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Erasmus00 last won the day on August 21 2009

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About Erasmus00

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  1. Non-zero. For a non-conservative force, the integral would be non-zero. In general, you are overthinking this. Take a step back- can you find two paths along which a different amount of work is done? What happens if I travel slowly from x = 0, t = 0 to x = x_1, t = t_1. Now, what happens if I travel quickly to arrive at x_1, and then simply wait until t = t_1. Does the force do different amounts of work? Is the work path independent?
  2. The very theory that predicts the graviton predicts that its coupling is INCREDIBLY weak. We simply have no data where we expect to see gravitons. Hell, we have no direct data where we observe gravitational waves, which are easier to observe by a factor of hbar.
  3. I'd say- funding. The lack of growth in scientific funding, and the resulting pyramidal structure in the scientific workforce (something like 7/10 physics phds are forced out of 'STEM' all together within 5 years of getting a phd) makes pursuing hard problems a career killer. The average phd time is up above 6 years, and then the average time from postdoc to faculty position is right at 6 years. During this time career uncertainty is huge- without a steady stream of published results you will lose your job. So we take physicists during their most creative years and 1. tie their funding t
  4. It depends on what you mean by simulation. I'd suggest something like an emulated person is a type of simulation, even if the rewind,replay, inspect properties can't exist. My largest problem is that (before I'd even heard of the institute), I had a student who had learned some rather strange notions of both statistics and physics from some singularity institute literature. Its very hard to get someone pre-committed to wrong ideas to unlearn them! When I dove into looking at the singularity institute, they struck me as being a lot like the cryonicists, Drexler, etc. They strike m
  5. I've never been impressed with Bostrom's work, although that might be colored by my hugely negative impression of groups like the singularity institute. As far as the trilemma, I think there are other possibilities. It seems probably that the most resource efficient way to do an ancestor simulation is to seed a planet with some simple lifeforms and wait- i.e. experiments might be easier than simulations. After all whatever a "posthuman" civilization might be operating over very long time scales. Perhaps there is an upper bound on calculation density- Moore's law flattens out before s
  6. This doesn't work- IF you imagine the speed of light works like disturbances in a medium the speed of light would NOT be frame-independent. In a medium (like air) the speed of disturbances (like sound) is not constant. Thats why jets can catch up to their own sound waves- in their frame of references, disturbances move in the opposite direction at a slower speed relative to someone on the ground.
  7. I think part of my outlook is colored by the fact that most of my cohort finished a phd between in 2008 and today. Science took a huge beating in the recession. Ultimately, the "first world" is shifting away from a manufacturing economy and more and more to a service economy. If you don't build stuff, you don't need scientists working to develop newer products. There seems to be plenty to do in economics, and still some to do in computer science, but knowing and understanding physics is a total career dead end. I imagine the crunch in physics will eventually spread to other fields. I
  8. But here is the thing- if you get a phd you WON'T get more academic work. You'll find yourself on the other side of a phd working the same job you are doing now, having sacrificed several years of earnings. A phd in theoretical physics doesn't open many doors, and the ones it does open tend to be pretty awful (adjuncting for 2k a class), Most of my friends with phds in physics (myself included) are working for insurance companies doing stats work we could have done after undergrad. Do you think you would have been happier working in insurance than you were doing engineering work? Because
  9. What are you talking about? Academics are NOT recession proof. Science funding was the first area of discretionary spending to get cut when the deficit exploded. When funding gets cut, jobs go away. Most academics scientists are contingent labor, which means they are the first to go when the soft money dries up. When the SSC was cut in the 90s, hundreds of particle physicists lost their jobs. Most never had another job in science. You seem to have a very idealized view of the academic labor market. Go to your local university and talk to the adjunct professors, the science postdocs and
  10. Not all STEM phds are created equal. Economics, computer science and engineering phds are very different fields than science/math- if you have industrial demand your career options are tremendously expanded. Its also why economics and CS phds make 50% more than physics phds do when they teach at liberal arts colleges. No one in engineering/economics/CS does a postdoc, scientists usually postdoc for 5+ years (many professional societies use postdocs as a measure of a weak labor force instead of unemployment). Its a totally different job market. The majority of economics, engineering and CS
  11. I have been, for several years. I've spent the last few years applying to every university with a position for which I'm vaguely qualified. When do you decide to see the writing on the wall? Every single person stuck in postdoc limbo thinks "I just need to keep applying" and suddenly they are 40 years old, they've never made more than 40k a year, they have no savings, and NOW they are trying to switch jobs. I HAVE worked as an adjunct professor at a community college for the princely sum of 3k for a 4 credit course. If you manage to get a full teaching load, you can make maybe 20k a
  12. I agree, academia is what I am trained for. However, there are literally hundreds of applicants for every tenure track professorship, and I can't keep waiting for my career to start. To give you some idea of numbers, in the US in a given sub-field of physics there are between 10-20 professors hired in a given year. There are something like 150 phds granted in the same subfield. Most of those phds take temporary appointment waiting for a spot to open up, so in any given year are there are 3-6 years worth of phds competing for those 10-20 spots. Of my grad school class, 4/5 have left
  13. Which is the smarter play. Yes, I got my phd, but I sacrificed a decade+ of earning potential and no one in any industry cares even the slightest about the degree. If I had spent a decade after undergrad working at McDonalds I'd be in exactly the same position in terms of career, but I'd be financially much better off. Attempting a career in science is largely a low paying dead end- you spend 6+ years after undergrad training for jobs that largely don't exist, and you develop few transferable skills. Its a staggering waste, and it exploits the people who get suckered in. I feel physica
  14. Honestly, I'd say that retirement is a great time to get a phd. You've used your productive years to make some money, and have some retirement saving. A phd program would give you a chance to both teach and learn a subject you enjoy. A phd is a GREAT program IF you realize that its essentially a very low paid job in a subject you enjoy. If you don't need a job afterwords, and don't need money now, a phd is probably quite fun. It might be more work because of age/not fresh from undergrad, but who cares if it takes a decade instead of five years? Its just a way to spend some time in retire
  15. I'm not sure what thread exactly to put this in, so since my experiences are in physics, its here. So, some background- I finished a phd in theoretical physics a few years back. After finishing, I applied to industry jobs, liberal arts college positions, etc. I couldn't land any sort of "real" job, so I took a postdoc at a prestigious university. After finishing the postdoc, I applied for jobs again. No bites on the academic front. My previous experience had taught me a bitter truth- no engineering company (at least in the US) will hire a theoretical physicist when there are plenty o
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