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Physics International Collaboration of Physics

  1. Jan 30, 2012 #1
    I am still in high school and so i am fairly new to the world of physics. I am curious as to if the physicists of a large multitude of nations collaborate with their research and their findings. Or do countries try to keep their discoveries to themselves in an attempt to get ahead? It seems like humanity's understanding of the universe would be reaching its fullest potential if scientists were all working together. Besides all of the various national physics societies that many counties have, the idea of an international institute of physics seems just that, ideal. I am aware that there is some cooperation between countries in physics, I am just not sure of the extent.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2012 #2
    We train so many physicists and their are so few jobs worldwide that a physicist has to be willing to travel all over the world to get jobs. When the average physicist works in several countries before he/she lands a position, they forge collaborations all over the world.

    Just in graduate school, I worked in three different countries, and thats not that uncommon. My collaborators were all over the world.

    Now, if you are the rare physicist who works on something with industry applications, you may have to keep things closer to your chest. But odds are, your collaborators will still be international, just not as open.
  4. Jan 30, 2012 #3
    It's too bad that the nations of the world are not completely open with one another. If they were, i think the human race would have a much better understanding of the universe. With all the great minds of physics at work together, the possibilities would be extraordinary. Maybe one day civilization will reach this state, and there is no telling what we can accomplish.
  5. Jan 31, 2012 #4
    In non-defense work, it's very international. Every one shares ideas with everyone else, and there aren't really any borders. Also a lot of research works through multi-national corporations and multi-national universities, which are multi-national.

    In defense work, people obviously don't talk very much about what they are doing, but people that build H-bombs are surprisingly nice to each other, and lots of people know and are good friends with people on the other side as long as the other side is someone else that is in the "nuclear club". (I've been told it's the same way with generals and spies.)

    Maybe. But there is also room for "friendly competition." The only reason the US went to the moon was to beat the Russians, and something motivate people is to try to beat (in a friendly way that doesn't get anyone killed) a competing nation, a competing company, or a competing university.

    It's not. Most of the institutions of physics are international. Even the institutions that *seem* national aren't. If you go to a conference of the American Astronomical Society, you'll find that large numbers of people there aren't American.
  6. Jan 31, 2012 #5
    Even then, you'll find that your employer is more important than your citizenship. If you have four people. Two from country A, and two from country B. And the two of them work for company C, and the other two work for company D, you'll find that the fact that they come from different countries is irrelevant, but the people in C will watch what they say to people in D.

    Also professional background seems to matter more than nationality. If you have groups of people that are politicians and a groups of people that are physicists, you'll find that people will group themselves more by profession than by nationality, which is why even people that are trained to kill each other (i.e. soldiers, spies, and nuclear bomb designers) often have deep friendships.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  7. Jan 31, 2012 #6
    Many universities offer an exchange year to other countries/institutions for UG students. For instance, Cambridge offers an exchange with MIT. As our Prime Minister is an American spy, this isn't surprising. Or was Polanski just making that up? :) (Great film, by the way - "Ghost")
  8. Feb 1, 2012 #7
    I work with the ATLAS detector for the LHC at CERN. It is one of the largest international collaborations in the world, with over 160 institutes from between 30-40 countries. Traveling and exchanging ideas at conferences around the whole world from people from various countries is a must. It is how modern particle physics, and I assume most other science/engineering projects are done.
  9. Feb 1, 2012 #8


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    It appears as if you didn't understand the first response by ParticleGrl that you were given. International collaboration is COMMON!

    Don't believe me? Look at any papers that came out of the LHC. Period.

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