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No kids = better physcist?

  1. Apr 5, 2008 #1

    tgt

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    Many say that physcists need to have child like imaginations and inspirations. Many also say that until you have kids of your own, you will not grow up.

    Conclusion: Beings kidless will make you more likely a better physcist. However, how good is the evidence? All physicsts I know seem to have kids. So there might be some flaws somewhere?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2008 #2
    Absolutely ridiculous.
     
  4. Apr 5, 2008 #3
    Could not of said it better myself.
     
  5. Apr 5, 2008 #4

    Astronuc

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    Being inquisitive and proficient (which requires some level of intellect) in mathematics and science make for a good or great scientist.

    Being a spouse or parent is an entirely different matter.
     
  6. Apr 5, 2008 #5
    I don't think so. But it would be nice as I'm a bit of a child at heart.

    I think an imagination helps, it doesn't have to be childlike, contrary to popular belief though how imaginative you are is not cast in stone any more than how creative generally you are is. I think Feynman typifies that as he had a particularly average IQ (in terms of famous scientists) But a phenomenal ability in physics none the less. Although I think that more proves that IQ tests are fairly worthless, especially at predicting genius than that intelligence is not fluid. I think creativity is important, but it's not that important, it just helps.

    I also don't think having kids makes some people grow up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  7. Apr 5, 2008 #6

    lisab

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    Raising my daughter was like having a second childhood, for me.

    I hadn't played with toys since I was a kid, but I would play with her every day.

    We'd make art nearly every day.

    As I would drive to the grocery store with her, if we would pass a park we would make an unscheduled stop to go on the swings.

    Raising a child filled my life with playing and spontaneity - kids are fun!
     
  8. Apr 5, 2008 #7

    Gokul43201

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    I don't see why this question is "absolutely ridiculous." Could you please explain? I can only hope that the folks that said this are not themselves physicists. Having children is a very big concern for physics grad students, post docs and researchers/faculty, especially if you are a woman.

    http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/115.html


    http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/women/iupap.htm
    http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/women/iupaptable15.htm

    www.symmetrymagazine.org/pdfs/200705/commentary.pdf

    If you are male, and you want your partner to have most of the responsibility of raising your children, then sure, it won't affect you much. But if you want to be a good father, you'd be a lot better off if you've actually got tenure, and even then, it's a very difficult task.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  9. Apr 5, 2008 #8

    vanesch

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    This is not typical for a physicist's career. You find the same problems in any career which is demanding - especially for women.

    The question is whether it is worth it. I definitely decided "no".
     
  10. Apr 5, 2008 #9

    Astronuc

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    Life is about a balance. One is always faced with choices with respect to a career and relationships.

    The question to be asked is - what is the requirement of a good/great physicist?

    If it is that one must spend well beyond 40 hrs/week on research, e.g. 60, or 80 or 120 hrs/wk (including weekends), then having children is probably not a good idea, and in fact probably being married is not a good idea. But then that depends on the individuals invovled in the relationship.

    If one elects to be an absent parent, then hopefully one's spouse is committed to be essentially a single parent, and I have seen such relationships. On the other hand, I have seen the hurt experienced by the children of absent parent(s).

    There are probably good or great scientists who make great parents, just as there are great scientists who make for lousy parents or spouses, and a spectrum in between.

    Scientists/physicists afterall are only human.
     
  11. Apr 5, 2008 #10

    Gokul43201

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    The thing about some careers is not just that they are demanding, but are also essentially disruptive to the process of raising children. To be a good physicist today, you must spend at least 5 years in grad school, with at least 60-hour work weeks, then at least 1 or 2 post-docs, each for a couple years or so, all in different locations.

    Just to make this clear, is that "no" to having children or to not having children?
     
  12. Apr 5, 2008 #11

    Moonbear

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    Except I don't think that's what the OP was asking. He didn't seem to be commenting on dividing one's time between career and raising children (one can do it, but as you point out, it requires a supportive spouse who can dedicate more time to caring for the children while one focuses on their career), but rather seemed to be drawing a rather strange conclusion that having children stifles one's creativity as a physicist...and also seemed to have built into it an assumption that people without children are not "grown up."

    I think it's reasonable to expect there is a productivity constraint on someone who has to balance time spent on research with time spent on raising a family, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a creativity constraint, or a quality constraint on the work they do.
     
  13. Apr 5, 2008 #12

    Gokul43201

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    On the other hand, it is difficult to make the case that the productivity constraint in absolutely no way affects creativity or quality of work. And there's the question of what really makes a "better physicist". Most of the really good physicists around today are hardly one-hit-wonders. Productivity, I believe, fuels creativity.
     
  14. Apr 5, 2008 #13

    tgt

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    Do you have kids of yourself? Maybe they might after their kids grow up?
     
  15. Apr 5, 2008 #14

    Chi Meson

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    Some people, no. Some people, yes. Unfortunately, too many people expect that parenthood releases some sort of maturity hormone, or productivity enzyme. It doesn't.
     
  16. Apr 5, 2008 #15

    tgt

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    Valid points here.

    I was only thinking about the childhood imagination but Gokul raised a more practical issue which is much more important then the one I raised. However they're connected.

    One can take it further and say moving out of the parent's home is a substantial impact towards lowering productivity as now you'd have to take care of everything. That is assuming you had supportive parents who took care of everything for you.

    So the best possible situation is to have extremely supportive parents who are willing to take care of you but that is extremely rare. Although maybe not so if that allows you to be really productive and produce brilliant physics which would earn a generous amount of money which you can then repay your parents.
     
  17. Apr 5, 2008 #16

    tgt

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    That's a good point but you can't be too involved just like an employee shouldn't be too involved with his/her customer?
     
  18. Apr 10, 2008 #17

    vanesch

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    A few years, that's ok. It's an experience in life. But to live your entire life like that, no thank you.

    The "no" was: "no thank you for such a career"...
     
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