Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The crystal maze

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The history of semiconductor physics is not one of grand heroic theories, but one of painstaking intelligent labor. Not strokes of genius producing lofty edifices, but great ingenuity and endless undulation of hope and despair. Not sweeping generalizations, but careful judgment of the border between perseverance and obstinacy. Thus the history of solid-state physics in general, and of semiconductors in particular, is not so much about great men and women and their glorious deeds, as about the unsung heroes of thousands of clever ideas and skillful experiments—reflection of an age of organization rather than of individuality…As with almost all inventions, it could be proved after the event that a predecessor had existed. The multitude of theories, techniques, and inventions that get nowhere because they are conceived under an inauspicious constellation of circumstances is so great that it is not really surprising when almost all successful inventions find, with hindsight, unknown and unwanted precursors.

Ernest Braun, in Out of the Crystal Maze

Written by nevalalee

April 14, 2018 at 7:30 am

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