Solving groundbreaking physics problems as a career?

  • Physics
  • Thread starter PairofDimes
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  • #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.
 

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  • #2
Nabeshin
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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
Choppy
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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
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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
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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
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What Nabeshin said.

There are lots of reasonably funded scientists out there working on difficult problems. Most won't simply "solve" them.
 
  • #7
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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:
 

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