While some scientists are discovering the building blocks of the universe, others can’t find a decent job. Recent data show that even as the White House has trumpeted more education in the sciences, openings in academia have been disappearing steadily since the 1970s, leaving hordes of credentialed nerds with nothing to do. At the same time, shrinking opportunities in the private sector—300,000 positions at American drug companies have disappeared in the past decade—have left biologists and chemists with plenty to mull. Only 38 percent of chemists who graduated with Ph.D.s in 2011 are pulling in a steady paycheck, according to data from the American Chemical Society.
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