Thursday, September 4, 2008

super brains

I've started reading this book called "The Chip" which talks about the history and development of integrated circuits being made on monolithic pieces of semiconductor, the huge history-altering invention that allows me to have this computer sitting on my lap right now. My advisor recommended this book (in fact he bought 8 copies for the lab) and I finally got around to starting it. It's amazing! It goes back and talks about all the people who discovered groundbreaking scientific properties (like the existence of the electron), and the people who used them to make hugely important inventions (like the transistor). I love that it talks about the lives and research philosophies of the various scientists and engineers. Like how J.J. Thompson (who discovered the electron) liked to sit around at his desk and just work out math equations all day long. Or how Niels Bohr (of the Bohr Model of the atom) spoke 4 languages and was an all-star soccer player and generally nice guy. Or how William Shockley (co-inventor of the transistor) thought in the late 1960s that black people were genetically inferior to white people, and therefore should be offered tax breaks for being voluntarily sterilized (what!), and he tried to run for president in 1982. Anyway, other than those things, it's also incredible to read about the various scientific philosophies of these historic inventors, and to see how they came upon these great ideas that have changed our lives and our way of life. It makes me wonder what MY research philosophy is, and what is my method for solving problems... To be determined...

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