Friday, August 29, 2008

Bell Labs' fundamental physics research: RIP

Bell Laboratories decided to close their fundamental physics research.
Google News
That includes basic science, material physics, and semiconductor research. Because of short- and medium-term financial reasons, they will focus on networking, high-speed electronics, wireless technologies, nanotechnology, and software.

The discoveries made at Bell Laboratories, the research organization of Alcatel-Lucent, have shown the amazing creative power of the American commercial sector. Their achievements have led to six physics Nobel prizes, for
  1. demonstrating the wave nature of matter (Davisson 1937)
  2. transistors (Bardeen, Brattain, Shockley 1956)
  3. electronic structure of glasses and magnets (Andersson 1977)
  4. cosmic microwave background (Penzias, Wilson 1978)
  5. laser-based cooling and trapping of atoms (Chu 1997)
  6. fractional quantum Hall effect (Stormer, Laughlin, Tsui 1998)

Wow. Besides these rather fundamental breakthroughs, the Bell Labs have developed the radio astronomy, information theory, UNIX operating system, C and C++ programming languages, synchronous sound-motion picture system, long-distance transmission of TV signal, scrambled speech transmission system, photovoltaic cells, complex calculators, electronic music, WLAN, and dozens of other well-known things.

Century 21 calling: a 1962 Bell Labs promo film

It's sad that this powerful physics think tank will be gone. RIP.

1 comment:

  1. "The are no problems, only opportunities."

    Favorite quote of one my professors that retired from Bell Labs.