Which scientists are more successful: Specialists or "Universal Nerds"?

  • Thread starter Spathi
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In summary, if you want someone who is knowledgeable in all areas of physics, then that person is not going to be very useful to you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for someone who is knowledgeable in a specific area of physics, then this person will be more useful.
  • #1
Spathi
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If, for example, a person works in the field of physics, what is more useful for him - to spend all his time on studying mainly such sciences as physics and mathematics (related to his profession), or also to study, for example, biology, ethology, history, subsections like game theory? I mean not only the breadth of knowledge, but mainly the interest in the sciences that contain philosophy and influence the worldview (such as the books of Richard Dawkins).
I can call myself a “universal nerd”. I believe that interest in abstract sciences and philosophy develops intuition, which is important in any fundamental sciences.
 
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  • #2
There also exist "Specialist Nerds".

What is good for who, will depend upon the particular desires and needs of the particular who in question.

Personally I have probably switched between specialist and generalist several times.
 
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  • #3
One more question: how many members of this forum talk not only about physics but also about biology and ethology? And how many of them have read the books of Richard Dawkins (The selfish gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The Greatest Show on Earth, etc)?
 
  • #4
Spathi said:
One more question: how many members of this forum talk not only about physics but also about biology and ethology? And how many of them have read the books of Richard Dawkins (The selfish gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The Greatest Show on Earth, etc)?
Who knows? We don't keep a list of people and what they talk about or read.
 
  • #5
Drakkith said:
Who knows? We don't keep a list of people and what they talk about or read.
Yeah, we stopped that 1985.
 
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  • #6
Spathi said:
One more question: how many members of this forum talk not only about physics but also about biology and ethology? And how many of them have read the books of Richard Dawkins (The selfish gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The Greatest Show on Earth, etc)?
You could do a poll.
 
  • #7
I had to look up ethology...am I disqualified? What's in a name.
 
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  • #8
@Spathi, @Spathi, @Spahi,

This isn't a philosophy forum. This isn't the first time you've been told that, and yet you keep trying to turn it into one. This is unlikely to be successful, and is unlikely to have any result other than to make everybody cross.
 
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  • #9
Spathi said:
If, for example, a person works in the field of physics, what is more useful for him - to spend all his time on studying mainly such sciences as physics and mathematics (related to his profession), or also to study, for example, biology, ethology, history, subsections like game theory?
That is not how 95% of physicists who work in physics do their job. That is, people who get paid to do research as opposed to people with an interest in physics.

Firstly, it is quite rare that we read books simply because by the time something has been published in a textbook it is already old; most of the time we read the original articles; we use "reference" books but that is about it.

Secondly, very few people who work in physics have time to read "random" books (or even articles) just in case they might turn out to be useful; most of us work on quite well defined problems which in turn are defined by the projects that fund our work. When we read something it is nearly always because it is somehow directly connected to what we are working on (or are planning to start working on).

There are some people who might be able to work the way you describe (maybe if you work at the Institute of Advanced Study or similar) , but they are in a very small minority.
 
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Related to Which scientists are more successful: Specialists or "Universal Nerds"?

1. What is the definition of a specialist scientist?

A specialist scientist is someone who focuses on a specific field or topic within science and has in-depth knowledge and expertise in that area.

2. What is the definition of a "universal nerd" scientist?

A "universal nerd" scientist, also known as a polymath, is someone who has a broad range of knowledge and expertise in multiple fields of science.

3. Which type of scientist is considered more successful?

It is difficult to determine which type of scientist is more successful as success can be measured in various ways. Some may argue that specialists are more successful as they have a deeper understanding and expertise in one specific area, while others may argue that universal nerds are more successful as they have a broader range of knowledge and can make connections between different fields.

4. Are there any notable examples of successful specialist scientists?

Yes, there are many notable examples of successful specialist scientists, such as Albert Einstein in the field of physics, Marie Curie in the field of chemistry, and Charles Darwin in the field of biology.

5. Are there any notable examples of successful "universal nerd" scientists?

Yes, there are also many notable examples of successful "universal nerd" scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, who was skilled in multiple fields including painting, engineering, and anatomy, and Benjamin Franklin, who made significant contributions in various fields such as physics, politics, and literature.

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