Apparently hunting for the "God particle" is not nearly as exciting or lucrative as doing "God's work" for Goldman Sachs.
Goldman has recently hired a physicist named Ryan Buckingham away from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (a/k/a CERN) in Switzerland, reports Sarah Butcher of the UK Web site eFinancialCareers.
The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest particle accelerator, known for recently finding evidence of the Higgs boson, also known as the "God particle" because it gives subatomic particles their mass, or something like that. (I'm not strong with the maths!)
Banks have a long, long history of hiring scientists, including particle physicists, to help build the quantitative models they use to
blow up the world make money. But it is somewhat noteworthy that banks are drawing people away from what is arguably the pulsing, hot center of the physics universe at CERN. Butcher notes that the path from CERN to finance has in fact become well-trafficked lately, because "working on the Large Hadron Collider isn’t as exciting as you might think" and at times is "quite boring," according to one anonymous banker who made the switch.
I'm going to go ahead and guess that it does not pay quite as well, either, which may be another consideration. Working at the collider is also described by the anonymous banker as "very insular and incredibly competitive" -- which, as Butcher notes, is "Not like banking at all then."
Goldman Sachs did not respond to a request for comment.
The brain drain from science to Wall Street has been a depressing feature of the past few decades and is arguably the reason we do not yet have those flying cars we were promised. There was reason to hope that the financial crisis would stop the flow, but if bleeding-edge particle accelerators can't keep scientists interested, then I don't know.
Anyway, as is typically the case with Butcher's stories, the whole story is worth a read.