Friday, March 31, 2006

Who invented the cellphone? - Part I

I admit it. I don't know although the ubiquitious thing is now a given part of my life just like the T.V. or the computer.
Are we less in awe of technology and invention than what we were a few decades earlier? Movies of the 1980s seem so quaint now..I know when a movie has been made in the 80s or early 90s just as we would recognise movies made in the 50s, 60s or 70s - because they are not using cellphones (!) along with certain other hints such as the costumes, the computers they used, and so on. 'Time' magazine recently had a story about how kids are too wired these days..what with IM, cellphones, iPods, laptops, etc.
A lot of us know who invented the telephone, the radio, television, evolution of computers, the transistor, the printing press, the electric bulb, alternating current, rubber, the steam engine, the aeroplane and many other pathbreaking discoveries. But, technology today is getting scaled at a rate never imagined before and probably, we are living life in such a fast-paced lane that we do not have time to 'stand and stare' (to quote a famous poet -
What is this life but full of care?
We have no time to stand and stare)
stare at the wondrous discoveries and inventions that have made our lives so much more convenient.
But, some inventions are more entrenched in the public imagination and gave birth to more inventions in their genre. Maybe that is why some scientists fade into oblivion even after winning the Nobel whereas some remain in our consciousness even when they have not, long after their time is past.
Take alternating current, for example. Till then, humankind knew only of direct current. Although alternating current was another type of electric current, the implications and the effect it would have on human society were humongous.
Alternating current is the reason why turbines are able to provide electricity to millions of homes and offices worldwide. There was this programme on Science Channel, I think, which showed the intense rivalry between Edison and Nikola Tesla and how finally, Tesla teamed up with Westinghouse. ( Aha! I just found out I share my birthday with Nikolas Tesla..whoopee! Makes me feel capable of achieving something in life:) ).
Maybe, the media must have had a field day and indirectly promoted science.
Think of any modern day discoveries or inventions that have been truly earth shattering.
The discovery of the DNA, the Internet, the first heart transplant, the cloning of Dolly the sheep come into mind. But do the majority of us know of the countless others that walk away with Nobels year after year? Do we know the names of those men and women who have made them possible, slogging away day after day, holed up in labs?
Is the media to blame for only highlighting the names of actors, models, politicians and sportstars?
Okay, this post continues later. Let me google who really invented the cellphone.

2 comments:

runawaysun said...

Thank you for your detailed comments on my blog, Lakshmi. Really appreciated them. Would have responded further, but would need an email id to do that.

Read some of your blog posts too. Studied pieces. They do give food for thought.

You can reach me at:
therunawaysun@gmail.com

MellowDrama said...

Hey and how about those millions of patents that never see daylight, some are plain nutty but some are really brillaint. Check out ideasaday - starting out small but it is a start. The media highlights what sells...yesterday's mindblowing headline lines today's trash bin. Cheers, do hop by my site when you can!