From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 0.02%

I attended the graduation ceremony of a former student of mine. Jared earned his Bachelor's degree in physics from UCLA.  During one of the speeches, the speaker mentioned how few people actually attain the Ph.D. in physics.  He also said many nice things about those who do which swelled my head just a wee bit.

During the past year, there's been a lot of talk of the 1% and the 99% - those with the proverbial gold and those without.  So I began to think about with a doctoral hood and those without.

According to the American Institute of Physics, approximately 1200 students receive their doctoral degree every year since 1960 or so.  Therefore, there are about 60,000 of us  - some in academia, some in industry, some in the financial world, some in places you would never think of finding a physicist - like United States Secretary of Energy.

The U.S. Census estimates that the country's population is now almost 314 million.

Now I pull out my trusty calculator, and divide 60,000 by 314,000,000.

I am in the 0.02% of the country.  

<sarcasm> Don't I feel special? </sarcasm>


  1. I'm sure that if we considered the number of people in this country named Vann we would find that you're in an even smaller group. Not to say that it's a very elite group, per se.

    1. One group requires an accident of birth; the other requires courses in mechanics, electromagnetic field theory, quantum mechanics, and mathematical methods, not too mention solid state theory, nuclear physics, gravitation, nuclear chemistry, nuclear detection methods, and more courses in electromagnetic field theory and quantum mechanics. Then there's that small matter of the dissertation. Elite? Maybe, maybe not, but not many people have done earned a Ph.D. in physics.

  2. I would like to be part of the future .03% one day haha

    1. One day in the not too distant future.