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Higgs boson discoverer wouldn’t get job today?


Peter W. HiggsNot in today’s university system, Peter Higgs told the Guardian, en route to collect his Nobel Prize:

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.”

By the time he retired in 1996, he was uncomfortable with the new academic culture. “After I retired it was quite a long time before I went back to my department. I thought I was well out of it. It wasn’t my way of doing things any more. Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”

The personal information is quite interesting too.

Some of us wonder whether the need to churn out papers is what keeps stuff like string theory alive.

Most discoveries in Particle Physics today require modeling or experimenting using massive collaborations. Today's physicists (like the bygone eras of 1800s) need to be multidisciplinary to tackle research problems. While theoretical physicists can dream up scenarios, only billion dollar team collaboration can test out the maths and deliver the required proof. So yes, old timers will not fit in today's work climate. selvaRajan

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