A Century of Physics by D. Allan Bromley

By D. Allan Bromley

During this "Cook’s Tour" of advancements in physics and realted fields, D. Allan Bromley, technological know-how consultant to President Bush in the course of 1989-1983 and previous president of the yankee actual Society, conveys a lot of the thrill and sweetness that examine in physics generated within the twentieth century and asks what new issues are in shop within the subsequent century.

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Biomaterials We are on the threshold of being able to implant at least crude artificial retinas, and artificial semi-cochlear canals and connect them to the brain to provide some level of sensory perception to the blind and to the deaf. New biomaterials can serve as templates for regrowth of both hard and soft human tissue 7. Superconductors Again we are on the threshold of widespread application of superconductors in motors, generators, transmission lines, maglev transport, and the like. The Holy Grail here is the room-temperature superconductor, which still eludes us.

The Immediate Postwar Period The immediate postwar period was one of major excitement as graduates of the wartime projects began to focus on where their subsequent careers would lead. A catalyst in this process was a series of symposia and conferences that brought physicists together to exchange ideas. The Shelter Island Conference of 1947 was typical of these meetings (see Figure 37). So also were the series of meetings held at the Carnegie Institution in Washington (see Figure 37a). Most of the leading figures in American physics could still be photographed standing together in an entryway!

In the Bell Laboratories, for example, where some of the nation's most able physicists had come together in the late 1940s, the laboratory management insisted on a more targeted pattern of activity and established a number of specific challenges toward whose solution they expected the laboratory staff to direct their attention. One of these challenges was that of finding a replacement for the notoriously unreliable and short-lived vacuum tube. The answer, of course, was the transistor, invented in 1947.

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