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Science As A Career


Photon Guy
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For somebody with a passion for science, it can, in my opinion, be a very rewarding career. Also, there's lots of wealth in a career as a scientist, indeed you can make mountains of money. Something that is inaccurate, I believe, about the fictional character of Sheldon Cooper, is that he isn't rich. He lives in an apartment that he shares with Leonard. A good scientist should be rich enough to be able to live in a mansion. Im not saying a scientist necessarily would live in a mansion, just that a good scientist should be able to afford to live very well if one wants to. 

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money. 

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4 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Also, there's lots of wealth in a career as a scientist, indeed you can make mountains of money.

You can win the lottery, too. But that's not the typical result

 

4 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money.

Presenting the edge cases as typical is not a fair argument. You can have a thousand destitute people plus these three who will be, on average, multi-millionaires. 

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In the UK the average annual wage for a scientist is about ~40k. The national average is ~31k, so scientists are making above average, but not by a huge margin. In London that might just be enough to buy a crummy flat depending on how you manage your finances.

Like many industries these things follow a pareto distribution in which just a very few make the big money.

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5 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money. 

I am not sure I would regard any of these as scientists.

Engineers yes.

This is not meant to detract in any way from their achievements however.

Perhaps some better examples of true scientists might be Alfred Nobel or the Wright Brothers.

 

Then again perhaps we should distinguish between career scientists ie those who earned their living from it eg Faraday and those who were already rich enough not to need to make money from their work eg Cavendish or Newton.
Career scientists are more the norm these days, but I don't think their remuneration is that spectacular compared to say doctors of medicine.
Some have made substantial sums from their work by careful commercial application via a company and a few in publications (books).

Sadly quite a few have died penniless or near penniless.

The range of circumstaces and outcomes is enormous.

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5 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

For somebody with a passion for science, it can, in my opinion, be a very rewarding career.

I imagine it is.

5 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

there's lots of wealth in a career as a scientist, indeed you can make mountains of money.

The wealth for a scientist is, making a living by doing something that fascinated them.

Money is just a means to an end.

5 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money.

Not an end in it self, businessman does not equate too scientist.

It's a good lesson in life; don't chase money to be happy; chase life to be content... 😉 

5 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money.

I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.

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8 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

 

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money. 

As mentioned, those folks are not trained scientists by education, but perhaps more importantly, they did not make money via science or research careers. It also helped that their respective families were relatively well-off (not sure about Bezos, tbh).

If anything the example actually demonstrates that one should not have an academic career if wealth is the goal.

In fact, academics tend to earn less over a career than their counterparts in industry. A part is that after a PhD entry salaries in many industries are at least decent, whereas postdoctoral salaries is often just somewhat higher than minimum wage (depending on where you are) and then by the time you actually manage to get a faculty position, the industrial counterpart has moved on to senior position, outpacing academic salary at every step. Although being lower than industrial jobs, tenured salaries are not bad, but certainly far from making mountains of money (and certainly not anything near mansions). That being said, it is far worse for those who do not get a tenure track position. Sessionals barely make a living, for example. In other words, if you are in just for the money, focusing on research is not the way to go.

As others mentioned, the actual reward is in the job itself, though it may depend on the individual to find what is important to them. Teaching, for example can be challenging, especially when you realize that the class dramatically drops performance when you make it harder for them to copy/paste assignments and exams to post online. The joys of online teaching...

 

3 hours ago, Prometheus said:

In the UK the average annual wage for a scientist is about ~40k. The national average is ~31k, so scientists are making above average, but not by a huge margin. In London that might just be enough to buy a crummy flat depending on how you manage your finances.

In addition, in many countries, including Canada, France and Germany  (not sure about the UK and not that common in the US) professorial salaries are negotiated as part of public service or similar unions. So there are hard limits on upper salaries. 

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14 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.

Bezos and Musk graduated from Princeton and MIT respectively, as engineers.
Gates, dropped out of Harvard after two years, and most of his 'degrees' are honorary.

That is not a put-down of their intelligence, as all three are brilliant.
( Gates, the drop-uot, scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs. )

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2021 at 7:59 AM, studiot said:

I am not sure I would regard any of these as scientists.

Engineers yes.

An engineer is a scientist. 

On 5/6/2021 at 7:59 AM, studiot said:

Perhaps some better examples of true scientists might be Alfred Nobel or the Wright Brothers.

The Wright Brothers were engineers, so there you have it, an engineer is a scientist, a type of scientist. 

And I do believe the Wright Brothers did become relatively wealthy from their airplane inventions.

 

On 5/6/2021 at 10:42 AM, CharonY said:

As mentioned, those folks are not trained scientists by education, but perhaps more importantly, they did not make money via science or research careers. It also helped that their respective families were relatively well-off (not sure about Bezos, tbh).

From early on Jeff Bezos displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency and he graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in electrical engineering and computer science. 

Elon Musk graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics. 

Bill Gates took computer science courses. 

I would say all three had some training in science in their educational backgrounds. 

On 5/6/2021 at 5:07 PM, MigL said:

Bezos and Musk graduated from Princeton and MIT respectively, as engineers.
Gates, dropped out of Harvard after two years, and most of his 'degrees' are honorary.

That is not a put-down of their intelligence, as all three are brilliant.
( Gates, the drop-uot, scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs. )

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard because he didn't need to go there anymore, he was ready to start his career in computers.

Edited by Photon Guy
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On 5/6/2021 at 1:45 PM, Photon Guy said:

Take for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. There you have it, scientists make mountains of money. 

Those individuals are innovators.  They create new value by applying science to produce groundbreaking products that are extremely useful to ordinary people.  

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17 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

From early on Jeff Bezos displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency and he graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in electrical engineering and computer science. 

Elon Musk graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics. 

Bill Gates took computer science courses. 

I would say all three had some training in science in their educational backgrounds. 

In other words, all of them had at best a science-based education, but none of them worked in any capacity as scientists.

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20 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a scientist.

Not really. There is overlap between the disciplines, but they are distinct in both their methods and their objectives. A scientist can adapt to engineering work given time and appropriate training, and vice versa, but that does not make an engineer a scientist.

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21 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a scientist. 

No. And scientists are not engineers. 

Quote

The Wright Brothers were engineers, so there you have it, an engineer is a scientist, a type of scientist. 

And I do believe the Wright Brothers did become relatively wealthy from their airplane inventions.

The plural of anecdote is anecdotes. Not data.

The best you can do here is confirm that a scientific background doesn’t prevent you from getting rich.

 

Quote

From early on Jeff Bezos displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency and he graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in electrical engineering and computer science. 

Elon Musk graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics. 

Bill Gates took computer science courses. 

I would say all three had some training in science in their educational backgrounds. 

Science background. But not work as scientists, as CharonY notes.

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On 5/9/2021 at 5:25 PM, Area54 said:

Not really. There is overlap between the disciplines, but they are distinct in both their methods and their objectives. A scientist can adapt to engineering work given time and appropriate training, and vice versa, but that does not make an engineer a scientist.

An engineer is a specific type of scientist. The term "scientist" is very broad, an engineer is just a specific type of scientist, there are many different types of scientists.

On 5/9/2021 at 6:21 PM, swansont said:

No. And scientists are not engineers. 

Not all scientists are engineers but engineers are all scientists, of a type.

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24 minutes ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a specific type of scientist. The term "scientist" is very broad, an engineer is just a specific type of scientist, there are many different types of scientists.

Not all scientists are engineers but engineers are all scientists, of a type.

No, they are not. Different department in universities; often called out as distinct from science in their organization. (look at how many have "college of science and engineering" or separate colleges altogether) Different approach to solving problems.

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33 minutes ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a specific type of scientist. The term "scientist" is very broad, an engineer is just a specific type of scientist, there are many different types of scientists.

Not all scientists are engineers but engineers are all scientists, of a type.

I get what you're trying to say, but you may as well say "not all dog's are guard dog's, but a shih tzu will still try"...

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3 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a specific type of scientist. The term "scientist" is very broad, an engineer is just a specific type of scientist, there are many different types of scientists.

Not all scientists are engineers but engineers are all scientists, of a type.

You are mistaken. Scientists seek to gather knowledge. Engineers seek "build" things. I have worked with scientists and with engineers. I have worked as a scientist and as an engineer. The two minds sets are different. The methodologies are different. The aims are different. I repeat, you are mistaken.

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4 hours ago, Photon Guy said:

An engineer is a specific type of scientist. The term "scientist" is very broad, an engineer is just a specific type of scientist, there are many different types of scientists.

Not all scientists are engineers but engineers are all scientists, of a type.

You could make an argument the other way round since engineering is by far the older discipline.

In other words scientists are a particular type of engineer.

However engineers sometimes 'do' science   -  when they want to find or try something out.

Equally scientists sometimes do engineering when they want a particular piece of apparatus that does not already exist.

When I cook the dinner I act as a chef not a scientist or an engineer.

Which simply prooves that humans are more versatile than artificial categorisation.

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1 hour ago, MigL said:

Typically, an engineer 'applies' ( usually known )science, while a scientist 'derives' it.

What known science did the first neolithic engineer to build a clapper bridge 'apply'  ?

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7 minutes ago, studiot said:

What known science did the first neolithic engineer to build a clapper bridge 'apply'  ?

Surely the key word in @MigL's post is "typically"? He suggests, and I agreee, that typically an engineer applies known science. Applies is a key word in my sentence. Engineers are (typically) engaged in the application of principles. Scientists are (typically)engaged in the derivation of principles.

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1 hour ago, Area54 said:

Surely the key word in @MigL's post is "typically"? He suggests, and I agreee, that typically an engineer applies known science. Applies is a key word in my sentence. Engineers are (typically) engaged in the application of principles. Scientists are (typically)engaged in the derivation of principles.

Indeed I am just adding to my own observation that engineering predated science by perhaps thousands of years.

Noelithic engineers had no science.

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One could change the wording a bit insofar that an engineer applies known principles to make things work rather than necessarily having a rigorous scientific framework (which is probably less applicable to modern engineering).

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On 5/12/2021 at 2:46 PM, studiot said:

What known science did the first neolithic engineer to build a clapper bridge 'apply'  ?

Just noticed this, Studiot.
First I had to look up what a 'clapper' bridge design is 😳 .
Once I had done that, I would say that the first Neolithic designer used science to observe how people could step from stone to stone when traversing shallow waters, and then came up with the idea that if the stones are too distant, why not drop wooden boards, or tree trunks, between them to 'bridge' the distance.

The second person to build one, applied this observational science, and, as engineers often do, optimized the construction, using flat-top pillars on which he may have rested wooden boards, or even concrete slabs, eventually.

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