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Particle Physicists Facing Insane Competition For Work

Jim_Austin writes “Teams of hundreds of young scientists — including many grad students and postdocs — staffed the Large Hadron Collider and helped make one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent decades. Now they must compete for just a handful of jobs. Quoting: ‘The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master’s and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab’s document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) The two largest particle detectors fed by the LHC, the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)—which both independently spotted the Higgs—boast teams of 3000 and 2700 physicists. By themselves, the CMS and ATLAS teams minted at least 174 Ph.D.s last year. That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900. In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for. The situation is equally difficult for postdocs trying to make the jump to a junior faculty position or a permanent job at a national lab. The Snowmass Young Physicists survey received responses from 956 early-career researchers, including 343 postdocs. But INSPIRE currently lists just 152 “junior” positions, including 61 in North America.'”… Jim_Austin writes “Teams of hundreds of young scientists — including many grad students and postdocs — staffed the Large Hadron Collider and helped make one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent decades. Now they must compete for just a handful of jobs. Quoting: ‘The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master’s and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab’s document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) The two largest particle detectors fed by the LHC, the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)—which both independently spotted the Higgs—boast teams of 3000 and 2700 physicists. By themselves, the CMS and ATLAS teams minted at least 174 Ph.D.s last year. That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900. In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for. The situation is equally difficult for postdocs trying to make the jump to a junior faculty position or a permanent job at a national lab. The Snowmass Young Physicists survey received responses from 956 early-career researchers, including 343 postdocs. But INSPIRE currently lists just 152 “junior” positions, including 61 in North America.'”

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