Professor Albert P Linnell

The contrast in the research environment between 1969 and 2008 is striking.

In 1969 my own research was in the study of eclipsing binary stars and in the application of computer techniques to the analysis of their light curves. The available computers were in large central buildings, with input via punched cards. Typically, a computer run was input, say, in late afternoon and you returned the next morning for the output. Today I do input/output on my PC in a home office.

My present work is in the area of Cataclysmic Variable stars, and the physical complexity of the systems under study is far greater than the 1969 subjects.

A second immense change is in "library research".In 1969 the necessary reference material was in departmental libraries and, for efficient work, an office in a department area was essential. Today, current and back issues of all important research publications are available "on line" so efficient work in a home office is possible.

It happens that 1969 was some 19 years after my first publication as a graduate student at Harvard. The title of that paper was "UX Ursae Majoris" and it appeared in Sky and Telescope. It was the discovery paper of systems now called Cataclysmic Variables. In 2008 I published another paper on the same system (2008, ApJ, 688, 568).