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By Nash Black
Is there anyone out there born after 1970 who knows how to use a slide rule? A strange little stick with a sliding center for calculation that allowed Americans to land on the moon before computers were easily accessible to every citizen. The slide rule also gave Albert Einstein insight into some of the secrets of the universe. Can modern students recognize this fairly modern calculation instrument?
If we go back a bit more maybe a few do know how to use an abacus, which is even older. With the advent of ‘new math’ in the 1960s & 1970s the ancient abacus came into use again to explain how a computer operates. Today all you need do is punch the correct app and a calculation is completed for you. Somewhere during those years we skipped the advent of the pocket calculator, but like 8-track tapes it wasn’t around long enough to make an impact.
There is an old saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”
One excellent example is recorded music. Styles and recording instruments have changed from the single wire to 78 rpms, 45 rpms, to 33 1/3 rpms, then move to tapes, CDs and digital recording with each new format needing a new transmission equipment. The current sound type being pushed is Blue Ray which I think in the long run may have the same longevity as the 8-track. Sound purists are rediscovering the pure high performances quality of the long-playing recordings. So that the old becomes new again.
Memories are my stock -in-trade. I enjoy them, write about them, and share them. I’ve also had hands on experience with cutting wood for heat, cooking on a wood stove, finding the path down the hill in the dark when nature calls, and many others bits of yesterday. I have no desire to go back. I love my microwave and indoor plumbing. I also enjoy getting my licks in when someone discovers some old things still work and deliver a good job for which they were designed.
I suspect it might behoove us to take a hard look at where we want our great-grandchildren to be in the future which we will not share. Balance it with where we are now – decide just what is valuable and what are no more that gem-quacks or bumps in the road. There is one thing for sure we cannot go back to where we were.