Monday, 7 February 2011

America, Britain

From Faster Than the Speed of Light (2003) by João Magueijo:
Regrettably, people are often most proud of their most appalling attributes, and indeed many American scientists appear to be more appreciative of bandwagons than of their Feynman legacy. I once met a girl in New York who was thrilled to find out I was a physicist; but she became terminally disappointed upon hearing that I lived in England and harbored no ambitions to move to the United States. She simply couldn’t understand that. When I asked why, she tried to reply with an example, but she couldn’t remember the name of the physicist in point. She asked me, “Who was the physicist who was better than Einstein, but never came to the U.S. so he never made it?”
To this day I have no idea who this mythical character might be.
Britain has a unique ability to let its talent go. People like to say that it’s because its academic institutions cannot financially compete with the United States, but I find that a poor excuse. In fact the British “brain drain” is totally self-inflicted, the product of a culture in which accountants, lawyers, consultants, politicians, and financial morons of all varieties are prized well above teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. It’s considered bad taste in Britain to do anything useful these days.
Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation