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Wanted – more rocket scientists

As regulators impose more onerous capital adequacy and reporting requirements on the Western world’s banks, investment firms and brokerages, demand surges for increasingly sophisticated computer infrastructure to keep track of all the new systems deemed necessary to make the regulations work. As a result, demand is rising, according to this Financial Times article, for graduates with science degrees, especially in the field of physics. And it does not come as much of a surprise to learn that Britain’s mostly state-run education system is not doing a very good job at churning out young physics students. I am shocked, shocked to hear this!

I would greatly prefer it if clever folk with scientific knowledge were engaged in the potentially fruitful areas of nanotechnology, biotech, aviation and civil engineering, all fields likely to see continued rapid growth, than working to make increasingly Byzantine bank regulations work better. It looks like a waste to me. We want our budding Isaac Newtons and Richard Feynmans working on spacecraft, not greasing the wheels of the latest EU banking directive.

12 comments to Wanted – more rocket scientists

  • Speaking as a recently graduated physics student, great! Something tells me working at a bank will make me a hell of a lot more money than government work … and if I can help capitalism obey the letter of the law while completely ignoring the spirit, all the better.

  • toolkien

    Speaking as a recently graduated physics student, great! Something tells me working at a bank will make me a hell of a lot more money than government work … and if I can help capitalism obey the letter of the law while completely ignoring the spirit, all the better.

    And it gives me a warm fuzzy to think of the State merging itself with ‘spirits’ all the more. You might surprised just how ‘spiritual’, or more exactly a distinct value system, most capitalists actually work by but for State interference. It’s usually the State’s definition of correct attitude, ultimately empty of value, that the capitalists try and avoid. Perhaps if individuals and private associations were free to be perfectly self interested instead of obligingly going along with the State’s spirituality you would be much more comfortable with whereever your path leads you.

  • toolkien

    Speaking as a recently graduated physics student, great! Something tells me working at a bank will make me a hell of a lot more money than government work … and if I can help capitalism obey the letter of the law while completely ignoring the spirit, all the better.

    And it gives me a warm fuzzy to think of the State merging itself with ‘spirits’ all the more. You might surprised just how ‘spiritual’, or more exactly a distinct value system, most capitalists actually work by but for State interference. It’s usually the State’s definition of correct attitude, ultimately empty of value, that the capitalists try and avoid. Perhaps if individuals and private associations were free to be perfectly self interested instead of obligingly going along with the State’s spirituality you would be much more comfortable with whereever your path leads you.

  • It’s worse in the United States. We’ve got possibly the worst record of any major industrialized nation with regard to educating the young in fields such as science, engineering and mathematics.

  • Andrew Duffin

    People sometimes ask me, “if computers are so great, where’s all the extra productivity they generate?”

    The answer is, I think, that it has all gone into servicing regulatory regimes and requirements which would have been completely impracticable in any previous age.

    Anyone who works in my industry (Pharma) will, I am sure, agree.

    Whether this helps us cure more diseases, or allows people to live longer or be happier, is a moot point.

    But it certainly keeps us IT types in work.

  • Grant Gould

    Generates lots of work in the window-repairing business, that broken window fallacy does. Nice of the state to support the window-repair sector in these tough times.
    –G

  • Stehpinkeln

    Chuck, you are dead wrong. You are looking at a different part of the elephant. Look at who wins the prizes in Chemistry, Physics and Medicine. The American educational system is designed to produce excellence. You are comparing it to systems that are designed to get students to a certain, rather low, level of eduction. Apples and Oranges.
    Go back 100 years and start a baseline. Then compare the USA’s performance to the rest of the world’s. Then ask ypuself why?
    You are measuring the wrong part. It’s the higth that counts and you want to measure the width. Look at where the Nobel prizes in Science go and which educational system produces the scientists that invent the things that create wealth.
    That is what counts, not how many idiots can be raised to imbecile or imbeciles to morons.

  • Gary Gunnels

    Stehpinkeln,

    It is well documented and widely acknowledged that the U.S. is losing its scientific and technological edge, especially to Asia. Of course I consider that a good thing; more competition is good, and wealthier societies are good. I welcome the end of America as the world’s economic behemoth, because that means a richer and more prosperous world and a richer and more prosperous America! :)

    Look at where the Nobel prizes in Science go and which educational system produces the scientists that invent the things that create wealth.

    (a) There are no Nobel prizes in “Science”; there are Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine however. (b)The problem with this notion is that Nobel prizes often have considerable lag time between the work and the award. (c) The educational systems that appear to be on the rise regarding the creation of inventions, etc., appear to be Asian ones (anyone else see the article in the Economist about the growth of GMO research in India, China, etc.?).

    List of Nobel Prizes in Physics 2004-1990:

    2004 – U.S.

    2003 Physics – Russia and the U.S.

    2002 Physics – Japan and the U.S.

    2001 Physics – Germany and the U.S.

    2000 Physics – Germany, Russia and the U.S.

    1999 Physics – Netherlands

    1998 Physics – Germany and the U.S.

    1997 Physics – France and the U.S.

    1996 Physics – U.S.

    1995 Physics – U.S.

    1994 Physics – Canada and the U.S.

    1993 Physics – U.S.

    1992 Physics – France

    1991 Physics – France

    1990 Physics – Canada and the U.S.

  • Stehpinkeln

    You proved my point. Thank you. 11 out of 14 ain’t bad. If you expect 14 out of 14, you need to adjust your aim. BTW, IIRC the USA has about 6% of the worlds population. All other things being equal, one would expect the USA to have 6% of the Nobel Prizes. Obviously something isn’t equal. Might that be the educational system?

    “Education… has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading”.
    G. M. Trevelyan, English Social History (1942)
    British historian (1876 – 1962)
    “America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week”.
    Evan Esar
    American Humorist (1899 – 1995)
    ” Everyone has a right to a university degree in America, even if it’s in Hamburger Technology”.
    Clive James

  • Gary Gunnels

    Stehpinkeln,

    I didn’t prove your silly, jingoist point at all, since most the years an American won the award he/she shared it with a non-American.

    And France has three prizes in physics in the last fourteen years (roughly 25% of the prizes), yet it has roughly 1% of the population of the planet. Does that suddenly make France an unrivaled intellectual superpower? :)

  • Jim Gwyn

    Speaking as a Chemist, I can tell you the reason for the drop in enrollment in sciences is money. No more and no less. When a lawyer or money trader can make more in a week than I could in my career, it makes me very envious. (Yes I know, not all of “them” make that much.)

  • Elegba Olanrewaju Olusola

    mail me often