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June 03, 2012


Mike Draney

Yes, my students do give me hope, their projects are much more sophisticated than what I we were capable of doing just 20 years ago. The amount of data they handle is just exponentially greater than we could do. There are trade-offs, of course...my students do not read nearly as much science as I did, and they have not memorized as much stuff as I did, either. It's a different world, that's for sure! All in all, I do not envy them.

Eileen Obser

Catching up on my e-mail.

I worked for Union Carbide Corporation in 1960-61 as a secretary in the central corporate library. The computer then took up a good part of the third (?) floor of our building on Park Avenue. I couldn't imagine what the technicians did in that enormous space, with all that equipment.
My first home computer, in the 1980s, cost about $2,500. The current one cost approx. $800. Frankly, there are times when I miss my electric typewriter. Less distractions, interruptions, no spamming or phishing, just the pure joy of writing and editing. The young scientists would surely disagree with me and dismiss me as an old fogey.
Thanks for this blog, Dac.

Sally Carpenter

I was in college when computers came out. I saw someone put a floppy disk in an Apple II and thought, why not just use a typewriter? I remember when copy machines needed 15 minutes to warm up,fax machines used that slick paper and computer printers needed special paper with the holes along the edges. I was watching the movie "Apollo 13" and the guys in the control room used slide rules to do a math problem! But I think computers have made us dumber. Instead of figuring things out, people ask their smartphone what to do.
Sally Carpenter

Dac Crossley Jr.

Our computer person in Ecology was Thelma. She, too, hoarded everything. When she passed last year, we were able to discard a bunch of boxes. Do you remember when you bought a computer or drive or something and the instructions said, retain the carton in case you need to return. Thelma kept all, and that includes programs on punch cards - even though we no longer had a reader.


irene black

Great post. I still hear from former students who have passed me in the world of technolog. First taught computer usage on Apples with 48K of memory. Whee how things have change?
My real hope is that these bright young people do not get caught up in environmental politics. That one is tough because it is so difficult to get funding for pure research, which may or may not expand current theories.
I remember my dad telling me the day I graduate from college, "You'll spend the rest of your life learning that what you've learned wasn't true in the first place."


I agree with all your commentors.

I tend to listen to all ages of people. Often I avoid older people because too many have RETIRED THEIR BRAINS and LEARNING long ago.

In 1971, while working as a graphics and signange designer for a very large architectural firm I took a beginning class in Fortran. I was laid off before the class was finished and never got to use any of the little I learned then.

My father had been working on mainframe computers for years. We had those punch cards in our house almost all the time. He even gave me some to drawn on the blank areas.

first computer I touched was an Epsen portable (size of a medium suitcase and heavy) in 1985.

In 1986 Merry won a PCjr in a P&G drawing and I was on my way.

My research was done on the giant main computer at the research computer center in the basement of Boyd Hall. I still have the cards and the tape reel they produced for me as a doctoral student.

I am a sentimental HOARDER.

Patricia Gligor

A very positive post, Dac. It's interesting because, just yesterday, I was talking with a friend and I told him how I learn so much from other people. I always expected to learn things from those older than me because I figured they'd been around longer. The wonderful part is that I learn just as much from people younger than me.


Dac thank you for delivering such a wonderful feedback to our future and the future of our planet. There are so many young people who do care, but usually we hear all the negative. I listen to my 10, 8 and 6 year old grand kids and even at their age they talk about science and saving our planet even though they may not know the correct terminology, but they care. This does give us optimistic hope for the world.

Celia Yeary

Dac--you made me hopeful, too! Just by talking about these young people. I am sort of an advocate for young people. How many times a day do you hear, "I don't know what's going to happen to our world--these young people today don't care and don't know enough.
I can assure you, they do, and we can have faith in them.
In my opinion, our problems arise more from the older hangers-on who should quit or retire and step aside.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Bill Stroud

There are young men and women who feel as driven as we felt, whose thirst to know more is as unquenchable as ours was. Your field was science. Mine was aviation. Doesn't matter. The fire still burns in the hearts of our young, of those who follow in our footsteps and yearn to go a few steps further. Thank goodness. The nation and the world would be lost without them.

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