Have Doctorates in Theoretical Physics become worthless?
After having nearly given up on my plan, because people think I'm crazy, I am now reinvigorated by the discovery that "I'm not alone". Science requires much of people, often that in our modern world the lack of education in science and the coveted desire to earn as much money in the shortest time possible, to teachers who lack the fundamental understanding of the subjects they teach, leading to "hand-waving", also known as "this is true; just shut up and accept what I'm saying as true, slaves!". I feel more of the latter category.
It appears, however, that I'm not the only person. Scientists of the higher order appear to fall into my category. I believe science is one of those horrible disciplines that has moved into the beast of corporate society. In order that we might make companies more profitable, we are asked, as scientists, to focus purely on the applied. The problem here stems from the nature of scientific discovery. You don't get to create new theories without discovery and without people to take seemingly "magical" formula in the archaic language of mathematics and utilize this to formulate highly advanced models of reality. The problem comes from these absolute noobs (your household business executive, or your run of the mill politician or general) and their inability to understand the value of experimentation.
In the early 1990's, Congress halted construction on the Superconducting Super Collider, the largest supercollider ever constructed. Wikipedia
I've written on this before, but it was canceled, because Congress was allowing NASA (a highly political organization) to be involved in the International Space Station. Since this was in all regards a "diplomatic" enterprise, Congress saw the value less in terms of science, something they undoubtedly could not fathom, but instead in terms of the political capital they could garner from the US populace.
What were the eventual costs?
The livelihoods of an entire generation of American particle physicists and theoretical physicists who were studying in preparation of the multitudes of jobs that would result from US research at the SSC.
To give you an understanding of the attributable undertakings involved, when the project was canceled in 1993, the facility's 87.1 kilometres (54.1 mi) and 80 TeV per proton. The SSC's planned collision energy of 80 TeV was almost pentuple the 14 TeV of its European counterpart, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva.
The associated $12+ billion in development was mostly on account of the massive civil engineering costs associated with building the 87.1 kilometer tunnel.
The US had no facility of this kind. At this point the US is running way behind and depending solely on Europe to develop high level research, something never before known.
We instead chose a purely diplomatic issue, something Americans could see and touch (in a way) as opposed to this vastly unusual project no one seems to understand. We spent $2 billion dollars building the supercomputer mainframe facility, hiring staff, etc. What followed by the cancellation was the toileting of 1/6 of the construction costs and providing nothing in return.
The US instead chose to budget for stealth planes and the like, costing over $60 billion.
In the end, we put out of work an entire generation of scientists (theoretical and experimental) on the cutting edge of research, who now must compete with scientists in Europe for positions at CERN.
If Americans want to look at the problems in our research and development, and understand how our science community is broken, just look at how we weight science in the community of our peers. It's value is only in what we can see and touch, and is completely outside the weight of objective form.
Congress, as recently as the Cybersecurity bills, SOPA and PIPA has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding where science is concerned.
It is in the opinion of this humble member of Occupy that the scientists, educated students and those with an inclination for science should begin to involve themselves in the political arena, for the only way Congress will seek to improve, is if we "bring in the nerds" as one Congressmen recently commented (Rep. Jason Chaffetz) during the hearings for PIPA. Congress has no idea what it is doing, and the attributable costs are immense. With the consequences science has for our development as a society, it seems only logical to have those with the understanding making the decisions , as "fundamental" understanding is necessary, and these people don't understand half of what the scientists mean when they "dumb it down" for them. This is a bad sign.
Scientists! Get your law or political science degrees (or both!) and start running for political office! We need you! Stat!