Friday, August 29, 2008

RIP Bell Labs Physics Research Lab

Like so many people, I was saddened and shocked to read on that Bell Labs is shuttering its fundamental physics research lab. As a little kid, I learned the name "Shockley" before I'd heard of Abe Lincoln. (This is what happens when you're raised by an IBM Fellow.) It's just weird to think that the place that yielded the transistor and six Nobel prize-winning innovations could roll over and die. Yet, for all the uproar over it, I wonder if anyone has considered that perhaps it's time to pass the torch. Maybe this country needs to become a follower in the global race for innovation, instead of the leader as it once was. Patriotism aside, it seems to me that it's too late to bemoan the fact that the U.S. has fallen behind. Take our automobile industry. Other than the strange and elitist Tesla Motors, when was the last time we heard that anyone from our shores had made a leap forward in that arena? So there you go. And if you're not quite ready to dry your eyes, check out this multimedia presentation, also on Wired.