Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Solving groundbreaking physics problems as a career?

  1. Aug 26, 2012 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
  4. Aug 26, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    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."
  5. Aug 27, 2012 #4
    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.

    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.
  6. Aug 27, 2012 #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.
  7. Aug 27, 2012 #6
    What Nabeshin said.

    There are lots of reasonably funded scientists out there working on difficult problems. Most won't simply "solve" them.
  8. Aug 27, 2012 #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:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook