The bash which is Physics C is to be further complicated now by the introduction of six weeks on How to Detect Enemy Airplanes by Radio. Physics C is the unfortunate course which tries to adapt itself to the interests of pre-medical and distribution students and still please the mathematicians and future engineers in its midst, the course which tries to be advanced enough to pre-suppose prep school physics and still be simple enough not to require Math A. Now Defense is taking its toll. The scope of the course will be compressed this year into four-fifths of its former length, and the time gained will be devoted to electronics--enough to tease, but not enough to make a radio operator.
The dangerous shortage of radio operators which America would have to face upon entry into the war is the reason for the change. Britain is still frantically trying to fill her signal corps; biologists, M.D.'s all who are suspected of having ever learned the elements of electronics are being made into radio men, and even American amateurs have been asked to volunteer. This situation made an impression on President Conant, in England, who asked the Physics Department if at least one introductory course could teach enough electronics to case the pain when war comes. Physics C was elected. This fall enough streamlined mechanics and electricity will be crammed into the first seven weeks to permit an immediate start on radio in the eighth week. The instructors have not yet decided where the course will be at midyears, but they intend to fill all medical school and general requirements by June and still impart to their 250 charges a theoretical knowledge equal to that of the average amateur operator.
The course which began last year with Archimedes' Principle and this year with a smiling television image of the Jefferson Librarian does not pretend that its students will not rake leaves and pick up papers for $21 per month like their classmates. It merely wants to give a brief introduction to the course which men who took Physics C in any year must eventually take if they wish to become radio men.
It would be better to continue an unadulterated course in college physics, and to plan for war with a course in radio and electronics solid enough to turn out qualified men.