French Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, a pioneer of the liquid crystal display (LCD), died last week at the age of 74. De Gennes, dubbed the Isaac Newton of our time, won the 1991 Nobel Prize for Physics for his groundbreaking work in liquid crystals and polymers. After graduating from the Ecole Normale Superieure, he …
The Isaac Newton of our time?
/de mortuis nil nisi bonum/, but surely "the modern Newton" is a bit overstated? Newton revolutionised our thinking in optics, mechanics and gravitation as well as (co-)discovering the calculus. Alongside which "contributed to the development of the LCD" (plus a walk-on part in a biopic, which unaccountably Newton never managed) looks a little weak to me.
Did he get
a 74" coffin or go smaller with Bose speakers?
...sorry, I'll go home.
All respect to prof. De Gennes, but surely calling him a modern day Isaac Newton is a bit excessive. After all, ground breaking work on liquid crystals is not quite the same as inventing Calculus and developing a model of force and motion that dominated scientific thinking for over 200 years!
It is SUPERCONDUCTORS not supraconductors
Supraconductors isn't even correct in French, where the french word for superconductors is "supraconducteurs".
Not so sure
If Newton were alive today, I frankly doubt that he would have accomplished anything that would keep his name in the public mind for hundreds of years. As science gets more specific and esoteric, it becomes dramatically harder to make vast public discoveries that sound wowee-zing to the layman.
The alternative to calling people like him a modern day Isaac Newton is saying that we don't have any, and will, most likely, never have one again. Name one living scientist that more than, say, 5% of the US population can actually name off the top of their heads. And that's while they're alive!
Your alternatives are:
1) people are stupider today, universally. Or,
2) It's so much harder to make a useful discovery today that the people who are as smart as Newton, or nearly so, are reduced to nibbling at the fringe of knowledge.
If Newton were alive today ...
... he'd be working on financial derivatives in the City, making a mint (sorry!)
The point is Newton was a genius who towered above his contemporaries. Now if someone called Roger Penrose "the modern Newton", they might have more of a point.
Re. Fred Fnord
But then again, less than 5% of the US population can correctly name the capital of China despite having bought hugh quantities of Chinese-made goods from their Wal-Marts, etc. !!
So I believe that your alternative 1) is correct when applied to the US !!
Penrose the new Newton?
Hardly. Maybe Dawkins - he seems paranoid enough about religion to be the equivalent (by the way, I'm an atheist).
"Supraconductors" is fine
Although largely replaced by the newer term "superconductor", materials with superconducting properties were referred to as supraconductors in all the early research, and the tem is still used interchngeably in some circles.
Where was STN LCD invented?
STN LCD made the commodity LCD market possible, didn't it? Prior to that LCDs weren't ever going to be affordable?
STN LCD was invented at RSRE Malvern, wasn't it? (And then in the usual British way commoditised elsewhere)
What kind of contributor doesn't mention Malvern/STN in an LCD-history-related article?
There's your scientist more than 5% of the American public can name. But even Hawking shouldn't lay claim to being a modern Newton.
Missing from any article on the History of LCD
Pioneering work on liquid crystals was undertaken in the late 1960s by the UK's Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern. The team at RRE supported ongoing work by George Gray and his team at the University of Hull who ultimately discovered the cyanobiphenyl liquid crystals (which had correct stability and temperature properties for application in LCDs).
> Now if someone called Roger Penrose "the modern Newton", they might have more of a point.
He fits the criteria - brilliant but a bit of a crank as a sideline.
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