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Do you think the world needs more theoretical physicists?

  1. Sep 30, 2011 #1
    I'm sure this was asked before on here. The title is pretty self explanatory. Personally I don't know a good answer to this question. On the one hand you'll have a group of people who are very smart and are exploring why nature is the way it is. Also if there are more theoretical physicist it might have a positive affect on math and science education because more people that know there stuff would be available to teach it. On the other hand though it would mean more people out there who know how to make dangerous weapons.
     
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  3. Sep 30, 2011 #2

    Pengwuino

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    .... seriously?
     
  4. Sep 30, 2011 #3
    I'm serious. Are you serious?
     
  5. Oct 1, 2011 #4
    What thne world needs is fewer politicians.
     
  6. Oct 1, 2011 #5

    DaveC426913

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    I was thinking the same thing as Pengy. What do you expect to accomplish by asking this question?

    There's no governing body that decides when their habitat (temperate plains and labs) are overpopulated and the herd needs to be culled.

    Or are you asking for personal reasons? If it's what you were put here to do, then do it. Damn anyone who tells you otherwise.
     
  7. Oct 1, 2011 #6

    wukunlin

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    the thread inspired me to make a dangerous weapon out of a fallen tree in my backyard
     
  8. Oct 1, 2011 #7
    I think the guy has a point. Have you seen a theoretical physicist lately ? They are almost as creepy as the pure math guys.I'm sure all they do is sit in their office an plan on how to give us a slow and painful death.
     
  9. Oct 1, 2011 #8

    chiro

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    Hey xdrgnh.

    The world needs a healthy mix of all kinds of people.

    One thing that can happen though, is that some people, especially in their own field, think that they need more people in their own field! They may even say that they are under-appreciated by everyone else for the work they do for the rest of us in the world! If you were not in the field and you heard this, what would you think of these people?

    Also with regard to people using knowledge to do "bad stuff", why would you worry about a theoretical physicist in contrast to say anybody else? We all have the potential to do anything and that includes being completely selfless or completely selfish. This applies to everyone, but I agree that if you had someone with a position in society with that kind of responsibility, that you would hope that they had certain values that they lived by. It's very rare to find this kind of person though.

    If you really wanted to get an informative answer to your question, you would have to gauge firstly what people think a certain occupation "does" and then if they don't know tell them and then ask the question of how "valuable" they think the occupation is to society and in what way.
     
  10. Oct 1, 2011 #9

    DaveC426913

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    I can see that conversation going well... :rolleyes:

    "...and so that's what a mathematician does. Now that you know, do you think the world would be a better place with more of them, Mister ... uh ... Carl of Carl's Loose Meat Eatery?"
     
  11. Oct 1, 2011 #10
    I don't think that having knowledge of building "dangerous weapons" should be an argument to not have more theoretical physicists.

    Not quite sure where you were headed with the entire statement to be perfectly honest...
     
  12. Oct 1, 2011 #11
    Physics isn't the only science. There are a lot of poorly writen novels out there. Do we really need any more library scientists?
     
  13. Oct 1, 2011 #12
    What the world needs is better antipsychotic drugs liberally dumped into the water supplies.
     
  14. Oct 1, 2011 #13

    Ryan_m_b

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    I would be a lot more wary of a blacksmith who could knock up a whole load of pretty damn lethal weapons in short order with his bare hands than a physicist who would have to be a billionaire with a super secret head quarters and thousands of specialised minions to make one basic atomic bomb.

    By the logic of "do we want people who know how to make dangerous weapons" we would't have any chemists, biologists, physicists, doctors, politicians/public figures (a mob is a dangerous weapon), carpenters, blacksmiths, toolsmiths.....the list goes on and on and on.

    On the other (rational) hand more scientists allow society to conduct more research and grow both our knowledge and understanding of the world. This allows us to develop better technologies and techniques to ultimately improve both the quality and longevity of our lives. A fraction of that scientific understanding is devoted towards military matters because ultimately human social interaction is interwoven with violent tendencies. But that isn't going to change if you stop doing research, what will change it is more research in social sciences and more application of better economic and social theories towards reducing conflict in the world right through from neighbourhoods to nations.
     
  15. Oct 1, 2011 #14

    D H

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    Theoretical physicists for the most part don't make dangerous weapons. That knowledge has long since passed from the realm of theoretical physics to applied physics and engineering. One reason people go into theoretical physics is because they won't be making today's dangerous weapons.

    They might however be developing the framework for some future weapon that is even more dangerous than those we use today. But how others use/abuse the knowledge they have developed isn't their problem.
     
  16. Oct 1, 2011 #15
    In financial times as of now, I think too much of theoretical research is a waste of money.
     
  17. Oct 1, 2011 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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    Like what, specifically?
     
  18. Oct 1, 2011 #17
    Atom smasher just being one example http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15079119" [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  19. Oct 1, 2011 #18

    Ryan_m_b

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    I hear this type of sentiment a lot from people. Why do you think expensive experiments like this should be cut in times of financial stress other than the fact they are expensive? Is it because you don't think they give anything back or that they are unimportant in some way or other?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Oct 1, 2011 #19
    They turn out to be very beneficial in the long run but don't give us anything back in short run. We might be better off spending money providing everyone (skilled) jobs during financial stress times.
     
  21. Oct 1, 2011 #20
    I believe it does not.
     
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