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  1. #1
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    Default Career: Independent Scientist.

    I was thinking about maybe carving out a career as an "independent scientist". I'd buy some land, build a small scientific lab, and build a house. I'd try to advance the sciences in directions I think are necessary..and will generate a revenue stream by either taking on small scientific/technological projects for other companies, writing and reviewing text books, publishing for scientific journals, speaking at conferences and doing whatever else I can to make support myself (and family).

    I might also have a "financial sector"..where I'd do investment banking or trades or something (strictly to provide monetary resources for the lab).

    I don't have a Ph.D in anything scientific though..but in this day and age..I'm not sure how necessary it is that I have one. I'm guessing if I am successful the scientific community won't care...because at the end of the day good science is good science...be it from a 65 year old physicist...or a 2 year old toddler.

    I imagine a community of independent scientist online could be started (there probably already exists one..), and we could help each other with whatever we needed done...that way I don't have to have all the expensive equipment...I could buy something that they could use..and they could buy something I could use etc etc

    I could go to school and get a Ph.D in something scientific as a sort of back up...but what I would like to concentrate on isn't really a standard academic field and I'm having a lot of trouble finding programs that would give me the independence to do what I would actually like to do...without stipulations that I find are unnecessary (and tedious, I'm lazy..). Plus..I'd have to take a whole bunch of classes that are only tangentially related to what I want to do...because "that's how it works"...

    Assuming I could get enough capital to start this up (I have no idea how much would be needed...land, house, lab, extraneous costs)..is a career as an "independent scientist" possible?

    Because, quite honestly, it seems to me to be one of the few things I wouldn't mind doing everyday...

  2. #2
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    I think it could be possible, but it would take time.

    What you'd have to do is the same thing most small businesses have to do at first -- Keep a day job, and start it slowly as funding comes in for it. Keeping your day job/career while pouring all of the money earned from the small business into itself keeps you alive and not struggling, and it also keeps you from relying on that small business money until it has grown to something more stable. People make those mistakes a lot, and then it fails as a result.

    The only problem would be you'd have considerably less free time.. So if that's an issue for you it'd be something to consider. I think the land thing would be a great idea if you planned on living on it as well. I'm looking at buying and living on land myself, but I plan on buying a tiny house just big enough to suit my needs while I build what I want on the land in pieces as funding comes in. So it is possible.. It's a matter of what you're willing to put into it, and how dedicated you are to it.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Tiger Owl's Avatar
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    Well, it is possible but you would have to start with "Independently Wealthy" and work from there. Also, if you were successful at the side jobs you listed no one would consider you an independent scientist. This day and age "scientists" are about as bad as politicians when it comes to pandering to the paychecks. You have to follow the trail of money and then triple check the statistics, experiment design, and conclusions in order to weed out the good, empirical science from the bought and paid for drivel.
    Scientific equipment is prohibitively expensive and the scientific community is a strange blend of a meritocracy and a good-ol-boy system. Not only do you have to earn the degrees and get published in order to be taken seriously you also have to have connections or you will never get a product through the FDA or get speaking engagements to discuss your findings with those who would actually know what the heck you are talking about. It is certainly worse now than 100 years ago but even then many researchers with great discoveries were only given credit posthumously (if at all).
    I love science and research but it is tough. Good luck.
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  4. #4
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthtrekker1775 View Post
    Well, it is possible but you would have to start with "Independently Wealthy" and work from there.
    I would agree with this. The whole idea strikes me as completely and utterly impractical.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by xisnotx View Post
    I was thinking about maybe carving out a career as an "independent scientist". I'd buy some land, build a small scientific lab, and build a house. I'd try to advance the sciences in directions I think are necessary..and will generate a revenue stream by either taking on small scientific/technological projects for other companies, writing and reviewing text books, publishing for scientific journals, speaking at conferences and doing whatever else I can to make support myself (and family).

    I might also have a "financial sector"..where I'd do investment banking or trades or something (strictly to provide monetary resources for the lab).

    I don't have a Ph.D in anything scientific though..but in this day and age..I'm not sure how necessary it is that I have one. I'm guessing if I am successful the scientific community won't care...because at the end of the day good science is good science...be it from a 65 year old physicist...or a 2 year old toddler.

    I imagine a community of independent scientist online could be started (there probably already exists one..), and we could help each other with whatever we needed done...that way I don't have to have all the expensive equipment...I could buy something that they could use..and they could buy something I could use etc etc

    I could go to school and get a Ph.D in something scientific as a sort of back up...but what I would like to concentrate on isn't really a standard academic field and I'm having a lot of trouble finding programs that would give me the independence to do what I would actually like to do...without stipulations that I find are unnecessary (and tedious, I'm lazy..). Plus..I'd have to take a whole bunch of classes that are only tangentially related to what I want to do...because "that's how it works"...

    Assuming I could get enough capital to start this up (I have no idea how much would be needed...land, house, lab, extraneous costs)..is a career as an "independent scientist" possible?

    Because, quite honestly, it seems to me to be one of the few things I wouldn't mind doing everyday...
    Is this for real?

    You actually think someone would give you capital for this?

    You actually think someone would hire you as their investment banker?

    First thing I'd recommend: put down the bong...

  6. #6
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    I would agree with this. The whole idea strikes me as completely and utterly impractical.
    But it's awesome though. Impractical as it is. There are worse things to throw one's life away at. Like being a crackwhore.

    Seriously though, the only person off the top of my head like this is an amateur (and somewhat notable) paleontologist. I forgot her name. But she's more of an explorer/doing field work. And there's a whole network of professional researchers she works with. With a little luck, and a lot of passion, you could carve a niche like that. Otherwise, you're screwed without a PhD. And possibly WITH a PhD too!

  7. #7
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    I have been a practicing scientist for > 15 years now, and I know of only one person who is working in anywhere near the situation desired by the OP. He has his PhD in EE; extensive experience in industry and academia; which means lots of contacts with possible funding. A convolution of unusual circumstances several years ago led him to set up a lab in his house and essentially freelance, write, and consult for various businesses, It helps that his wife has a "real" job with good salary, health benefits, etc.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I've said it before, but I hate modern life. Something the OP hasn't quite faced apparently.

    Too much paperwork and cockblocking. Wouldn't it have been nice if we could all revert back 200-300 years and just be a bunch of self-educated chumps who get to discover everything for the first time?

  9. #9
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    But it's awesome though. Impractical as it is. There are worse things to throw one's life away at. Like being a crackwhore.
    For some reason, the idea reminds me of this person.



    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I have been a practicing scientist for > 15 years now, and I know of only one person who is working in anywhere near the situation desired by the OP. He has his PhD in EE; extensive experience in industry and academia; which means lots of contacts with possible funding. A convolution of unusual circumstances several years ago led him to set up a lab in his house and essentially freelance, write, and consult for various businesses, It helps that his wife has a "real" job with good salary, health benefits, etc.
    That seems reasonable.

    Independent scientist with no degree, no inheritance and no other job = homeless person in training.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    For some reason, the idea reminds me of this person.
    I don't even know what he researched? Wasn't he just a disgruntled mathematician?

    I get your point though. Neckbeard. Cabin in Montana. Poverty.

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