The Old Thesis

I found my old thesis from 1976. It shows the state of IT where I was. Computing was on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 15 and a mainframe from IBM or Amdahl.

Horrible things done horribly expensively:

  • original manuscript was done by me on an ancient Underwood upright with a cloth ribbon,
  • second and third drafts were on an IBM Selectric by a paid typist,
  • mathematical formulae were entered by hand,
  • drawings were done by me by hand with pen and ink,
  • font? What’s a font?
  • computer printouts include output from an ASR TeleType and a CalComp ball-point plotter, and
  • typos were somewhat tolerated because the whole page had to be retyped or erased piece-wise. Same for full-justification. That would have been another pass through the typist…

So, indeed, I did IT in the Dark Ages and do appreciate what we now do routinely with PCs and the web. This thesis was written in 1976 when PCs were still a glint in the eyes of imaginative people. This thesis would have been written in 1/10th the time and for much less cost these days. I spent 4 years on my Master’s programme. These days, students do that in six months, partly due to advances in personal computing, the web, search engines and peripheral devices.

If I had it to do all over again, I could do it all with Debian GNU/Linux and it would be a beautiful sight.

To make you smile or frown, read “A Drift Chamber for Use at Low Energies” by Robert Pogson (7MB – md5=2f77f2afc1ad8e851123513cdd50d32b. You don’t need Acrobat Reader to read it although that will work… GNU/Linux ships with many FLOSS readers. I like xpdf but then I do everything on Debian GNU/Linux.

Here’s one of the figures…

UPDATE Google has read the PDF and OCRed it. It’s pretty ugly, the quality of the work, photocopied and scanned is just too poor. It does allow the thesis to be searched by keyword, however, which is a good thing. I guess I will rescan at higher resolution or create a second edition…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to The Old Thesis

  1. Clarence Moon says:

    My understanding from my PhD friends is that a career in physics is a very tough road to travel. One of them, with a doctorate from CalTech in Astrophysics and numerous post-docs at JPL including some stuff still operating on the moon, counts himself somewhat of a failure at it due to never landing a good professorship at any leading university. He ultimately had to rely on his engineering expertise and became a top science advisor to a primary DoD component, I won’t reveal which.

    Strangely, he is a Linux fan, but I don’t hold that against him.

  2. Chris Weig wrote of my career in physics, “Why haven’t you stayed in this field?”

    After graduating, I worked at the UofM for 6 years as a technician and in Riyadh for 3 years. When I returned to Canada, nuclear physics funding had been slashed and there was a decrease in demand for people with my skills. e.g. UofM had declined from 30 staff to 3 and AECL a major employer was cutting back. I did work on my own as an inventor for a couple of years but had insufficient funds to continue. I changed careers three times since then and have avoided becoming stale by accepting wildly challenging activities. I have continued to put the physics knowledge to use even lately with the renovations to the old homestead.

  3. Chris Weig says:

    Why haven’t you stayed in this field?

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