What's your opinion? Your Popularity and Your Job.

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cristo

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Quite surprising, beause, every science teacher we've had in our school always seemed to be very depressed, and, cosmology is crazily tough, as far as I have heard.
It's probably not fair to compare scientists with science teachers. Most physics teachers are not physicists (at least in my definition of the word).
 
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What group do you want to be popular with? If you want to be popular with the general public then find work that appeals to the masses, whether that be some form of entertainment or politics or whatever. If you want to be popular with scientists and other educated people then ask those people what they would like to do for themselves. Then form some general consensus and make that banal dream your own.

If the responses have a humorous tone to them I would guess it is because popularity appeals to stereotypes. If you really want to be popular then identify yourself by excelling in whatever task you undertake. If the purpose of your labor is to collect gratitude from others then the value of your work is disassociated from the product of your labor. When constant praise wanes your sense of fulfilment wanes with it. So become involved in a field that really interests you and you will be much more satisfied and successful than you would choosing a field for its stereotypical platitudes.

If you really want to impress someone then think for yourself.
 

Chi Meson

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It's probably not fair to compare scientists with science teachers. Most physics teachers are not physicists (at least in my definition of the word).
Hey, watch it! you're getting...kinda...correct about that one.

These are 10-year old stats, but only around 60% of high schools in the country offer a Physics class, and only about half of those are taught by someone with an actual degree in Physics.

[Edit: from last Feb's The Physics Teacher, 23% of all Physics Teachers had a major in Physics, 8% had a minor in Physics, 10% had a major in "physics education," and 3% had a minor in "physics education." That's a grand total of only 44% of all Physics Teachers with any kind of degree at all in Physics.]

Last time I was sent for IB training ("International Baccalaureate," a special degree program our school offers , supposed to be tough) I was in a room with 20 other Physics teachers from all over the country, and nearly half of them were actually math teachers who were told that they were going to be teaching physics too.

There were several "heavy booters" among them.
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=322925
 
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'what sounds coolest?'.
So we were on the annual sailing weekend holiday with the entire squadron, when somebody who overheard us talking flying jargon, asked: "So what are you guys doing for a living?"

-"We are cooks"

-"no no no, cooks don't talk like that, who do you think you're fooling, well?"

-"Okay, you got me there, actually, we are fighter pilots".

.... :uhh:

Well I guess you had to be there.
 
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fuzzyfelt

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Nice chart but I wouldn't agree with the part that say skill required. You can't measure the difficulty of professions different things are easier for some people than others. I would doubt that Einstein was able to act or play and write music like other people.
You may want to know that Einstein was a very good violin player. Seriously. And BTW, this is a log-log plot
:smile:
'Once the famed Einstein was rehearsing with the Budapest String Quartet as a guest soloist, and kept missing his entrances because he was not keeping proper time.

Finally the leader, Alexander Schneider, stopped the quartet and gently reproved the famous scientist.

"What's the matter, Albert?" joked Schneider. "Can't you count?"'

http://ezinearticles.com/?Einsteins-Gypsy-Violin&id=1362964

(Also mentioned in Wilczek's 'Longing for Harmonies' book.)
 
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"What's the matter, Albert?" joked Schneider. "Can't you count?"
Quite frankly, I am a musician myself and I can count more than one professional musician among my personal friends. According to today's standards, Einstein was a better instrumentalist than is necessary to sell albums :tongue2:

Anyway, this is so moot. Let us say that the "skill" on the vertical axis refers to different units, not a "universal skill", but only limited to a given curve at a time, with a scale going from 0 to 1, 0 being "no skill at all" and 1 being "the best in the world at it". It could actually be rigorously defined, provided one can rank professionals among themselves. I do not think the original meaning was that all professional scientists are better at p*rn than the majority of professional p*rn actors.
 
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If you really want to impress someone then think for yourself.
:approve:
If you really want to impress someone you care about, why not impress your own self ?
 
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You should see people shrink away from me when I tell them I am a "high school physics teacher." Apparently "not popular."
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Maybe I shouldn't yell it.
I'm going to be a high school teacher.
 

Moonbear

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An astrophysicist once told me that, on planes, he responds to the question, "So, what do you do?" with:

"I'm a physicist." if he doesn't want to be disturbed;

"I'm an astronomer." if he feels like chatting.
I do something similar, but it's sort of the opposite. If I don't feel chatty, and someone asks what I do, I just tell them I teach anatomy at the med school. They might ask a few more questions, but everyone knows what anatomy is, so the answer usually satisfies them. If I feel like getting into an explanation of what I do, I might answer that I'm a reproductive neuroendocrinologist. I used to think that would stop them in their tracks, since most people can't even pronounce neuroendocrinology, but, unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. They will then persist in asking me to explain what that is. If I'm prepared to listen to someone babble for an hour about their neuroses, I will tell them I'm a neuroscientist.
 

fuzzyfelt

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Quite frankly, I am a musician myself and I can count more than one professional musician among my personal friends. According to today's standards, Einstein was a better instrumentalist than is necessary to sell albums :tongue2: ...

I don't disagree, it just seemed too apt not to quote. :smile:
 
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BobG

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Quite surprising, beause, every science teacher we've had in our school always seemed to be very depressed, and, cosmology is crazily tough, as far as I have heard.
Perhaps the science teachers you've met are depressed because of "No Child Left Behind" which every class has to be dumbed down to the point that every student is guaranteed to pass regardless of how much science they know by the end of the class.

Or perhaps they're depressed that they work at school with such a low budget that the school won't buy the physics teacher any toys. Good toys are absolutely essential to teaching physics since seeing is believing. (Or worse yet, work in a school system with such a low budget that the students have to share text books between different classes - Class A takes the books home to do homework on Monday; class B takes the books home to do homework on Tuesday provided the students in Class A remembered to bring their books back Tuesday morning; etc)

Being a teacher can be depressing, period, unless the teacher's fortunate enough to be employed in a good school district.

In fact, the more qualifications a teacher has that can obtain a job in the private sector, the less likely that they'll actually endure the frustrations that go along with being a teacher. You get a rather polarized group - really good teachers that stick it out because it's their passion and really bad teachers that can't find any other job. The middle gets sucked out of the career field.



Anyway, this is so moot. Let us say that the "skill" on the vertical axis refers to different units, not a "universal skill", but only limited to a given curve at a time, with a scale going from 0 to 1, 0 being "no skill at all" and 1 being "the best in the world at it". It could actually be rigorously defined, provided one can rank professionals among themselves. I do not think the original meaning was that all professional scientists are better at p*rn than the majority of professional p*rn actors.
Thank God you said this in such a nerdy way that the average person won't understand a word of it. You do understand that us nerds need some exotic myth that allows us to pick up females, don't you?!
 
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Proffessor in theoretical thermonuclear physics
 

turbo

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I made twice as much money per hour playing music in bars than I ever did in my work as an IT specialist or as an optician. Pretty younger ladies never came up to me to ask me how to configure a LAN running Novell or how to calculate convergence for near-vision OCs in eyeglasses. Somehow, they seemed quite comfortable telling me about the last time they saw me play somewhere and asking about my music. If you want to impress the ladies, be a musician and be pretty darned good at it AND have a day job to pay the bills. It is pretty tough to book 30-40 hours of gigs per week, and bars don't pay for health insurance or unemployment.
 
Honestly, now that I'm quasi doing physics (I'm in the middle of my masters) I wish people would STOP asking me about physics. I find it really frustrating. Everyone I meet wants to know what I do and if I say "it's complicated" they feel insulted, if I try to explain it they feel frustrated that they don't understand advanced physics from 10 minutes description and get dejected. And don't even get me started on religious extremists. I was getting into a cab once and the cabby was like "So, what do you do?" and I was like "I'm a student" and she asked what I studied and I said "computational physics" and I kid you not, the very next thing she said was "Really? So what's your opinion on evolution". And I'm canadian (can't imagine what it's like in the southern states). I think turbo-1's got the right idea. Chicks dig musicians.
 
Oh. And I do like quantum many-body/emergent phenomena stuff and if I had a nickle for every time, after finding out I was a physicist, someone immediately asked me about string theory or einstein... I once had the particular displeasure of meeting a women who claimed that all physics was known by the ancient greeks (she of course had never taken a physics course or read a book about it of course) and on further conversation with her I also found out that she apparently thought Albert Einstein was an ancient greek. She was quite surprised when I told her he only died about 50 years ago.
 
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I think I read some of the most interesting stories about people's attitude towards physics in this thread. And I must say, that after reading these, either people involved in physics are too good at it, or people not involved in it are idiots. Most people won't understand a thing a scientist says. Scinece is very deep. It doesn't appeal to the common masses to talk about it, but scientists hold the most value in terms of a country's manpower.

It's crystal clear that pure sciences are the toughest area a person can study in. Most of the time people get frustrated, and you get popular only amogst the very limited amount of people who might understand a minute percentage of what you say about your career; it doesn't work out when you want a girlfriend... you get the title of a nerd...

So, seeing the fame versus skill graph, musician is the most fruitful in every way. You get fame with due accordance to your skill and efforts. And, best of all, you get girls, you get pouplar, its all cool...
 

cristo

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And I must say, that after reading these, either people involved in physics are too good at it, or people not involved in it are idiots. Most people won't understand a thing a scientist says. Scinece is very deep.
I think that depends on the scientist! In my opinion, every scientist should be able to describe what he's doing to an average lay person.
 
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I think that depends on the scientist! In my opinion, every scientist should be able to describe what he's doing to an average lay person.
Having to do it in less than five minutes is a challenge, though!
 

Moonbear

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Having to do it in less than five minutes is a challenge, though!
Yes, it's a challenge, but I agree with Cristo on this. It's worth sitting down and thinking about it and coming up with a short summary of your work that can be understood by the lay public. Since most research is publicly funded, it's absolutely essential to be able to convey to the public what you do and why it's important to them.

You should actually be able to do it in far less than 5 min. You should be able to do it in two to three sentences.

For example, here is the lay description of my research that I can usually provide to anyone and they understand what I'm saying:
I study cells in a part of the brain that is important for controlling reproduction. By better understanding what cells are involved and how they work, we can better understand and treat infertility in women and develop safer birth control with less side effects.

I can expand that to about a paragraph in my grant applications when I need to provide a lay summary that's a little more specific, and I can further explain any part of that to someone with enough interest or knowledge to ask more specific questions. Being aware of the prevalence of religious fundamentalists who oppose birth control, I always mention infertility first so they hear that before they hear birth control. If someone questions why we should bother treating infertility, I explain about the connection between estrogen and things like bone mineral density (osteoporosis) and cardiovascular and stroke risks. Whatever their views on fertility treatments, once I explain that there are often other health risks to the type of infertility I study, they start to understand why the research I do is important.

That's the take-home message I want anyone to walk away with...why it is important enough to the general public to merit public funding. As long as I use taxpayer money to fund my work, I have an obligation to the taxpayers to explain to them what I do with their money and why it's important.
 
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Hmmmmm...... well said, scientists are like another race, but it is very important for us to be able to explain our work to others. If we're not popular, at least we are very important and very productive individuals who's work needs to be publically funded. Anyways, what's good to know is that we are well respected (if not popular).

P.S> Mabey I shouldn't be using 'we'.... I'm not scientist... I'm only in ninth grade, but I plan on becoming a scientist. And, after this thread, I feel so much like I'm part of the whole family of scientists! Actually, I didn't even realise I was using the first person plural...
 

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