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Physics and Critical Thinking Go Hand in Hand

I am concerned about the editorial "Research Cuts on Campus," June 27. It implies that in the post-cold-war era astronomy and physics should "find homes on [only] some campuses." Eliminating physics because we no longer need anti-communist weapons would be like eliminating English because we no longer need anti-communist propaganda.

Physics is the backbone of the sciences and is widely useful in other disciplines.

For example, you can't train engineers without physicists. It teaches quantitative methods useful in occupations such as medicine, business, and law.

In fact, most physics majors seek employment in such areas.

Furthermore, physics teaches important critical thinking skills useful to everyone.

Politicians might be more accountable if all Americans understood that a million dollars is less than a penny per capita, while a trillion dollars is several thousand dollars each.

The poor performance of America's students in math and science is widely recognized. The skills conferred by a physics degree, or even a single physics class, are invaluable to members of our society.

Instead of eliminating physics departments, let us improve them to better serve our students and communities.

Eric D. Carlson Cambridge, Mass. Associate Professor of Physics Harvard University

A mean slant on the South

The author of the opinion-page article "How the South Switched Sides," June 16, writes that the South's "politics are so narrow and mean spirited." In our society, we condemn racial prejudice, we disdain religious intolerance, we abhor ethnic stereotypes, we decry age discrimination, and we rebel against gender bias.

Therefore, it is surprising that a columnist for the Monitor harbors extreme regional bigotry as evidenced by his statement.

Regional chauvinism is the same sort of myopic intolerance that has kept the embers of hatred glowing in the British Isles, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and so on.

Clarence Lloyd Providence, Ind.

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