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Comment Re:It's not to avoid taxes... (Score 1) 716

Sure, but if you are an American citizen living in Switzerland or some other countries in Europe, it's now effectively impossible to set up a bank account. Even a plain old checking account! It has not just affected the rich tax evaders, who most of the time were just hiding their money overseas and living in the US still, but regular, non-rich people who happen to live and work outside the US. It's not entirely the US governments fault of course, since it is a two way street after all. I can understand at least though why US citizenship could give some expats trouble, and become undesirable for reasons other than getting out of capital gains tax. Oh well, the rich will just find ways to keep on avoiding taxes, and the non-tax evaders will get screwed.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 433

At least in high energy and astrophysics, most of the PhDs seem to end up in finance/insurance or some other sort of programming job anyway after they are ejected at some point from the PhD > post doc > assistant prof > assoicate prof funnel. If you aren't in the top 10-20% of your graduate school cohort its better to cut your losses and exit the field (though you'll likely be forced to anyway after your PhD).

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 433

What I have seen as an American soon to have a PhD in physics, is that most physics PhD leave the field because of lack of jobs in physics. Depending on the sub-field of physics the production rate of PhDs can exceed the number of available jobs in the field by an order of magnitude. Basically one permanent position in academia per 10 or so PhDs. The problem comes from the fact that outside of a few sub-fields there is basically zero jobs in industry. The vast majority transistion into something else that uses some of the transferable, non-physics-specific skills they obtained.

Comment Re:Dont forget.... (Score 1) 694

Yeah, there is a reason I gave up my career in IT and got a degree in physics.

Why would you do this? Long hours of menial tasks, angry colleagues*, heavy work loads, the ever cracking whips of the slave drivers in the histogram mines... I pray you escape before they brand you with the mark of ownership. 'Overqualified' It shall be burned upon your brow. Forever marked! A token of your slavery, it shall close all other paths.

I hope against all hope that it is not particle physics you chose! Doublely damned are its acolytes! If this is so, then I as one of the fallen beseech you not to follow my path! Is but a small corner of supersymmetric parameter space worth your eternal soul?

*Note: politics devoid of social skills doesn't make it better it just makes it different.

Comment Re:It is all about incentives (Score 1) 732

The thing is though with science research is that the production rate of PhDs outstrips the creation rate of jobs for people with them in a lot of fields (talking hard science PhDs here - I don't have experience with engineering). For the field I am in its about 10 to 1. It has been like this for the last 40 years in my field. Funding is more or less constant adjusted for inflation, and each professor produces 10-15 PhDs over their career. The rate needed to replace themselves is one. There is no level of sacrifice that is going to get you a professorship. Yet the academic culture is geared to the idea that if you don't get a tenure track position you are a worthless failure. For a lot of scientists there isn't even the choice of a technical job after they get flushed out the system. They just have to scrounge from whatever job they can find that they are not "overqualified" for. The entire research system in this country is fundamentally broken and unless it gets fixed we're going to get unsatisfactory results.

Comment Re:Mama don't..... (Score 5, Interesting) 732

Actually the worse thing about scientific research in a university setting (talking as an actual physicist here) is that you work for 15 years (grad school plus post-docs) at low wages just to find out you didn't win the tenure-track lottery. It's too bad, so sad and then you're flushed out of the system. Now you're in your mid-thirties with no job and no real world job experience.

Then professors wonder why grad students would go off to be quants after their PhD instead of pursuing *non-existent* faculty positions in some sort of fatalistic death march. The funny thing is the lack of permanent positions in physics is not a new thing. It has been like this since the 1970s. Yet the numbers of physics PhDs that universities churn out keeps going up. Heck, for theorists there often isn't any options other than finance, insurance, and consulting.

I guess it is the same for engineers now too going from the article. One positive, I guess, is that this makes it easier for physicists to beg a prospective employer to give them that job that should have been filled by some EE. ;)

Comment Re:Sounds like a headache (Score 1) 1306

People actually don't take the bus because other people might talk to them? Crazy. I've rode public transportation in many different cities in the US, and I've almost never had people randomly talk to me. It is not really that different in Europe either in terms of talking to strangers on public transit (more people use public transit of course ;) ). At least from the time I've lived in France and Switzerland no one talks to strangers on the bus/tram either. It really is no different than the US in that respect. The Swiss (in Geneva at least) seem to be even less open about interacting with neighbors than Americans even.

Comment Re:It's a good disconnect (Score 1) 609

As someone who is a physicist I can't say I really agree with your assessment. At least not in general. In my experience a few physicists are amazing, the vast majority are nothing special, and some are downright scary programmers. One of the scariest things I have ever seen is an svn repository were hundreds of physicists have commit privileges.

Now it could be that the average CS graduate is still worse (I have no experience with that), which would be terrifying or maybe its that I am dealing with PhD students, post-docs, and various faculty and so the ones that can actually program really well have fled, since as you said (and sadly even I have to admit) physics is a terrible choice for a career*.

*Unless you win the tenure lottery. Oh the glorious 1-in-10 chance which if you fail leaves you a 40 something with no job and no real world skills!

Comment Re:Science and Money (Score 1) 757

The problem is the entire structure of higher education in science is broken. I'm a US PhD student in physics. There is basically one designed track of the whole system: undergrad -> phd -> post-doc (or 2+) -> tenure-track faculty position. The major problem is that for most PhDs the post-doc to faculty step does not happen (PhD production >> faculty openings). That leaves you having to find a new career in your mid-to-late thirties with likely no work experience outside of academia. If your lucky your area of specialization is useful for someone.

PhD programs in most sciences are basically a way for professors to get highly skilled labor very cheaply, and then skim the top 5% or so off the pool to replace themselves. It is a bit of a harsh toke to ask someone to commit their whole life up until their mid-30s at low pay to have only a 1-in-20 chance to make a career out of it.

You might ask why I'm doing this. The answer is love of science and a bit of naivety.

Comment Re:Shutting down (Score 2, Informative) 90

The reason for the shutdown in 2012 is to replace the faulty interconnects (too high resistance) in the quench protection system (QPS) which caused the accident in fall 2008. With the interconnects they have now they can only run the magnets at less than nominal current and still have the QPS protect the magnets from damage if there is a quench. Once these are replaced, the LHC should be able to operate closer to the design beam energy.

Comment Re:The Atoms (Score 1) 362

Within our current understanding of quantum chromodynamics (field theory of the strong interaction - i.e. the interaction between quarks) color confinement means effectively you cannot have 'free' quarks. Of course you can have color-neutral bound states of quarks, but so far the only stable quark bound state is the proton*. Assuming QCD is more or less correct the smallest bit we can work with is effectively protons and electrons. *The neutron is only stable within an atomic nucleus. Free neutrons will decay into a proton.

Comment Re:I am terrible at math..but (Score 1) 1268

I have seen worse on exams first hand. On one test I saw 5/16 evaluated to 1/11 and (3m)/(4m) evaluated to 1/m. This person did this for division everywhere on the test. If it had happened once I would have just assumed it was a mistake made while hurrying. It was like they had just learned some insane version of division.

The truly scary part was this was in a first-year undergraduate course for physics majors...

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