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Which field of science is dying the fastest?

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Relative to the major advances in science and technology, what field of science (i.e. medicine, chemistry, engineering) is losing purpose in the world? I was reading on a different science forum about how some medical tests that used to be done in hospitals can be accomplished at the home bedside now and some advanced ones in the next couple of years.

 

- or an even simpler question if you prefer: What college science degree is least likely to attain employment in the future?

 

-My pick is biologist.

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-My pick is biologist.

It will depend on the specialisation I think. General lab experimental biology I think will be okay, especially if related to medical science. Specialising in "wildlife biology" I don't see much call for.

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I think college degrees are general enough that this won't be a major issue. Graduate degree specialization is probably more at risk of becoming obsolete, but I think skills in science transfer pretty well.

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There's more to it than the ability of the science. politics and regulation play a major role. I was in clinical medicine but now only work part-time because I'm studying physics. I believe that biology is dwindling in it's ability to keep up with the other sciences but it doesn't mean it will die out. Professions are also at the whim of politics and public understanding. If you want a prime example of this go into and NHS hospital. The medics at Imperial College London are very heavily funded and manage to flush huge grants down the toilet. I've worked with medical professors who just calculate the mean and get confused when you talk about distribution. Fail to understand the most basic concepts of probability even though all medical research is based on it and fail to understand mechanisms. It's because medicine is a memory game. However, because the NHS funds it, it blindly throws money at it. Because of this universities knock up ramshackle post-grads just to mass sell them to the government. One of my friends did a masters in clinical research at Imperial (ranked 5th in the world at the time) and his stats module was how to use excel. Also the abuse of government regulation can keep these professions well funded. The general member of the public highly values bio based degrees because they can see the direct benefit even if it's not the most effective. Many people have told me that I'm silly for studying physics as it's useless to society. Even your average nurse struggles to see how physics improves medicine. Many doctors and nurses have said that all I can do with a physics degree is teach physics, nothing else. Thus charity runs and dinners are held in their name by the public. Because of the funds phds are offered to medical students before they've even graduated. Unfortunately image image image gets the funding and brings in the money.

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It will depend on the specialisation I think. General lab experimental biology I think will be okay, especially if related to medical science. Specialising in "wildlife biology" I don't see much call for.

 

I kind of disagree. There are schools out there with a high reputation in ecological sciences. In this context wildlife bio is actually quite relevant. It will depend on the area, though. I suppose finding a job in a very urbanized country/state will be hard, but in areas which much higher agricultural/resource based economy things are different. Also according to e.g Hesa (Higher Education Statistics Agency) biology students had very good employment statistics. For example, 2009/10 (there are newer statistics available here), the employment rate for full-time first degrees in bio is 91.1%, which is higher than for comp science or engineering (84.7 and 87.7, respectively). And that despite the huge number of graduates (which is a bit of a problem in biology, as it usually has more graduates and hence, more competition than other natural sciences).

It should be noted that these figures do not distinguish whether graduates are working in their respective fields.

Nonetheless, in comparison it does not seem that it is anywhere near its way out.

 

Also I think what swansont said:

 

I think college degrees are general enough that this won't be a major issue. Graduate degree specialization is probably more at risk of becoming obsolete, but I think skills in science transfer pretty well.

 

is a major point in this context.

 

As such, I do not see any field really declining at all.

Edited by CharonY

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I kind of disagree. There are schools out there with a high reputation in ecological sciences. In this context wildlife bio is actually quite relevant. It will depend on the area, though. I suppose finding a job in a very urbanized country/state will be hard, but in areas which much higher agricultural/resource based economy things are different.

So where are all these wildlife biologists working?

 

Are there plenty of wildlife biology positions advertised? (If you know where I would be very interested as I know someone looking for a position like that, he has a PhD though.)

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One of my personal attitudes about life is that things are cyclic, and I like to compare them to a pendulum that swings back and forth.

 

None of the sciences are dieing; whatever has been learned and is captured in journals might be lost if all copies of a journal are lost, but ATM that seems unlikely as many libraries have copies of journals. To a large extent funding drives the things scientists work on, and funding agencies establish priorities about things they think are most important and less important. They fund some things and not others, and as some technology becomes well known, for example analyzing DNA, funding is changed to other projects (e.g., designing a bacteria).

 

Valuable research can be done in every scientific discipline, in addition to all that has already been done. The disciplines that seem unimportant today may become important for reasons unknown today. Although we would like to know the future, we are poor at predicting. Inevitably, we must wait and see what happens, and the surprises make life interesting.

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No field of science is dying. However, it is becoming more challenging to find new species because of the destruction of natural habitats caused by humans.

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So where are all these wildlife biologists working?

 

Are there plenty of wildlife biology positions advertised? (If you know where I would be very interested as I know someone looking for a position like that, he has a PhD though.)

 

I would be hesitant to say plenty, as I would not state that for practically any science job, currently.

I know a few people outside of academia that work in the broader area of wildlife assessment in Canada/USA they are quite split between provincial/state jobs and consulting companies. The latter pay quite well and are still recruiting (last thing I heard was up to 85k for someone with a master's degree, but with practical experience). Their job is often to provide data for wildlife and vegetation assessment to companies and ensure that companies can survive governmental audits. One thing that often pops are are also fisheries (if you have specialized in aquatic biology a bit). Again, these job are often not PhD level, but I tend to be surprised by the amount of jobs found to these more traditional biologists than in my line of work (where there is considerable competition from the chemistry/medical/pharmacological area, depending on the precise specialization).

 

Of course there is also academia where you will have always at least one position in the area of zoology and animal phys or ecology that could be filled by such a person (depending on specialization, as wildlife biology is a bit broad). But getting tenure is always a bit of a tricky beast, regardless what you do.

 

 

 

Endercreeper01, on 19 Apr 2014 - 8:19 PM, said:

No field of science is dying. However, it is becoming more challenging to find new species because of the destruction of natural habitats caused by humans.

 

That may be the case though there is usually no discipline dedicated to that particular task. One of the things could be biodiversity research during which new species may be found accidentally, so to speak.

Edited by CharonY

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I don't think alchemists could find much work today.

 

One of roles of alchemists was to find a way to turn metal to gold.

In the modern world there is more alchemists than ever before in history.. ;)

And the highest concentration of them is in CERN.

Any high energy physicist will tell you how to create gold, even in couple different ways.

f.e. take isotope Hg-198 and bombard it by anti-proton will give you Au-197.

 

Very impractical way of producing gold.

 

If ancient alchemists wouldn't be so secrete, perhaps science revolution would progress faster.

Edited by Sensei

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One of roles of alchemists was to find a way to turn metal to gold.

In the modern world there is more alchemists than ever before in history.. ;)

And the highest concentration of them is in CERN.

Any high energy physicist will tell you how to create gold, even in couple different ways.

f.e. take isotope Hg-198 and bombard it by anti-proton will give you Au-197.

 

Very impractical way of producing gold.

 

If ancient alchemists wouldn't be so secrete, perhaps science revolution would progress faster.

 

You could be right about speed of progress - but a valid and open discussion of results might have caused them to realise they were completely barking up the wrong tree; would this have lead to them moving onwards with the good empirical side or maybe they would have picked another lot of hocus-pocus that was even less use?

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I do not think any field of science is dying at all - there are advances made in each and every field. That said, maybe the need for meteorologists will be reduced in the future because computers take over some of their work?

 

It seems that a lot of the predictions of the weather are done by a computer, and field measurements are now also fed into the computer automatically. We'll probably only need a few groups of meteorologists to build and maintain these computer models (and the supercomputers that they need to run). For the rest, it is just a matter of getting that information out there, which can be done by anyone. So, while in the past, every nation had its own weather service (and it still does), I can foresee a future where these merge and share information. That science certainly won't die, but it will require less manpower, and all the more computer power.

 

It's probably rather easy to disagree with me (space weather, anyone?), so I'll read your disagreement with my post below.

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I do not think any field of science is dying at all - there are advances made in each and every field. That said, maybe the need for meteorologists will be reduced in the future because computers take over some of their work?

 

It seems that a lot of the predictions of the weather are done by a computer, and field measurements are now also fed into the computer automatically. We'll probably only need a few groups of meteorologists to build and maintain these computer models (and the supercomputers that they need to run). For the rest, it is just a matter of getting that information out there, which can be done by anyone. So, while in the past, every nation had its own weather service (and it still does), I can foresee a future where these merge and share information. That science certainly won't die, but it will require less manpower, and all the more computer power.

 

It's probably rather easy to disagree with me (space weather, anyone?), so I'll read your disagreement with my post below.

 

There are probably more meteorologists these days because of the computing technology that's matured in recent decades. It's hard for me to see why the trend would reverse itself.

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There are probably more meteorologists these days because of the computing technology that's matured in recent decades. It's hard for me to see why the trend would reverse itself.

Wouldn't it progress to a point in the near(-ish) future where CaptainPanic's statement would be true? Is it possible that computing power would become sufficient enough for manned computers to become rather outmoded?

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Wouldn't it progress to a point in the near(-ish) future where CaptainPanic's statement would be true? Is it possible that computing power would become sufficient enough for manned computers to become rather outmoded?

 

Possible? Sure. But it runs contrary to the trend in science, where more powerful tools that make one level of inquiry routine expand the field elsewhere, and that draws more people in.

 

Put another way, as I see it, more computing power means models with a finer resolution. That means more new models to try, not fewer. You only stop investigating when you're satisfied with the status quo. Does that sound like meteorology to you?

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Possible? Sure. But it runs contrary to the trend in science, where more powerful tools that make one level of inquiry routine expand the field elsewhere, and that draws more people in.

 

Put another way, as I see it, more computing power means models with a finer resolution. That means more new models to try, not fewer. You only stop investigating when you're satisfied with the status quo. Does that sound like meteorology to you?

So the further/higher tier of technology we progress to won't make us start running out of ideas - or an ultimatum of human innovation to put it another way - it will open up more paths every tier we progress? That makes sense, like an equilibrium between the stem of ideas we progress, and the number of leaves that flower off the stem.

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What may happen is that technology makes certain skills obsolete, but in turn requires new ones, whereas the field continues to exist and/or branches into new technology-enabled areas.

For example, computer skills were not needed 50 years ago. Today it is a basic skill in many areas of science (and everyday life, for that matter). In molecular biology being able to crate and run nice sequencing gel was highly-sought after. Nowadays, you can to the whole things with kits and cartridges. Has molecular biology become obsolete? Quite the opposite, precisely as swansont described.

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Possible? Sure. But it runs contrary to the trend in science, where more powerful tools that make one level of inquiry routine expand the field elsewhere, and that draws more people in.

 

Put another way, as I see it, more computing power means models with a finer resolution. That means more new models to try, not fewer. You only stop investigating when you're satisfied with the status quo. Does that sound like meteorology to you?

 

What if models update themselves, because they are based on neural networks or other cognitive forms of programming? Essentially a situation where more data will nearly automatically improve the predictions. You would need a lot more manpower to install all the measurement systems, and to maintain the hardware, but none of those are actual meteorologists. They are electrical engineers, IT specialists, etc.

 

The way I see the future is that instead of having many groups of weather-scientists, you will end up with a smaller number of research groups who have more powerful tools at their disposal. But the majority of manpower in such a research group is not actual meteorologists, but other professionals who enable the meteorologists to make even better predictions of the weather.

 

As I said before, it is easy to disagree with the point I made earlier (I am not so sure myself either, and predicting the future is notoriously difficult).

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So the further/higher tier of technology we progress to won't make us start running out of ideas - or an ultimatum of human innovation to put it another way - it will open up more paths every tier we progress? That makes sense, like an equilibrium between the stem of ideas we progress, and the number of leaves that flower off the stem.

 

Thus far when "cutting edge" becomes standard because of maturing technology, a new "cutting edge" has emerged, in areas that could not be previously investigated.

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