Too many science PhDs? Not if unis train them for careers outside academia

I once spent three years inserting extremely slender glass electrodes into rat neurones. I was trying, mostly in vain, to understand how neurones’ properties change when they are stimulated, a phenomenon that might underlie certain kinds of memory. In order to minimise vibration and electrical noise, my experiments were conducted under austere conditions: in the middle of the night, on an air table, inside a Faraday cage, and with all non-essential equipment – including lights – turned off. On good nights, if I pushed through until 2 or 3am, I would get a few minutes worth of useful data, but most of the time I crawled into bed with nothing to show for 20 hours of toil.

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