Today, change catches up with us -- from within.
The University of Houston's College of Engineering
presents this series about the machines that make
our civilization run, and the people whose
ingenuity created them.
It's a lovely evening in
Berkeley, California. These were my streets when I
studied here in the late '50s. The air's cool and
refreshing. Delicate baroque strings play over the
Here's the apartment where my wife and I first
lived. The paint's peeling, but it's still there.
There's the old beer garden and the movie theater.
The night we saw Marlon Brando's motorcycle movie
here, forty Hell's Angels showed up in heavy metal
and tattoos! It was scary.
The Campanile bell tower looks the same. But when I
was here, a smart student couldn't face the
humiliation of a B grade. He climbed the tower and
jumped. You don't notice it from the ground, but
the gallery's glassed in now.
The machinery in my old lab -- those engines and
process towers -- they also have the same outward
texture. You have to lift the lid to see change.
Inside are electronics and computer links no one
could've imagined in the '50s.
The real changes are interior ones. The superficial
view would disappoint a visitor from yesterday.
And I am a visitor from yesterday. My nostalgia
begins to cave in among the shady eucalyptus trees.
This scene speaks of quiet hours reading,
reflecting, and undergoing formative change.
I worked very hard here. I learned a lot. But the
enormous changes we face today were only straws in
the wind back then. The '50s pale beside the
revolution exploding around us.
Our ordinary lives in Houston or Minneapolis or
Oklahoma City bubble with ferment and change. We're
in the middle of a quiet -- but huge -- revolution.
Biologists are beginning to see that cooperation is
as important as Darwinian competition. Think how
life as we know it will turn upside down as we put
that idea to work! Information experts say the
electronic media are redefining human relations.
Computers are mirroring, reinforcing, and
ultimately changing the texture of human thought.
Past technologies all left larger tracks in the
world outside. Things like the plow and the engine
expanded the reach of our bodies into the world.
This time technological change mirrors our minds.
This time, we ourselves are being transformed --
the way we work, the way we know each other.
This is a lovely bucolic scene. But real youth --
real change -- has caught up with me late in life.
You and I live in days that 25th-century historians
will wish they could've known. They will envy us
for the mutations we underwent -- back in the
I'm John Lienhard, at the University of Houston,
where we're interested in the way inventive minds