I can’t help but think the above question. Where’s all the hype about upcoming, innovative physics based technologies? The romance between technology, business and physics is quite a cold one compared to the marriage between technology, business and engineering. Engineers have been pushing and battling their way into tech but physicists are less famous for it yet physicists are arguably just as adept.
Currently studying MSc Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL, I’m exposed to some exciting theories about modern entrepreneurship with the theories mimicking a scientific approach being most enticing. “Learn → Build → Measure” with a hypothesis in mind, eliminate uncertainty whilst making sure that tests are free(ish) of bias – that’s pretty scientific. For something as unpredictable as business, it’s beautiful to see that success is more likely for those that test any assumptions, scrapping any theories that are shown to be obsolete.
Especially as an experimental physicist, I am naturally inclined to do the above. If I have a theory, I want to test it. I dislike conclusions based upon bad data and make an effort to disprove my theories as the truth is more important than feeling like I have discovered something. Ultimately in science, a bad theory will be thrown out and the implications in entrepreneurship are similar: even with a bit of momentum, ignoring or being dishonest about results to testing will eventually be exposed with implications in the regions of rejection from investors and failed ventures. Creating solutions for problems that people do not have.
Physicists know that humankind will never know everything, that there is always something to learn and so, we should endeavour to keep learning. This comfort with humility is a key aspect of potentially brilliant entrepreneurs. For me, it is a crisis that this enormously talented group are not being encouraged to get stuck into solving the world’s problems outside of the (metaphorical if you’re a theorist) laboratory. We may even see a time where physics makes grand advances privately away from academic institutions. If this is a byproduct of the development of useful products then so be it! There is no single answer to the title question but any progress will be a massive positive. With enough support, tomorrow’s physicist will be tomorrow’s best and most innovative entrepreneurs.