In the 1967 film classic “The Graduate,” a businessman offers a single word of career advice to the young character played by Dustin Hoffman: “Plastics.” Today, if a college graduate has an interest in science, the word might be: “Drugs.” The Scientist magazine’s annual salary survey shows a clear leader in earnings: Those working in the drug industry average $162,715 a year, compared with $95,829 among scientists working in the other life sciences. Not far behind those in pharmaceuticals were those working in the biotechnology industry, with an average annual salary of $150,301. Last place went to molecular biologists in academic jobs; their average was $71,050.
The survey analyzes the data in different ways, comparing workers’ earnings in terms of age, specialty, sex and employer (academia vs. industry). And it points out that today’s hot specialty is often tomorrow’s overcrowded field. Take genetics (the study of single genes) vs. genomics (the study of all genes in a genome and their interactions). A couple of decades ago, genetics was the hot field. But genomics workers also have extensive mathematical and computational skills, which puts them in high demand in other disciplines, such as finance. So genomics workers can demand higher salaries, and that’s what they get ($92,143 a year vs. $77,620 for those in genetics).
As any computational scientist can tell you, it’s all in the numbers.
What could be an easier way to stay connected than carrying a smartphone? Wearing clothes infused with flexible, solar-powered electronics, of course.
That’s the vision three South Korean researchers lay out in a paper in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society. In “Wearable Textile Battery Rechargeable by Solar Energy,” they point out that existing wearable gadgets such as Google Glass require frequent recharging with a cord. To “unlink technology from the wall socket,” they came up with a battery made from polyester yarn coated with nickel and carbon, using polyurethane to bind and separate the elements. They made it into a foldable, wearable textile, and they integrated lightweight flexible solar cells for constant daylight recharging.
The journal suggests a couple of uses for the e-fabric: athletic clothes that would monitor vital signs and watchbands that would power smart watches. But in the future “the range of applications would be endless,” researcher Jang Wook Choi said in an e-mail — tents and military uniforms, for instance.