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The Sciences

Focus

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollMay 9, 2007 9:09 PM

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A true story. I'm sitting on the graduate admissions committee for the physics department at a major research university. Across the table, fellow committee member Prof. A is perusing the file of an applicant who is on the bubble. Prof. A turns to Prof. B next to him and says, "Did you see this one? The student has a Masters degree in Divinity." Now, you know me. Not really the Divinity-School type. But still, I'm thinking, that's interesting. Shows a certain intellectual curiosity to study religion and then move on to physics. There's some successful tradition there. But Prof. A shakes his head slowly. "I would really worry about someone like this, that they weren't devoted enough to doing physics." Prof. B nods sagely in assent. "Yes, you have to be concerned that they just don't have the focus to succeed." The student didn't get in.

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