To the Editor of the Forum on Education newsletter:
It has always surprised me that so many of my physics colleagues really
do retire from their profession at retirement age. It's so much fun
to learn, teach, and do physics! Why would anybody want to stop doing
it? However, I wasn't sure that I would still feel this way when I
myself actually retired.
Well, retirement time came two years ago, and I can report that physics
is in fact more fun than ever. When people ask me how I like retirement,
my reply is that I'm having a great time and working harder than ever,
it's just that nobody pays me for it. But that is why it's more fun,
and more work, now: Since I needn't attend faculty meetings or teach
heavy loads, I am free to learn, teach, and do the physics that seems
most useful and interesting to me. It's better than a permanent sabbatical.
The point of all this is to invite others, as they approach retirement,
to stay active. You have spent a lifetime building, with considerable
help from your friends and your country, your knowledge and experience.
Don't give it up now! Your profession and your country need your help.
Write that article, that textbook, those letters to editors, that you
have thought about but haven't had time for. Spread your knowledge
by giving talks to local civic organizations, religious groups, and
schools. Keep feeding that knowledge--for example by following new
developments in the current mind-boggling "golden age of cosmology." Reach
out to local public school science teachers, by involving yourself
with the APS or AAPT outreach programs. Talk about physics and related
topics on local radio and television programs. Get involved in local,
state, or national politics on behalf of science and science education.
Bring your knowledge and experience directly to the public by running
for political office. The APS and AAPT help form the lifeblood of our
profession. Help them to prosper by volunteering for one or more of
their various committees, by organizing sessions at meetings, by contributing
to their publications, etc.
The list of possibilities goes on and on. There are enough useful
and enjoyable professional activities out there to keep all of us occupied
for more than our lifetimes. So when you retire from your "job," please
don't retire from physics.
Professor Emeritus of Physics
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701