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How experiments end and scientists move on

  1. Jan 25, 2012 #1
    I was discussing my REU applications with a professor of mine and he picked out a number of experiments, I won't name which, that he said I should be weary of. I was a little confused by his selections, so I asked him what was wrong with the particular experiments. They were all very respectable groups of scientists working on interesting problems, as far as I could tell. He told me that every project had a lifetime, and that some projects require such a specific set of skills and/or work in a relative isolation from the rest of the community to the extent that those scientists are at a slight disconnect from the rest of the experimental community and that those scientists are often at risk or well, losing themselves when their experiment is over since they have been doing the same specific set of task for an extended period of time.

    Does anyone have any experience with projects, I wouldn't want to offend anyone by naming where, that have ended and left physicists well...a little displaced? I'm trying to imagine ATLAS (as an example of a HUGE project) coming to an end abruptly and leaving thousands of people scratching their heads, haha, but I have a feeling that the collaboration for ATLAS will probably change size gradually over the years.

    Any discussion would be great, I'm just trying to be a little more knowledgeable about the way my future field will work :P
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2012 #2


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    Don't worry about this with regards to an REU. You aren't expected to accomplish much in a few months anyway.

    Generally speaking, it's prudent to always be learning new skills. Your advisor is correct that some fields of study may require you to perform repitious tasks ad nauseum, which may prevent you from doing so on the job. In such a case, it is incumbent on you to develop or acquire new knowledge independently. All the preparation in the world cannot guarantee avoidance of these situations, though there are steps you can take to better your odds (e.g., characterizing the work output of peers in your prospective position).
  4. Jan 30, 2012 #3
    Thank you :) I'll be sure to remember this when I make decisions (assuming I'm accepted of course!).
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