Thursday, July 27, 2006

More on "Science is hard"

Over at Uncertain Principles is a worthwile discussion of the difficulties of research, as opposed to classroom work. Even beyond experimental physics, research is hard.

And the ability to get things done separates the good physicists from those that should do something else. Once, someone working with me was trying to explain that he had been working hard and explicitly mentioned the hours he had been working. He just didn't get it. None of that matters. You can either solve problems and get stuff done or not. Good physicists get things done quickly, and bad ones slowly (in the simplest of terms), but if you want to mention the hours you put in as if that means something, you need to go into a field where you punch a clock.


Anonymous said...

Great!!! Couldn't agree more! Unfortunately, in an era where quality tends to quickly disappear, more and more "quantity" (often in the form of "number of hours worked") tends to get much more attention (plu the fact that many physicists don't seem to know the meaning of having a life beside the Lab)....sad!

Anonymous said...

Once again we see the gap between what senior physics in people do and what they say.

On many campuses the physics building is the only building unlocked at night because you'll find graduate students tending experiments around the clock. Some professors call the lab on the weekend to make sure students are around.

Richard Feynmann confessed to interests such as drinking alcohol, getting into fights in bars, picking up girls, playing bongos and decoding hieroglyphics, but that was before 1968.

Talk to an engineering professor, even an assistant professor, and you'll hear about some hobbies: maybe they have some land they hunt on, or they collect old manuscripts, or they run a software or biotech company on the side.

I've never heard a physics professor confess to having a hobby; the one outside activity that's allowed is having children -- but even there you'll meet many a physics professor who wants kids, but put off having kids until his wife (also a professor) got tenure, only to discover that the ravages of age have made her infertile.

MV said...

Researchers genuinely in love with Physics are fast becoming rare. Yet, let us hope for the best.
VM (