Friday, September 25, 2015
I am especially sad about Boulder and Monrovia because they are towns where scientists who worked at CU/NOAA/NIST/NCAR/JPL/Caltech used to live, but can't afford now.
When scientists at national labs can't afford to live close to work, we scatter to the four winds and no longer run into each other outside of work.
When something breaks down in lab, it's hard to pop in to fix it on weekends and evenings if you live far away. Alternatively, you could stay in lab more and never see your family.
We as a society have decided to pay scientists a lot less than similarly trained professionals and consigned scientists to a financially precarious life. We're not as badly off as artists financially**, but the trend is worrisome.
* I lived on West Pearl back when it was inhabited by graduate students and winos. My roommate at the time, a PhD candidate in human geography, said that we were the shock troops of gentrification. She was so, so right.
** Artists do have more freedom to move to cheaper places, but scientists need to work in labs in places like Boulder and Palo Alto. Then there is the two-body problem of finding two science jobs in the same locale when scientists marry one another. This is a severe problem. I read one survey that uncovered that 80% of female PhD physical scientists are married to another physical scientist or an electrical engineer.