It’s nearly time for classes to resume, which means it’s time for a zillion stories about Beloit College’s annual Kids These Days List, listing off a bunch of things that this year’s entering college class, who were mostly born in 1992, have always taken for granted. A sample:
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”
4. Al Gore has always been animated.
5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.
Of course, what’s missing from this list is what’s usually missing from lists composed by academics: Science. It occurs to me that it ought to be possible to construct a list of important scientific discoveries from 1992 or thereabouts that the entering class of 2014 has always taken for granted. Possible items include:
- We have always known about anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (COBE’s first results were published in 1992)
- Bose-Einstein Condensation of dilute atomic vapors has always been possible (first observed in 1995, when the class of 2014 was three)
- We have always known about carbon nanotubes (discovered 1991, synthesized in bulk in 1992)
Putting an arbitrary limits of -1/+4 years (so we’re talking about things that happened before the class of 2014 was of school age) on this, I’m sure we could come up with a good list of cool science things that this new generation of college students take for granted, but that their older siblings might remember as news. So, what do you think are the big science and technology developments between 1991 and 1996 that kids these days have no first-hand knowledge of?