Quantum Physicist/ String Theorist – Bullshit jobs and how to get them
Produce theories about the nature of the universe that are not amenable to proof by normal human means
The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks.
$$: Academic professor salary. If you become a cultural icon, like Brian Greene or Stephen Hawking, you can be one of the few who attain rock star status equal to that of, say, the host of a popular cooking show.
ß: 0–60 in 4.8 seconds, like a Corvette, but in negative time/space.
Skills Required: Bullshit at such a high level of discourse, with such a profound understanding of arcane mathematical concepts, that everybody thinks they are stupider than you.
We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent “elementary parts” of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independently behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole.
David Bohm and B. J. Hiley,
“On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as
Implied by Quantum Theory,” 1975
Duties: Describe this universe and either two others, three others, nine others, or eleven others, if you count the Mall of America.
Famous Examples: So many!
It’s an industry. Niels Bohr, who explored the fact that light can be both a particle and a wave at the same time; Werner Heisenberg, who found that everything is made uncertain simply by the fact that we study it; more recently, the string theorists, who have now broken up into two warring camps, each fi ghting for control of PBS. One school says there are many, many universes, possibly an infi nite number. The other school is more conservative and counts just a couple of cosmic alternatives, and has the benefi t of being represented by a total babe.
How to Get It: Like plastic surgeons, divorce lawyers, and other high-l evel performers, bullshit artists in the science game need to jump through a few hoops before they earn the right to practice their craft with impunity.You have to be good at math, for one thing, and we’re not talking about arithmetic, either, or even trig. We’re in the fi eld where guys draw weird arrows all over the place.That’s a big hump for a lot of us. But if math d oesn’t scare you, proceed to acquire other nonessential knowledge through college, graduate work, and postgraduate work. After that comes post-postgraduate work, which then delivers you into the rare portion of the population which, at the age of thirty, has never existed outside of school from the time they were three. W
The Upside: In your hands you hold the secret to the machinery that runs the universe.That’s heady stuff, which is good—because you’re a head case, dude! But seriously.The media loves you.Your last book was a best seller that everyone bought but nobody read, which, as you know, is the very best kind. And while other guys from your class are playing with petri dishes, you’re accelerating fi ctional particles at hyperspeed underneath the mountains of Switzerland.
The Downside: None of what you do helps anybody understand anything.
The Dark Side: Tomorrow . . . next week . . . perhaps a year or two from now . . . some sharp kid is going to come along with a theory that takes a wicked detour directly from Einstein, goes completely around quantum theory, and explains the entire universe in simple, elegant terms that do not need a billion- dollar machine to prove. Your entire realm of endeavor will be relegated to a footnote on the twentieth century, the way the nineteenth was obsessed with phrenology—the science of reading head bumps. W
Where You Go from Here: Writer of questions for