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Peter Higgs on how to survive in science today


Peter W. Higgs Here’s Richard Webb interviewing Peter (“Higgs boson”) Higgs on the occasion of his receiving the “1851 Royal Commission medal for outstanding influence on science” at New Scientist:

What would your advice be to someone who has your sort of esoteric interests?

Go undercover. I wasn’t productive in an obvious way; I didn’t churn out papers. I think these days the University of Edinburgh would have sacked me long ago, there’s just too much competition. So now I would say, do it in your spare time, and get yourself a solid publication record in the sort of thing that gets you recognition more readily. More.

Higgs has noted this before: Higgs boson discoverer wouldn’t get a job today? “He doubts 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.”

The rest of the interview is, alas, forgettable toffdom from an otherwise brilliant man.

See also: How come “publish or perish” didn’t touch Fred Sanger?

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self-frustrating managerial expectations? kairosfocus

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