WHEN STEPHANIE LOUISE KWOLEK RECEIVED HER B.S., WITH a major in chemistry, from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1946, she didn’t have enough money to pursue her dream of going on to medical school. So she accepted a research job with DuPont, hoping to eventually get a medical degree.
“This is the first time a woman has ever given a presentation in this room,” Grace Hopper was once told at the Pentagon, as she was escorted to a meeting with the Secretary of the Navy. As one of the highest-ranking females ever to serve in the Navy, she was a rarity. But not as rare a bird as an octogenarian in the computer industry, another distinction she would hold.
The American Civil War, causing more than 600,000 combatant deaths and many times that number of wounded, crippled plus those with PTSD, need not have happened. The framers of the U.S. Constitution knew well that the representatives from the Southern states would not sign unless language on slavery was omitted. The looming issue of slavery was very apparent. A more visionary Federal government could have fostered a technology to free the slaves.
The air at 20,000 feet above Schweinfurt, Germany, was icy cold, but the bombardier crouching in the nose of the B-17 hardly noticed. Sweat poured down his forehead as flak rocked the aircraft, periodically spattering his compartment's Plexiglas bubble with fragments. He focused intently on preparing for the final bombing run.
RSA Cryptography is the world’s most widely used public-key cryptography method for securing communication on the Internet.
Here is the list of this year's inductees.
Two immense side-wheel steamboats lined up a few minutes before 11:00 am on June 1, 1845 at the foot of Vesey Street on the tip of Manhattan. Inside each pilot house, some 30 feet above the water line, were the boats’ owners—industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt and George Law—two immense egos who had decided to race 66 miles race upriver to Sing Sing. The gleaming tk-foot-long Cornelius Vanderbilt.
By now, in the second decade of the 21st century, even pointing out the cliché has itself become a cliché. Namely, the frustrated tongue-in-cheek query favored by stand-up comics, science fiction geeks, social commentators, and technology critics: where’s my flying car? Which is generally followed by yet another tired old chestnut: the observation that the question has come to symbolize some failure of technological optimism, scientific advancement, or the supposed predictive powers of science fiction.
Fifth Avenue is the parade route for St. Patrick’s Day; three blocks to the east is Park Avenue. Many honorary Irishmen arrive from points east on that day, so police usually block motor traffic from a stretch of Park Avenue north of Grand Central Terminal. To a person waiting to meet friends at the corner of East 47th and Park, this looks like a fine stretch of midtown Manhattan, where the breadth of the avenue gives it a more spacious feel. There is a parkway with a grassy margin separating the streets, and glossy buildings with shops that front on the wide sidewalks.
Innovation is a hot topic in our editorial offices, only in part because we run a magazine devoted to it. "There's a way to do it better-find it," Thomas Edison once said-a notion that defines
so much of our working lives. Every day we devise more efficient systems, come up with fresh ideas, and create new opportunities. What circumstances, environments, and particular factors spawn creativity and bring breakthroughs?
In perhaps the most famous scene of any Bond film, secret agent 007 lies strapped to a table with his legs spread. Archvillain Auric Goldfinger directs an industrial laser toward Bond’s manhood, and slowly the thick red beam surgically cuts the table in half. The secret agent calmly convinces his foe to shut off the laser in the nick of time.
In the mid-1960s Don Bitzer, the director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, was tasked with creating the first computer-based instructional system. He recognized immediately that current screen technology would support such a program. A new, brighter display was needed, one that had no flicker and boasted higher contrast than what was then available on screens using cathode ray tubes.
From Ducts To Dresses
THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT article on the substance that fixes anything and everything, duct tape (“Object Lessons,” by Curt Wohleber, Summer 2003). A student in my heat-transfer class last spring semester made a book bag entirely out of the tape, complete with pockets for a calculator and pencils. I found it a classic example of the innovative spirit. Here is a picture.
HENRY FORD WAS INDEED A GREAT IN novator (“Henry Ford’s Big Flaw,” by John M. Staudenmaier, S.J.), but I question that those are “6000-horsepower gas-turbine engines in the powerhouse” shown on page 38 of the Fall 1994 issue. The prime movers driving the dynamos appear to be cross-compound Corliss steam engines. Gas turbines didn’t become available for industrial use until well after World War II.
During World War II, South Carolina–born Charles Townes worked on nascent microwave technology and designed radar-based bombing systems for Bell Labs. After hostilities ended, he accepted a position at Columbia University. One spring morning in 1951 he experienced a eureka moment when he realized he could generate microwaves with molecules instead of free electrons.
On December 23, 1947, in the Bell Telephone Laboratories at Murray Hill, New Jersey, physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain spoke over the world’s first transistor-amplified telephone circuit, a quarter-inch-tall device composed of a thin strip of gold foil sliced in two in order to create two metal contacts over a crystal of germanium. Their success was the culmination of eight years of research conducted alongside their team leader, 37-year old William B. Shockley, and triggered a wave of new electronics.