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What was it like to be a physicist/physics student in X?

  1. Jan 2, 2013 #1
    Where X is any of the World Wars, the Cold War, dot-com boom, or any period of history you know of, or have experience with.

    Whether this was in academia, industry, or defense.

    (please move the thread if it's in the wrong section; was debating between career guidance, general discussion, and here)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2013 #2
    Interesting question, I'll you what it was like Sonny, we had to walk to work everyday, uphill, BOTH ways. Just kidding. I'm actually an X generationer, product of the 80's, does that count? I think the cold war was still on then.

    In any case, just from accumulated knowledge and anecdotal stories I've heard, physics has always been an arduous, yet rewarding journey for those who dare to tread. The information revolution hasn't changed that, it hasn't made physics any harder or any easier. As Walter Freeman, the famous neurophysiologist once said, "the problem isn't information overload, there's always been too much information."

    I'll tell you the single-most interesting difference today from the "hardcore" days of the 40's through the the early 70's was the use of slide-rules. The hand-held calculator wasn't around until the mid 70's. We went to the moon using slide-rules. Physicists and especially engineers also relied HEAVILY on tables, tables of integrals, hyperbolic functions, etc, that took up volumes of books. In fact, it was a big deal when they came out with a slide rule sometime in the 60's I think that could be used to calculate hyperbolic functions. They still have slide-rule societies and journals today run by the engineers of that day who still have a fond nostalgia for those times.
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