HPS Colloquium - Cushing Prize Lecturer - Cyrus Mody. “The Tangible and the Esoteric: US Physics in the 1970s”
Many historians and sociologists of science have noted turning points in the postwar American research enterprise in 1970 and 1980. The former was a low point, a time of funding cutbacks, campus unrest, and poor employment prospects, especially in physics. The latter saw the election of Ronald Reagan, the record-setting Genentech IPO, passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, and other ostensible stimulants to academic entrepreneurialism. So what happened in between? This talk examines episodes at Stanford, Cornell, and University of California Santa Barbara in which physicists dealt with the budgetary and cultural crises of the early 1970s by developing organizational, pedagogical, and lifestyle experiments that later aligned them with 1980s discourse encouraging academic entrepreneurship and university-industry partnership.