Monday, November 22, 2010

Ting's the Thing

What do you do if you are a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist who is passed over for work on the LHC? It’s a tough job market out there, but it would seem that having a Nobel on your CV would knock down more than a few doors. If you’re Samuel Ting, you move from the micro- to the macrocosm, from the tiny bits of matter out of which matter came to the product of it all—the stars. These two worlds constitute the two elements of the Unified Theory that Einstein was never successful in completing, though it was a solution he aspired to. Described by the Times as “one of science’s great control freaks and worrywarts,” Ting, a 74-year-old M.I.T professor, “discovered a particle that would revolutionize physics, but he took so long checking for errors and looking for more particles that another lab found it and he wound up splitting the Nobel” (“A Costly Quest for the Dark Heart of the Cosmos, NYT, 11/16/10). That was back in 1974. Today, Ting is the author of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a device that studies the dark matter that Ting and other scientists think is the glue that holds the universe together, and which is due to be flown on the space shuttle Endeavor to the International Space Station on February 27. Essentially, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is the LHC on wheels, what the Times calls “an-eight ton assemblage of magnets, wires, iron, aluminum, silicon and electronics that is one of the most ambitious and complicated experiments ever to set out for space.” The $ 1.5 billion dollar project, which according to the Times has involved 600 scientists from 16 countries, aims at revealing the mysterious substance “whose gravity determines the architecture of the cosmos.”  Some people will go to any lengths to get a job.


  1. How far we have fallen from the glory days of the 1950s and 1960s, when several thousand scientists and technicians were employed in the aerospace industry and it allied scientific fields.

  2. the scientists have become quants at banks


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.