Thursday, April 30, 2009

Postgraduate physics and the web

At the end of my previous post I implied that while computers and the web can be useful in learning basic physics, they're not essential. After all, the great physicists of history did very well with out them. This is all true as far as it goes, but it leaves out an important part of the picture. While classical physics is largely accessible to any careful observer with a good grounding in math, modern physics is pretty much impossible without heavy machinery.

You may or may not need billions of dollars worth of equipment to produce the results you're after, but the odds are very good you'll need a computer to sort them out. And since your collaborators might well be at other facilities far away, you'll probably want a good email connection. In fact, these days, there's all kinds of information out there, scattered all over the place. Maybe one of the major facilities should come up with a way of pulling it all together and making it accessible to the world.

Oh wait. They did.

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