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It's hard to make progress in this world


My concern is that it’s hard to make any progress in this world, and therefore make this world progress.

You spend the first 20-something years of your life musing about how you’ll use the rest that are left. If you are lucky, you hit on an idea to be an astronaut or engineer or whoever. Then you spend next decade on actual learning the skills you will need to achieve your goal. By the way, there is life. Your private life. ‘cos everyone have one, even the biggest foreveralone nerds. You spend your youth with your books, not partying? Your bad. But hey, now your are 30 and sick and tired of your mother telling you how hard you shall work to obtain success. You finally meet your other half and live your life. There comes kids, planned or not - take your pick. Feel the pressure now? Gonna provide for them, so focus on making money.

Here comes the main part. Probably already educated or about to finish, you start focusing on getting better jobs as mentioned engineer. You abandon the idea of getting PhD for the sake of your children / family / yourself. Then comes the time your offspring flies the nest - you may be in your fifties, so not bad, still some time to go. You decide to go back in the game, but guess what - your brain got a little too rusty for the job of a researcher. You’re a good worker with a remarkable experience - but being a visionary is a different thing. Besides, many things have changed - not only in science but also in the social background - you lost contact with some old lab friends, other lost interest in you. You may somehow succeed, but Nobel Prize is unlikely.

There is of course other variant of the story. You dedicate your every possible piece of time to The Project. You fall sleep (if) thinking about it and you wake up with new ideas. You meet some people you are attracted to, but you two just don’t get along with due to high expectations and no time to meet them. You become a popular and successful scientist yet full of envy and bitterness. World owns you as you have discovered new particles or create new material but who cares if you sleep alone?

To those who’ve succeeded in both fields - I salute you.