I couldn’t get a job today

peter-higgs-book-chalkboard

Peter Higgs, 84, a British theoretical physicist, will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics today in Stockholm for his pioneering research in the 1960’s related to the Higgs Boson particle theory (“The God Particle”).

The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers following his groundbreaking work in 1964 which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass.

He doubts that a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.”

Edinburgh university’s authorities then took the view, he later learned, that he “might get a Nobel prize – and if he doesn’t we can always get rid of him”.

Higgs said he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. A message would go around the department saying: “Please give a list of your recent publications.” Higgs said: “I would send back a statement: ‘None.’”

He has never been tempted to buy a television, but was persuaded to watch The Big Bang Theory last year, and said he wasn’t impressed.

Read entire story in The Guardian: “Nobel Prize winner behind Higgs-Boson says he couldn’t get an academic job today


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Comments

  1. He fits my image of the brilliant professor, intent only upon his work and indifferent to all else (though I think ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is great which just proves that I’m not even in his sphere, let alone his universe.

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  2. what he says is sad but true

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  3. Not blinded by science….

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  4. Yes it’s sad the way so much is reduced to number counting. As a PhD graduate there is always pressure to publish your thesis, and publish more and more just so the departments get the points which influence funding choices.

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  5. Reblogged this on Bright, shiny objects! and commented:
    Dr. Higgs is certainly the last of a dying breed. I agree with him on many levels! I tell my classes I did my doctoral work when scholarship was HARD — using the library and an IBM Selectric without a correcting key! With all the tools we have at our disposal, shouldn’t we be rising to new intellectual heights? Squirrel…

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  6. Sometimes I feel like we have become a society that is too busy doing nothing. We’ve lost so much at the same time that we’ve made huge technological advances. It’s become difficult to even explain to our children what the world was like and could be like…if we could just stop being busy with this nothingness. 😦

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  7. I don’t know whether to be proud of him or feel sorry for him (in a generic sense…I admire him greatly). I agree that the Internet has gotten out of control, that corporate America demands way too much of its employees. But I also know that without connecting now and then to the 21st century, you are missing out on a lot of amazing advances. Or garbage. Depending on how you look at it.

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  8. He’s right in many ways, but maybe a little too rigid in others. Obviously he feels very self-confident. I admire that and his brain power.

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  9. i see him as a visionary,a no-nonsense and brilliant problem-solver. he doesn’t have time or the patience for the games and competitions that have become such a part of many learning institutions, as well as corporations. luckily, he has accomplished what he set out to do, and does not have to prove anything or deal with all this as the pressures increase. some may call him a dinosaur, but i find him a bit of an accidental revolutionary hero. a simple and straight-forward man, with a complex mind.

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  10. He wasn’t impressed, but I am (with this post).

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