• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Softball: Gauchos Split Final Road Games at Hawai'i https://t.co/CpEDdmmhVc
    6 hours 38 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Gauchos are live on @ESPN3 ! WATCH >>> https://t.co/io6ZzYs9Hg https://t.co/BEO8wTxv62
    11 hours 45 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Congrats to Leah Foltz for winning the #UCSB Grad Slam! Now she moves onto the UC-wide competition in SF on May 4th! https://t.co/kVqCtOTWb7
    18 hours 39 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Former @UCSB_Baseball LHP Dom Mazza speaks with his hometown paper after throwing a perfecto this week! https://t.co/GPc3B3qL9g
    18 hours 59 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    Watch pianist #MurrayPerahia's breathtaking and imaginative performance, tonight at 7PM at UCSB Campbell Hall!… https://t.co/M83EeA6Y53
    21 hours 44 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Softball: Hawai'i Tops UCSB 5-1 in Gauchos' Final Road Series Opener https://t.co/ejf0MWM1g0
    1 day 5 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Gauchos Sweep Past UCI 4-0 https://t.co/WFwbxDV8eA
    1 day 7 hours ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    We're happy to see you back, alumni! Don't miss the great events we have this weekend. #AllGauchoReunion… https://t.co/Sbz4iirr7i
    1 day 11 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Women's Tennis: Cal Poly 0, UC Santa Barb. 4 (Final) No.2 UCSB blanks No.7 Cal Poly in Big West Quarterfinal 4-0 https://t.co/m4kdACQFo5
    1 day 11 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSB_Baseball vs. UC Riverside on @ESPN3 is live now! Watch here >>> https://t.co/QJMvNLa0mQ
    1 day 11 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    WWP: Defending Big West Champs Defeated by No. 12 LBSU in Another Overtime Match https://t.co/XIO3RJdo9p
    1 day 11 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Top-Seeded UCSB Set to Host Big West Golf Championship at Sandpiper GC https://t.co/SyXPKB2Ur5
    1 day 13 hours ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    RT @ForestSways: CEMA poster preservation for primary source research. #Chicanohertiage @Marikhasmanyan @UCSBLibrary #sca17 https://t.co/M…
    1 day 15 hours ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    @AmldavisAnn We're glad you're interested in using, please contact (805) 893-3062 or @library.ucsb.edu">special@library.ucsb.edu for m… https://t.co/fwAVOMoWyB
    1 day 15 hours ago
  • UCSB_GradPost twitter avatar
    CPT F-1 Visa workshop for international students on May 11 https://t.co/l6xZEndRVl #UCSB #ucsbgradpost
    1 day 15 hours ago

Outta Sight No More

A new book co-edited by a UCSB scholar examines the eclectic science that emerged from the counterculture
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 09:00
Santa Barbara, CA

patrick mccray-mug.jpg

W. Patrick McCray

W. Patrick McCray

Photo Credit: 

patrickmccray.com

In terms of eras, the 1970s are the banana slicer you bought from a home shopping show after a couple of drinks — vaguely embarrassing and you try not to think about it. The ’70s are the AMC Pacer, mood rings and “Having My Baby” by Paul Anka. They certainly weren’t about good science, at least in the public perception.

A new book co-edited by a UC Santa Barbara scholar, however, takes a fresh look at the science that emerged from the era. “Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation and American Counterculture” (The University of Chicago Press, 2016), co-edited by W. Patrick McCray, a professor of history at UCSB, explores the eclectic work of scientists, freethinkers, engineers and hippies of the 1970s. Their work tends to be overshadowed by the notion that the ’70s were a scientific dead zone, he said.

“I think what surprised us was how many diverse and fascinating things in terms of science and technology happened in the 1970s,” McCray said. “This is important because we’re trying to get away from this idea that the ’70s were a decade where nothing of real importance happened.”

A stereotype of the era, McCray noted, held that the rise of the counterculture was accompanied by the fall of science as hippies and disillusioned youth rejected the “Big Science” of the Cold War. But “Groovy Science,” co-edited with David Kaiser of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells a different story. Its 12 essays plumb an extraordinary range of endeavors, from the materials scientists who revolutionized surfboard production to John Lilly’s attempts to communicate with dolphins, to Timothy Leary’s transhumanism, to Santa Barbara’s entrepreneurial physicists in the Vietnam era.

“Whether it’s in science and technology, or women’s liberation or gay rights or the environmental movement, there was a lot happening in the 1970s,” McCray said. “It was a very traumatic decade at least here in the United States between Watergate, the economy collapsing, the oil shocks in ’73 and ’79. So the people imagining the 1970s as this throw-away plastic decade of disco and DayGlo smiley faces and stuff have missed that story.”

For McCray, who specializes in the history of science, “Groovy Science” presents an opportunity to tell the story of the era before it’s picked over by traditional historians. “We as a community sometimes arrive a little late to the party,” he noted. “Science historians tend to get there a decade or so after a lot of the really creative, original work had been done. And then you inherit this narrative that’s already been shaped by everybody else.

“We were hoping to get to the 1970s before it had been completely congealed in a sense,” McCray continued. “We wanted to really challenge this idea that the 1960s and ’70s were this era of anti-science and anti-technology, and to make the argument that people were opposed to certain kinds of science and technology, but they were opposed to science and technology as this monolithic entity. They had found these creative and really interesting wellings up in different parts of the counterculture.”

Contact Info: 

Jim Logan
(805) 893-3071
jim.logan@ucsb.edu

Topics: