Monday, October 14, 2019
The Two-Body Problem, by Josh Pachter
I admit to being a sucker for stories set in higher education. Comes from three-plus decades in the academe mob.
My friend Josh Pachter has offered a nice example. The narrator and his fiance are both marine biologists, hustling toward the completion of their PhDs. And that is what brings up the titular dilemma.
With the job market the way it is, it's tough enough for one let's say marine biologist to find a tenure-track position at an R1 -- which is, for the uninitiated, a top-level university... When there are two of you in the same competitive field, the challenge is exponentially compounded.
How do two bodies, excuse me, two academics find jobs at the same top school? And what happens if they don't?
I very much enjoyed the light and sparkling tone used in this tale to describe the complexities of the higher ed biz.
My only complaint about this story is that Pachter doesn't explain the origin of the "Two Body Problem." It's a physics issue having to do with objects in orbit. This adds another level of academic complexity to the whole shebang.