Two questions to all chemists in all areas worldwide:

1) How would you spend the rest of your life if you suddenly became financially independent for good? Would you still do chemistry? How, where, when?

2) What amount in USD today would be enough to make you absolutely certain that you never ever had to work for money again?

I’ll post my two answers when I get enough action in the comments. Go!

Update: Done!


12 Responses to Two questions

  1. Mr. Fixit says:

    If I hit the lottery this coming weekend, I would keep working as a mid level med chemist in the start up world. the next job, that would be the question. When I have thought about this, I tell myself I would consider financing my own postdoc…

    $15,000,000 would be more than enough to live on the interest and keep up with inflation….

  2. See Arr Oh says:

    I agree with Mr. Fixit – I’d still want to do something with chemistry, although I think I’d want to leave industry and become a teacher, lecturer, or maybe develop educational shows (hello, NOVA!)

    As far as $$$? I could go slightly lower than him, say, $5,000,000 USD. As long as you pay off debt, and invest well (which you’d have time to do if you didn’t work crazy chemistry hours!)

  3. Nicholas says:

    If I were to strike it big – I’d totally keep working. I love what I do – and if I didn’t HAVE to work, there’d certainly be days I wouldn’t (the day before, during, and after my birthday being chief among them).

    I’d take $10,000,000. A good stock portfolio – majorly diversified along with multiple savings accounts should really provide me with enough “walking-around money.”

  4. Chemjobber says:

    Oh, yeah, I’d still do chemistry. I’d have a lot better instrumentation, though.

    I think I could be set with $7,000,000, maybe less.

  5. timm says:

    I am not sure if I’d do more chemistry. I guess I would start my own small farm to be more independant. And for this, I think that $500,000 would be enough, maybe even less. I mean, for 15,000,000 you would have to earn 375,000 in 40 years of work.

  6. Ckellz says:

    I’d certainly still do chemistry, its too much damn fun and a nice challenge. Having that money would make my decision on whether to teach or go into industry quite easy (I’d choose the former). And as for the amount 15 million would be more than enough.

  7. drfreddy says:

    I’m amazed how close several of you are to my answers:

    1) In a Platonic ideal world (with endless money and so on) I would have a lab with 5-10 hoods and 2-4 chemists except myself working there. The lab would be situated in the same building as an academic institution, but not formally be a part of it. There would be no customers, no deadlines and no paperwork beyond jab journals, written by hand. Synthesis would be performed for synthesis’ sake. We would have access to the neccessary equipment: A 400 MHz NMR (IMHO anything above that gives too much information), a reverse phase LCMS, a GCMS and some sort of automated straight phase preparative work-up system. We would have a bad-ass sound system! I would come in and start a reaction when I felt like it, and there would always be an excess of clean glass and reagents. I would not take part in any of the maintenance. Someone would be paid good to work up my reactions. Research-wise, I would probably revisit areas that I for strategic-ish reasons have been forced to abandon over the years. I guess I would try to make new heterocycles. No matter what your research area is as a synthesis chemist, it always seems to boil down to heterocyclic chemistry. At least in my experience. I think I would be in the lab on average 5-10 hours a week. I would share my crazy ideas with my co-workers, listen to theirs, and never force anyone to do anything; I would sit back and trust my gut feeling that if people enjoyed doing chemistry in my lab and being paid well for doing so, interesting results would eventually emerge in some form, regardless of the initial idea.

    2) I think about the magic sum almost on a daily basis. If I got around 100 million Swedish crowns, roughly $15,000,000, I *THINK* I would be able to exhale.

  8. Dmitry B says:

    1. It will be interesting to start independent research.
    2 one billion

  9. drfreddy says:

    Forgot to add a couple of details: I would like to publish like hell, never again file a patent application and preferably have it arranged so all our lab journals were open access for all on the web.

  10. Hap says:

    1) I would probably continue at my job. It would get messier if I got laid off – I might try to finish (restart) grad school in chemistry, try for a pharmacy degree, or try to get a job for the US government doing useful chemistry work (I hope).

    2) I’m kind of at the upper end – at 3%, $5M generates $150G/year, and that (with diversification and nonliquid investments) might be about $15M, but interest is nowhere near 3% now. An alternative might be just to eat principal, in which case over 50 years, you’d get $300K/year eating principal. I would probably feel comfortable with $30M in the bank/investments. Of course, 1) someone said that if you have problems with money, more isn’t the answer (because you can spend whatever you make) and 2) I’d feel better if I knew I could do something useful and take care of my family whatever happened, and not care much about what I have because it won’t really make me feel better if I can’t do anything.

  11. milkshake says:

    Yes, I would continue with pursuit of chemistry, as a private docent at Alberts Ludwigs University of Freiburg.
    Also, I don’t need money to become a man of independent means because I plan to marry into a wealthy family of an industrialist who has three unmarried daughters slightly past their prime.

  12. Paul says:

    I like to see there are some people with the same interest in chemistry as I have. Not very surprising though, as you would expect from people reading chemistry-related blogs in their spare time to really love their job and having chemistry as a key element of their lives.

    No need to go to deep in detail, but my own answers would be very much like what was already written.

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