exposure for doing, what I would call, mindless/non-technical work and getting large amounts of money for it. Why work hard at school and go to an even tougher college if I can party my way through, get C's and then come out and get a better paying job? I think most of the kids in the US would be happiest if the entire econiomy was based solely on merchandising, retail and restaurants.

I don't know how to counter this, the dot-com bubble is a perfect example. People who are not all that smart technically rode the stock market to highs and made butt-loads of $$$, I am not against it, I made gobs of cash in my 401K and other investments at the same time, but one group of over zealous engineers in a company will get the corporation banned from bidding on contracts, but a bunch of stock brokers gone awry only gets fined and they are back at work the next day.


Who knows how to fix this, I sure don't have all the answers, probably don't have any, my opinion os as good as anyone elses......
 
  • #27
mathwonk
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Unfortunately I agree with Ki Man, the stuff is badly taught, aND UNREMUNerative compared with other easier fields of study.

When a colleague and I took time off fro our research to teach high school kids math, we hada large fraction of them go into math and even get PhD's, some becoming well known researchers.

our reward was to have our grant terminated for diminution in research publications that year. and for thiose who keep their interest, and go on to profesional status, even the best researchers in pure math earn less than smart people with BA's in other fields today.

even at our university, the comparative measure of quality of a department is blatantly the total number of research gran t dollars generated. this tilts the scale completely in favor of chemistry, physics, and stat, and comp sci, even in the hard sciences, over math.

the business school of course is never facing a shortage of candidates for majors. as for the reimbursement level for high school math teachers, to interest people like Ki Man, that is out of the question for someone like me, at least until I retire. maybe someone could fund a progrm for retried professionals to return to high school, but the work load would have to be adjusted from the killer one they have there, plus all the behavior problems.

as for reaching the wider populace, this forum does a wonderful job of beign a sort of underground source of information, some of which coems from active researchers and professionals. this sort of thing does not exist at the university level in the us. to my knowledge, few people in my department except those running the high school math contest, have much contact with the public.

another good development is the existence of websites with frely downloadable notyes, but this does not reach the unsophisticated public i suspect. of course it would be a great situation fora ramanujam to be born into. anyone today can have access to the best math texts for free if he/she wants them.
 
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  • #28
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I think that one would learn better from hardcopies of textbooks, rather than using the internet. Isn't it annoying to read books and notes online?
 
  • #29
Dr Transport
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I think that one would learn better from hardcopies of textbooks, rather than using the internet. Isn't it annoying to read books and notes online?

I'm old, my eyes are going, and a full page on my screen is too small for me to read, even with my glasses (OK, I'm not that old (41) but you get my drift). There is something to be said about flipping back and forth in a book, tabbing pages (yes, post-it tabs are a wonderfull thing) and writing in the margin to fill in steps (Miss Langworthy forgive me). I like to save trees as much as anyone, but I love my paper texts and hate to read things from a .pdf file. A well loved book is one that has coffee stains on the end, dirt on the pages because the oils from your fingers attracts it and yes, a busted binding. My copy of Jackson is well worn, so is my Arfkin, and my CRC Math Handbook opens to the pages on integration without my touching it.
 
  • #30
vanesch
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It is my personal, uninformed and unreliable opinion that the problem with physical sciences is that you need a very long, hard, intense phase of investment of time, sweat and effort before one can even see it starting to pay.
In former ("good old") times, this kind of attitude was strongly encouraged in the educational world (read, school), but this seems to be gone now.

It seems that up to the age, of say, 16 years, there doesn't seem to be any pushing anymore to acquire, through long, hard work, the necessary skills of logical thinking, rigorous mathematics, precise and accurate work and so on. Most educational activities seem to center on "quick-pay-off" activities, where "real life benefits" must be manifest after a semester at most. Everything must be immediately "application-oriented" and one doesn't take much time anymore to devellop sometimes boring but foundational matters if the take a long time to acquire (take, latin, or grammar, or several more abstract parts of elementary mathematics: all things which are on a decline). The "rapid-return-on-investment" seems to be the killer of the physical sciences in my opinion.
 
  • #31
ZapperZ
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A lack of scientific evidence doesn't mean my assertion is incorrect. Since it is on such a broad scale, statistical data is just too specific, and there will always be exceptions to the rule. I just know it; I know it in my bones, I feel it in the air, that we as a species are getting dumber and dumber.

Then you can't deny my assertion either, and you can't falsify it based on anything, because *I* can feel it in my bones that you point of view is wrong.

If you think that you can get by with baseless statements on here, you have found the wrong forum.

Zz.
 
  • #32
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I already explained why any statistical data in support of my argument would be woefully incomplete and hence, pointless. If someone took it on as a Phd thesis, it would still be incomplete because there would be too many factors involved. I suppose it could be the subject of a book, but the book would only invite endless criticism on multiple fronts.

Despite all this, it remains in my opinion a)true and b)worth pointing out.
 
  • #33
ZapperZ
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You have hijacked this thread as a vehicle for your unsupported prejudice, which has nothing to do with the OP. Consider this as your only warning to not continue with such practice.

Zz.
 
  • #34
GCT
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Plum, you're probably not alone in strongly believing that society in the US in general is becoming progressively less intelligent, due to "morons" propagating themselves in the gene pool. You should probably read upon past popularizations of such concepts by such people as Henry Goddard to understand the consequences of seriously taking up such views.

Dr. Transport's quote
Absolutely, students today have been coddled into thinking that they are special, smart, etc

Yes, I believe that TV, is one of the main causal factors for increasing children's excitement tendency and a disinterest in science. There's too much information to sort out while watching TV, they don't learn anything, they are fascinated by the "magic" that they see on TV, and to them science is just some form of "magic"; there's no real understanding of what it means, and they don't want to make themselves extral "special" by becoming a scientist. Children have become an economic commodity.

Also, FredGarvin has made a valid point in illustrating just how practical the relatively more ambitious our youngsters have become. While TV serves to constantly brainwash some, others have become smarter and adhere to a more realistic route of things. With the past generation it was relatively easier to inspire the younger generation, and "a sense
of what is good and just" however, they have become "too smart" for all of this. The latter aspect probably has a good instinctual basis to it, however, it limits just how far they can really go in becoming smarter. It becomes more violent manner of intelligence. They just don't want to be duped.
 
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  • #35
Dr Transport
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Vanesch, FredGarvin and Astronuc have all made good points on this suubject. I agree with ZapperZ that plum has hijacked this thread to spread unsubstantiated truths.

We need to get back on subject or we will loose what decent discussion we have been having up to now.
 
  • #36
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Dr Transport said:
Vanesch, FredGarvin and Astronuc have all made good points on this suubject. I agree with ZapperZ that plum has hijacked this thread to spread unsubstantiated truths.

We need to get back on subject or we will loose what decent discussion we have been having up to now.

Dr Transport is very right.

As regarding to the declining interest in science, my belief is that in the society there happens to be a distinction as to what/who is "cool" and what/who is not.
Since elementary and high school, students who are good at sports and who participate in lot of extra curricular activities are considered "cool".
While those good at math and science are considered "nerds".
I do believe that being good at math and science requires a major concentration which results in the low extra activities of such students.
I also believe that it is possible to be good at math and science to some extent while doing good at other things as sports at the same time.

But, on the whole I believe that U.S. citizens honor sports-lovers more than science-lovers.

Note: I pointed out the distinction including sports because when I came to the US that was the major type of discrimination that I experienced!
 
  • #37
ZapperZ
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Note that the decline in interest in physics isn't just confined to the US. Reading University has voted last Monday to officially close its physics department, dispite last minute attempts by everyone, ranging from British govt. to the IoP, down to the various individuals and physicists. The UK is also experiencing a tremendous decline in enrollment and interest in physics, and science in general.

Unless you also argue that the UK citizens are aslo "sports lovers" more than "science lovers" all of the sudden, then attributing the decline to simply this one factor is too simplistic.

[Sidenote: The difference here in the US is that many schools are able to keep the physics programs open due to the high enrollment of international students that continue to seek higher education in the US in such fields. While UK universities have been attracting students from all over the world, especially the Commonwealth nations, it is still not at the same rate as a typical US university.]

If you are a high school teacher (Chi Meson can try this), ask your student what a physicist do for a living. In other words, for a student to want to BE something, he or she must already know what someone in that profession typicall do. I bet that they know what a medical doctor, or an engineer does, but I am quite sure that they do not have a clear idea what a "physicist" does.

If this is true, then why would someone want to be a physicist if one has no clue what physicists do?

Zz.
 
  • #38
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Hey

I think it is because this country (USA and Canada:) ) has grown to love money and possession. You give people an option of spending over 4 to 8 years in school taking physics - maybe longer - and at the end of it, you get maybe 50k starting out, or spend the same amount of time in school taking something like business, or just getting your broker license and start out with over 100k and over time, the sky is the limit on the amount of money you can make.

For me, Science/Physics is something special, something that you do for the right reasons. Even though I did take the business route, and started my own trading fund, I still love Science (I am an analyst) and I think the USA and Canada needs to do something about this.

Something that is growing in the math field is Quant trading firms. I use to be at a firm that hired people with a PhD in Math or physics to develope models, and they got over 200k starting.

Take care.
 
  • #39
Dr Transport
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ZapperZ said:
...

If you are a high school teacher (Chi Meson can try this), ask your student what a physicist do for a living. In other words, for a student to want to BE something, he or she must already know what someone in that profession typicall do. I bet that they know what a medical doctor, or an engineer does, but I am quite sure that they do not have a clear idea what a "physicist" does.

If this is true, then why would someone want to be a physicist if one has no clue what physicists do?

Zz.

You don't need to be a high school teacher to do this. There is a program called Adopt-A-Physicist run by the APS ( http://www.adoptaphysicist.org/ ), sign up for the next go around which starts in the spring. I have signed up for this program two years running, last year I was not selected by any class to interact with them, this year if I am not chosen by someone, I am either

1.) A dork and really should not interact with students

2.) Too smart for them and cannot get sell myself as an interesting guy

3.) Too dumb for them

4.) ?????? (you fill in the blank)

I do not have a clue????

I have tried to be a good ambassador for science in general and Physics in particular but I agree, kids spend more time playing sports on the outside chance they are going to get a scholarship than working hard at their schoolwork for an academic scholarship. My local news paper doesn't list the academic scholarship winners, just the atheletic scholarship awardees. It starts from the parents on down, if a kid sees his parents spending more time reading and studying the sport page and ESPN than reading about what else is going on around them, what lessons are they going to learn.
 
  • #40
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For some reason, they don't have that many places to match up physicists with the schools in a particular geographic area. I know of only one person at the lab that actually volunteered for this and got selected.

I haven't volunteered, mainly because I'm involved in another outreach program here, besides running other programs here for our division. I still think many students have no clue what physicists do, or if they do, they have a very limited idea on the true picture, i.e. they think we all do String Theory.

Zz.
 
  • #41
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ZapperZ said:
You have hijacked this thread as a vehicle for your unsupported prejudice, which has nothing to do with the OP. Consider this as your only warning to not continue with such practice.

May I ask what plum's supposed prejudice is? This thread is chock-full of unsubstantiated claims. What makes his any different?
 
  • #42
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I think a very large part of this is how education has become so politicized lately. There's this weird belief that science changes with the whims of the last election, and this affects how new students view science. The Sir Run Run Shaw lecture at Stony Brook this year was a woman from SLAC talking about her experiences as an advisor for the development of the scientific curriculum in California. It was downright depressing.

I think what we need to do, as a community, is learn how the political system works in education, and get involved in trying to improve science curricula. We also need to do a better job of communicating with the public. Movies like "What the Bleep do We Know?" just creates widespread confusion in a public that already has no idea how the scientific process works.
 
  • #43
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May I ask what plum's supposed prejudice is? This thread is chock-full of unsubstantiated claims. What makes his any different?

Dumb people breed more dumb people. This is not generally true, although I would tend to agree that I've observed anecdotally that parents that have no respect for education breed children with no respect for education. But I've also seen the opposite, and this can't be quantified.

So let's just agree that a very large part of the problem is a general disrespect for education, particularly in the sciences.
 
  • #44
ZapperZ
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May I ask what plum's supposed prejudice is? This thread is chock-full of unsubstantiated claims. What makes his any different?

Note that I emphasized another point - hijacking the thread. This is a no-no. While others are bound to state an opinion based on their observation, at the very least they are within the topic in hand.

There is also a difference between basing one's opinion on a limited observation AND admitting that it is limited, versus stating something as if it is a FACT even while admitting that one has nothing to base it on. The latter is then based on pure prejudice and unsubstantiated belief. To take the stubborn attitude that "I know what it is, and I don't care what you tell me to the contrary" is not only reveals one's prejudice, but renders any rational discussion to be useless.

Zz.
 
  • #45
Dr Transport
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For some reason, they don't have that many places to match up physicists with the schools in a particular geographic area. I know of only one person at the lab that actually volunteered for this and got selected.

That's the best part of this, it is entirely online, no personal contact is required. It is being run as a forum this year. From what I have been told, this year they are also limiting the number of physicists enrolling for the next go around which starts Monday and runs thru Dec 15th. I think I was not the only one to not be contacted last year.

I agree also, these students think all a physicist does is string theory and relativity theory, we have Brian Greene to blame for that (he is a brilliant guy, but he sells sexy science) us more mundane, boring run of the mill types who do good work everyday to help society are not getting the credit or $$.
 
  • #46
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Note that I emphasized another point - hijacking the thread. This is a no-no. While others are bound to state an opinion based on their observation, at the very least they are within the topic in hand.

I was well within the topic. I could just as easily accuse you of hijacking it by over-reacting to what (I presume) you incorrectly identified as racism.

There is also a difference between basing one's opinion on a limited observation AND admitting that it is limited, versus stating something as if it is a FACT even while admitting that one has nothing to base it on. The latter is then based on pure prejudice and unsubstantiated belief. To take the stubborn attitude that "I know what it is, and I don't care what you tell me to the contrary" is not only reveals one's prejudice, but renders any rational discussion to be useless.

Stating "in my opinion" in hopes of differentiating it from fact is redundant when the subject isn't dealing with strictly accepted scientific theory. This thread was meant to be opinionated from the outset, not scientific. Hence, any and all "facts" here, without direct scientific evidence, are opinions and needn't be claimed as such. At no point did I assert that "I know what it is, and I don't care what you tell me to the contrary". I was and still am fully open to debate the subject, just as the issue of potential and inspiration is being discussed and debated.
 
  • #47
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I disagree with your earlier statements plum. It's not the malnutrition that decides the intelligence of a society, its a correlation of two things, the want of an education and opportunity of getting an education. I promise you that if you go to any thrid world country and ask the children if they want to go to school and learn, they will say yes, but they lack the opportunity, so they cannot progress economically as a country. America has the opposite problem, we all have the opportunity to learn but we are falling behind because the children do not want to learn. this is the country where children get sick and pray that they will get to miss school, so we are falling behind other countries while we ourselves depend on the upper class to support our uneducated lives. I know from personal experience because I knew a teacher in elementary who was from africa and he knew more about our government that any american here would know, and he had to learn in africa under a tree becaues there was no school, so you cannot hold malnutrition and poverty as a good reason. my dad grew up in vietnam and the communists wouldn't let him get an education so he had to leave the country and come to canada to get an engineering degree.

BACK TO THE OP

Yes, I believe that TV, is one of the main causal factors for increasing children's excitement tendency and a disinterest in science. There's too much information to sort out while watching TV, they don't learn anything, they are fascinated by the "magic" that they see on TV, and to them science is just some form of "magic"; there's no real understanding of what it means, and they don't want to make themselves extral "special" by becoming a scientist. Children have become an economic commodity.

If you want to see a really stereotypical view of science, look up the nickolodeon show 'jimmy neutron boy genius'

no matter how much 'interests in science' newspapers or critics or whoever may say it generates within the younger generation, all it does is give them a false image of what science is. with things in it like 'mitochondria extraction from a virus to make a cure for the sick patch' and flying through space without any space gear and constantly using the term 'reverse the polarity' just paints a fanciful image of science to the short-attention spanned children of today. however amusing the thought of a little kid today shoving a fork with a magnet attached to it into an outlet to reverse the polarity of his gameboy is, I dont think this show is helping anyone, just like every other cartoon where all the students are depicted failing all of their math and science exams

before we can change how the children in schools today do in math and science, we need to change the impression we give them on what math and science is
 

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