Wednesday, August 09, 2006

That thing you do

  • Camera news: Nikon is out with it's new D80 and Gizomodo has lots of links. What's more, they've got the scoop on a new camera by Fuji which can see in the infrared and ultraviolet. Apparently they're marketing to scientists (among others). (insert requisite dumb string theory joke here)

  • Universe News: Good discussions of some recent studies of the age of the universe can be found at Rob Knop's place and Bad Astronomy. Bottom line is: we'll stick with the current 13.7+/-0.2 billion years, but there's an interesting result that conflicts with it. I always like to ask my students what their uncertainty would be if they were to guess my age? How does that compare to the percent uncertainty quote above? Pretty amazing, huh?

  • Career News: Steinn and Chad discuss the problems of the physics track and whether people should go into physics. I'd like to add my thoughts, but I just don't have the energy to go into it at any length. But here are some quick thoughts:

    • I know plenty of postdocs who have been out of grad school for close to (or in some cases past) ten years.
    • Some have an easy time of things, but you should expect a rather painful process at low pay as you watch your friends go off and buy sports cars and such.
    • You should be prepared for other options at almost every step. You should always try to keep your options open, or at least know what the options might be. There's the financial industry: derivatives pricing, risk analysis, etc. There's biological stuff (protein folding, drug design, etc).
    • My experience has been that senior people made us undergrad and grad students aware of the bleakness of the job market. To their credit they acted a bit like a Jewish Rabbi confronted with a potential convert...a good friend who was marrying a Jewish guy talked to a rabbi about converting and was "turned away." Apparently, the tradition is for the potential convert to be turned away three times. The moral being only those "destined" to be physicists will persevere in the face of such bleakness.
    • And, at the same time as I acknowledge many out there are stuck in a postdoc rut, I'm amazed at the number of people I know who have gotten faculty jobs.

    Oh, also check out this post about blogging professors at Hsu's place.

  • Political News: Lieberman lost in the primary as did Delay in his quest to get himself off the ballot.

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