Solving groundbreaking physics problems as a career?

In summary, Nabeshin said that it is not easy to solve difficult problems in mathematics, and that it is hard to get funding to work on them. He also said that most scientists working on difficult problems are not going to simply "solve" them, and that it is hard to get funding to work on them unless you are a tenured professor or can think up some multi-million euro application.
  • #1
PairofDimes
2
0
Seems like it might be easier to just cut out the middlemen who hold the dollars and do a bunch of math somewhere until there are a few less "unsolved problems in mathematics" on wikipedia. What's stopping scientists from doing this? Much more efficient in terms of physicist-life-hours.
 
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  • #2
These problems are unsolved for a reason... They're very difficult. Suggesting, 'let's stop kidding around and solve them already' isn't really going to move forward the effort much.
 
  • #3
Some people do.

The practical issue though, is one of support. If you don't have anyone supporting you in the work that you do, you have to figure out a means of doing that yourself. For those without independently wealthy parents this usually means getting a day job.

Then the problem becomes one of time. To really make progress on the difficult problems you need a lot of dedicated time and for most people life gets in the way.

There are ways around the dilemma. Some people actually do produce quality work as "amatuers."
 
  • #4
PairofDimes said:
Seems like it might be easier to just cut out the middlemen who hold the dollars and do a bunch of math somewhere until there are a few less "unsolved problems in mathematics" on wikipedia. What's stopping scientists from doing this?

The need to eat.

The other issue is that there is a lot of "infrastructure" that you need in order to do science, and you don't realize that the infrastructure exists until you don't have it. For example, having a well stocked research library turns out to be rather difficult. Also, having access to computers and internet is also non-trivial.

Much more efficient in terms of physicist-life-hours.

It's in fact not.

For example, suppose that you need to buy tickets to get to a conference and then track the money that you used to buy the tickets to get to the conference. If you work at a university, there are people who do this for you, so that you can spend time thinking about things other than how to work the bureaucracy.

If you get rid of "middlemen" you will in fact be overwhelmed with administrivia.
 
  • #5
Unless you can build an ultra-sonic death-ray. Then you can chill in your lair thinking about stuff, enjoying the money the people of the world give you for not using your ultra-sonic death-ray.
 
  • #6
What Nabeshin said.

There are lots of reasonably funded scientists out there working on difficult problems. Most won't simply "solve" them.
 
  • #7
Also keep in mind that not all problems are of immediate commercial interest, ergo it is pretty hard to get funding to work on them unless you:

a. are a tenured professor
b. can think up some multi-million euro application if it's solved. It's a sad world we live in :smile:
 

1. What education and skills are required to become a physicist?

To become a physicist, one typically needs a bachelor's degree in physics or a related field such as mathematics or engineering. Advanced positions may require a master's or Ph.D. in physics. In addition to formal education, skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and mathematical proficiency are essential for success in this field.

2. What types of groundbreaking physics problems can a physicist solve?

Physicists can work on a wide range of groundbreaking problems, from understanding the fundamental laws of the universe to developing new technologies. Some examples of current physics problems include understanding dark matter and dark energy, developing quantum computers, and studying the behavior of complex systems such as climate change.

3. How does a physicist approach solving a groundbreaking problem?

Physicists use the scientific method to approach and solve problems. This involves formulating a hypothesis, designing experiments or models to test the hypothesis, and analyzing data to draw conclusions. Collaboration and creativity are also essential in finding innovative solutions to complex problems.

4. What are the potential career paths for a physicist?

A career in physics can lead to various opportunities in research, academia, industry, and government. Physicists may work in universities, national laboratories, or private companies, depending on their interests and skills. Some physicists also pursue careers in fields such as finance, consulting, and data science, where their analytical and problem-solving abilities are highly valued.

5. How does the work of a physicist impact society?

Physics is a fundamental science that underpins many technological advancements. The work of physicists has a significant impact on society, from improving medical imaging and treatments to developing renewable energy sources and communication technologies. Additionally, physicists play a crucial role in addressing global challenges such as climate change and resource conservation.

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