Particle Physicist Brian Cox seems to think that Macs are the end all beat all for Physicists. In a long and gushing article on Apple's website he goes on to explain why he has chosen this and why he feels others in the Particle Physics world use the Fruity Toy too.
Cox declaims "because they're essentially UNIX" Physicists that have been using UNIX in the past love the ability to use a terminal shell and type in UNIX commands. He also declares that Macs can still natively compile FORTRAN and other legacy code without the same issues that Windows has.
What I find the most interesting is that he is willing to pay significantly more for his "UNIX" based Mac than he would getting a standard PC and running Linux. I wonder if Mr. Cox is aware that Linux is also UNIX based or that there are a large number of compilers for FORTRAN for Windows. If Physics like to keep things the same (as Mr. Cox suggests) that list should have them Windows happy as they are just upgraded versions of the compilers they have been using for 20 years.
Apple has the rest here.
"When you look around a physics conference now, you see more Macs than anything else," says Cox. "I think that's because they're essentially UNIX, and that makes it very easy for everybody who's used UNIX in particle physics for the past 20 or 30 years. There's a huge code base. We're still using programs written in Fortran quite a lot-programs that were written in the '70s and '80s-and they compile directly on the Mac. It's very easy to do, as opposed to Windows, where it's just a pain to compile all the old legacy programs."
Part of the appeal is the level of control available through Mac OS X, he explains. "When you grow up as a physicist, certainly a particle physicist, you've grown up with terminals. And on a Mac, you can go in and type UNIX commands in a terminal window. It sounds really geeky, but physicists like that power. So I can't overestimate or overemphasize the usefulness of the Mac being a UNIX-based system.".