Scientists give physics the thumbs down

December 10, 1999

Physics is losing some of its attraction for many of science's most brilliant minds. A poll of 130 of the world's leading physicists for the millennium issue of the magazine Physics World revealed 17 per cent would choose not to study the subject if they were starting university this year.

Seventy per cent declared they were happy with their subject and another 13 per cent were unsure.

Complaints ranged from poor pay and the restrictions on research imposed by government funding to the lack of major breakthroughs on the horizon. Biosciences and computing seemed more attractive propositions for some.

Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, admitted he would be "unlikely to be inspired by (today's) typical student physics curriculum", while Artur Ekert, a quantum physicist at Oxford University, observed: "On the whole, physics is boring."

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