America lost a great Maker last week. Stanford R. Ovshinsky was a self-taught engineer and inventor who held more than 400 patents when he died on October 17th at the age of 90. The name may not be familiar to you, but his work is. Ovshinsky is credited with inventing key technologies behind flat-panel liquid crystal displays that we use to watch TV, work on the Internet, or play with our phones.
He was also the inventor of the nickel-metal hydride battery — a rechargeable battery that now powers everything from laptops to the Prius. Ovshinsky (along with his wife, Iris, who held a Ph.D. in biochemistry and was his research partner for much of his life), began working on improved versions of batteries, solar cells, and other energy technologies beginning in the early 1960s. More than a decade before climate change became a well-established fact, Ovshinsky was concerned about the pollution and political instability that went along with fossil fuels. He spent the rest of his life developing better alternatives.
For a good introduction to how truly groundbreaking Ovshinsky's ideas were, check out a 1978 article from Popular Science, all about his invention of amorphous silicon semiconductors — a technology that today forms the basis behind both thin-film solar panels and smart phone displays. At the time though, it made Ovshinky a controversial figure.
• Michigan Public Radio's obituary
• A good explanation of the inner workings of nickel-metal hydride batteries
• Popular Science's obit (with a link to the 1978 story)
Thanks to Art Myatt for the heads up on this!
Researchers successfully revived ancient microbes, some more than 100 million years old, that were buried in the seafloor. During an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, the scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and their colleagues drilled into the ocean sediment almost 6,000 meters below the surface. “Our main question […]
My family stopped wiping down all our groceries to “disinfect” them a couple months ago, mostly because of hygiene exhaustion. Then in May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention clarified its own Web page about how COVID-19 spreads to state that “based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about […]
I’d totally go.
The aluminum can is a great invention. And for 60 years, it and its crafty little addition, the pull tab, have made transporting and drinking all of our favorite beers, soft drinks and other beverages about 1,000 percent easier. Of course, evolution continues — and even an innovation as awesome as the aluminum can is […]
It’s tempting for many young professionals to assume that because they’ve spent most of their lives posting links to Facebook or pushing selfies to Instagram that they have the skills needed to be a digital marketer. Creating compelling content is certainly important, but if you’re not up to speed on search engine optimization (SEO), how […]
With everybody working from home now, it’s natural to start thinking about careers where not going into the office is more the norm than the exception. Better yet, many are looking to start careers as freelancers, professionals who build their livelihoods around the scope of their talent and not the fortunes of one all-encompassing employer. […]