Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 5, 1999

Anticipating Y2K: What the experts say

Lots of ideas are circulating about what will happen when the clock passes midnight next Dec. 31. Inside sought out a few opinions among ISU faculty and staff. Here's what they think:

"U.S. banks and Wall Street started early and are in good shape; other big corporations are getting there. But I wouldn't want a company in Russia or China owing me money in January."
Arnie Cowan, associate professor of finance

"Things don't always go as we plan! Helping families find reliable information about Y2K and use their strengths in problem-solving eases the stress of change, exaggeration and vulnerability."
Colleen Jolly, extension program specialist, human development and family studies

"Most personal computers will need only minor adjustments and patches to make them compliant with Y2K standards. If the electricity is on and the Internet works normally on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, it will be business as usual for most personal computer users."
Lance Wilhelm, technology support specialist, College of Education

"Y2K does not pose a significant threat to the security of computers because computer security systems are relatively recent developments that have been built with Y2K in mind."
Doug Jacobson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering

"The point to many Americans is that the truth may be out there, but since it is unknown, it is not predictive. Since we can't predict it, we cannot control it and that makes it quite scary."
Alan Marcus, professor of history and director, Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science

"Astronomers have a broader view of the problem, and we solved it a long time ago. We care about things that cross millennial (and century) boundaries all the time, and to get around the problem we use the Julian date, which is the time in days since 4004 BC. So, Jan. 1, 2000, will be JD 2451545. No big deal."
Steven Kawaler, professor of physics and astronomy

"We've prepared for snow storms, we've prepared for floods You hope these things don't happen, but you know they sometimes do. We may not know exactly what will happen Jan. 1, 2000, but we're preparing for it to minimize the impact it might have."
Peter Siegel, director, Academic Information Technology

"Common-sense food storage will be the best defense against possible Y2K food-related issues. For example, if you are concerned you may lose electricity on Jan. 1, 2000, then stock your freezers below normal levels or purchase a generator that could provide supplemental, temporary power to keep food safe."
Connie Betterley, extension nutrition specialist, family and consumer sciences

"Iowa is in the best shape to tackle this problem because the small manufacturing and agricultural extension services are linked and working with the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) on it."
Willem Bakker, director, Iowa Manufacturing Technology Center

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