UCSB Historian's New Book Shines Spotlight On The "Groovy Science" Of The 1970s

Oct 3, 2016

The 70s were disco music, giant hairdo, and flashy clothes. On the serious side, there was the Vietnam War, and the Arab oil embargo, which led to huge gas shortages and long lines at American gas stations.

But, when many people think about the 70s, they don’t necessarily think of it as a time of scientific, or technological innovation. U-C Santa Barbara History Professor Patrick McCray many of those perceptions of the 70’s are wrong. 

He, and fellow science historian David Kaiser of the Michigan Institute of Technology have edited a new book about the subject, called “Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture.

The historian gives an example of one of the great innovations of the 1970s. He says that’s when we first started to see the development of personal computers. At the time, when people thought of computers, they were giant system which filled rooms.

The idea for the book goes back five years, when a workshop on what came out of science and technology in the 1970s was held at Princeton. McCray and Kaiser decided the subjected deserved a book, nothing that unlike the 1950s and 1960s, the story of the 70s is still in essence being written.

The book is made up of dozen essays, looking at different developments from the era. The UCSB professor says the hope is the book will give people a better perspective of the scientific and technological advances of the 1970s.

“Groovy Science” has attracted a lot of attention in the scientific world, getting the rare and unusual honor of being reviewed by both “Science” and “Nature” magazines, because it delves into both worlds.