A Question About Tenure...

I have a question about the tenure system. It is generally held that the creative period of a physicist's career ends at a very young age (Alan Lightman, for example, has mentioned the age of 35 as a point where he in particular felt "past his prime"). Yet most physicists do not get tenure until their mid-thirties, at least.

Why, then, do we have a tenure system which supports the creative work of people whose period of creativity has ended? Wouldn't it be better to put our resources into supporting the research of more young physicists, who are in the prime of their careers, and cannot get academic jobs in the current economic climate?

Brett Bochner
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Some Style Points for Writing

I have some additional specific points to add to the article, "Some Simple Rules for Writing (APS News, June 1998), since Barbara Levi covered the generalities. Please publish a retraction of (1) split infinitives to better see, to consistently follow; (2) implied split infinitives to...drastically rephrase, to...completely drop; (3) awhile; (4) number mismatches we...emulate the style of our favorite author, each of us has to hone our own understanding. Dr. Levi's article was good on the literary aspects. APS has lots of guidelines on the technical aspects. Unfortunately all warnings against student mistakes have disappeared from grammar school.

Fred Ordway
Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Levi replies:

It was bound to happen! In my preaching about "Some Simple Rules of Writing," I have committed a few sins. I readily confess to transgressions 3 and 4 on Ordways list, but I have to defend some of my split infinitives (items 1 and 2). I cite The Elements of Style, which states (on page 78) that some infinitives improve on being split. A good guideline, I feel, is to split an infinitive if doing so results in a more felicitous voice or a clearer meaning. Accordingly, in two of the cases Ordway spotted (item 1), I would have done better not to have allowed the split.

I thank Mr. Ordway for his vigilence. I'm glad to know there are people like him who really care about the proper use of grammar


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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin

August/September 1998 (Volume 7, Number 8)

Table of Contents

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Articles in this Issue
Physical Review Online Archive
APS Views
Plenary Speakers Selected for APS Centennial
Letters to the Editor
Inside the Beltway
The Back Page
1998 Fall Meeting Madness
APS Congressional Fellowship Awarded
APS Sponsors Mass Media Fellows
Coulomb Interactions, "Transistor-less Computing" Highlight 1998 DAMOP Meeting
A Century of Physics
100 Years: The International Dimension
Zero Gravity
DAMOP Thesis Award
Outstanding Undergraduate AMO Researchers
Commission on Women in Science
APS Statement on Federal R&D Presented to Senate Committee
APS Task Force Suggests "Physics Today" Changes
Acrivos Dissertation Award Established