How Physics build the concept of Entrepreneurship: The inside story.


Entrepreneurship, as most of us believe is not a recent phenomena but has a vast history of ideas, inventions and intersections beginning from the early 19th Century world of physics. It all started with a thought when law of classical mechanics and thermodynamics had been already established through various experiments by the likes of Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Bernoulli, Cavendish, Franklin and Lagrange. Just when these ideas of fundamental science of motion flourished, better ideas came through. As the horizontal base of the pyramid was set, vertical growth was imperative and inevitable.

The one idea, which started the era of entrepreneurship, was the invention of electric battery by Alessandro Volta in 1800. This invention led to more discoveries by Ampere and Ohm who further demonstrated the parallel electric currents exerted forces on each other and relationship between voltage, current and resistance respectively, which is the basis of fundamental electrodynamics. Just when Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light, understanding of principle of interference and superposition developed. It all made sense, when Michael Faraday built an electricity powered motor in 1821 and formed the basis of current through magnetism i.e electromagnetic induction. Ideas evolved then on the basis of other ideas. Isn’t that entrepreneurship already in true sense? An idea Faraday proposed regarding electromagnetic forces was rejected by the scientific community, which was later accepted by the rest of the world and still forms the development of electromechanical devices that ruled the 19th Century engineering.

Meanwhile, in the field of thermodynamics Joule and Mayer worked on the connection between heat and mechanical energy. This connection was important for the development of steam engines. Carnot captured these basic ideas to form the dynamics of idealized engines and these ideas hold to formulate the most important idea of First Law of Thermodynamics. This led to the second law of Thermodynamics and so on by Kelvin and Clausius. Just when Maxwell through his ideas carried forward the idea of electricity and magnetism, Hertz experimentally confirmed those theories and discovered the photoelectric effect, which led to the invention of radio and television. These ideas were then carried forward by Nikola Tesla and Jagdishchandra Bose to further develop the ecosystem with different ideas. This is how physics led to application based engineering in the time when technology was not mainstream.

If this culture wasn’t prevailing then, the emergence of the 19th Century’s finest entrepreneurs, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison wouldn’t have been possible. During late 1870’s, Henry Ford started working as a machinist in Detroit, USA dealing with portable steam engines while Edison formed his Edison Electric Light company patenting electric light bulbs. By then, Edison had already invented phonograph and telegraph, which changed the way world communicated. With his creation of the first ever industrial research Lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison then quoted “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn the candles”. And this still holds true in our time, where candles are expensive than electricity. Edison also invented the motion picture camera. Thank god, he did!

On the other hand, Henry Ford became an engineer at Edison Illuminating Company where he used to work on his personal automobile experiments and his creation of a self-propelled vehicle called Ford Quadricycle. He was then introduced to Edison through a group meeting, where Edison encouraged him to work on his second vehicle. Soon, after his completion of the second project, Ford left Edison’s company to start Detroit Automobile Company with capital from a baron, William Murphy. Ultimately, that company was dissolved and with the invention of 26 horsepower automobile, the backers formed Henry Ford Company with Ford as the chief engineer. The rest, as they say is history. The inventor-entrepreneur philosophy emerged in the beginning of the 20th Century, when a sizable number of physicists were forming companies in the tune to change the world.

As the culture progressed, with the world facing two disastrous wars, one in 1914-18 and the other in 1939-45, these gave the necessity to nations forming different aerial and ground-breaking technologies, primarily to use against each other. They say, necessity gives rise to inventions. And this necessity lead nations to develop what is going to be constructive and in lives of all in the near future. The Second World War held the genesis of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, when Americans entered WWII in 1941. This war was literally an electronic war, where nations were battling with each other with different bombing and radar based technologies. Each nation, primarily Germany and USA, built different types of radars, to block and pursue efficient communication with their bases regarding the movements of the opposite camp’s defense. This lead to the formation of Harvard Radio Research Lab in US to understand the signals intelligence and develop electronic warfare. This secret lab was headed by Dr. Fredrick Terman, who was the Dean of Department of Engineering at Stanford University.

The Stanford director, due to the pressure from the government and the culture shift, encouraged students to turn to entrepreneurship and start their own companies. The students included William Hewlett and David Packard, who went on to start HP Computers. Since then scientific research and development in the universities across US begun to flourish and became the precursor to the beginning of 20th Century entrepreneurship. The idea of open-source mentality among the physicists led to the widening developments in science and technology entrepreneurship. After the WWII, Terman’s strategy included the setup of Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) to promote basic and unclassified research in building radars, power-tubes and jammers. Soon after the setup of Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL) and the merge of both ERL and AEL became Systems Engineering Laboratory (SRL) at Stanford. It was then, different microwave and systems companies emerged in Silicon Valley to produce equipments for the US defense. And that was the mark of beginning of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

After the independence in 1947, India was at the forefront of social and political havoc, but the ideology among Indian entrepreneurs despite that did not change and they invested in their own independent nation for a better future. One of those entrepreneurs was Vikram Sarabhai, who after studying natural sciences at Cambridge returned to India to set up a research institution, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and pursued the government of India to start a space research program, when Russia just launched Sputnik into the space. Moreover, he was also one of the founding members of one of the premier institutes in India, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He was a physicist turned entrepreneur. And India is highly indebted to him for what his vision has given to the country. The idea of Entrepreneurship by then had already established by the pioneers G.D Birla and J.R.D Tata. A new wave of entrepreneurship emerged in India as a consequence of the existing business tradition and culture.

As different electronics companies emerged in the Silicon Valley in the mid 1950s, William Shockley, who was the director of anti-submarine warfare operations group at Columbia in 1942-43 and Solid State Physics group leader, co-invented the first point contact transistor with help with Bell Labs. He was then jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. By then, Shockley has already founded Shockley semiconductor in 1955, which was the first semiconductor company in California. The traitorous eight which included Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Sheldon Roberts who were the youngest employees at the firm demanded to replace Shockley from the management team and eventually left Shockley semiconductor to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Eventually, Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to start Integrated Electronics (Intel) and others started Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Though Shockley maybe a bad manager, but he was a great researcher and someone who laid the foundation of chip companies, which dominated the industry for the next 20 years. The 65 chip companies which were founded came from the first and second generation teams at Shockley Semiconductor. Some entrepreneurs have the tendency to make other entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer and freedom to work on their projects. Knowingly or unknowingly, he made a lot of entrepreneurs under his own belt. In true sense, Shockley was the father of the Silicon Valley, the valley that revolutionized the world of electronics.

Gordon Moore, who was a chemist and physicist and Robert Noyce, who was a physicist and co-inventor of integrated circuits, started Intel after leaving Fairchild Semiconductor with capital investment from Arthur Rock. With Intel breaking the barrier, the world changed with the inbound of microprocessors and micro controllers, the most important components of CPU used in the computers. And we all know what happened after that! (The device on which you are reading this post).

Physicists have been old hands at entrepreneurship. Today, more physicists than ever are involved in different startups all over the world either as founders or employees. Startups are inventing different physics based innovations and products, since Patenting and Intellectual Property law in US are adopted in the culture and has become popular among the early stage startups. One of the Entrepreneur who is considered as the next generation Steve Jobs, is Elon Musk. Elon has studied physics as his second bachelors degree from University of Pennsylvania and is the founder of SpaceX, who’s one of the mission is to find life at Mars by 2020, and is best known as the co-founder of online payment giant, PayPal and electric vehicles manufacturer, Tesla Motors. The interests he developed over rocket technologies and clean technologies were due to his aptitude and love for physics, and he credits the subject for all what he is today.

Today, entrepreneurship is popular among scientists and young PHDs and more people from physics background are starting disruptive technology based startups. Though starting a technology company is a complex operation and takes time to reach the break-even, the success is the idea where solid businesses endure over time, generate steady employment, develop intellectual property and conduct a mix of R&D for game-changing commercial results. To all what we see and experience today is the result of works and theories by thousands of scientists over last two centuries and the ones who implemented those works in building the future. Theories connected with realism of behavior, materials, systems and devices, and technologies erupted like the volcano. The horizontal base of physics and nature of sciences has been creating the way for our vertical future. And Entrepreneurs are the ones adapting it.

Coding: The new way of thinking


Today, the world is a boiling pot of data, softwares and codes flowing through the internet. Through these codes startups/companies prototype, design, create and build their disruptive technologies which change the way we communicate with the world. Coming from a STEM background has helped me understand the basics of software and applications, as it gives one the way to think structurally and logically. As, I am pursuing my master thesis project applying an effective tool LABVIEW for building algorithms to extract electrical, mechanical and optical properties of  different devices, the exercise has helped me structure my thought processes algorithmically. Thinking structurally is the need of the hour creative thinking.

Recently, we might have come across the video which went viral from Code.org stating the importance of coding in our lives. If you haven’t seen it, I am sharing it here. It explains the need of coding in our lives as we are continuously linked to it in our daily lives through social network, interactive devices and computers.

Also, I have come across an informative TEDx talk from the CEO of FirstRain, Penny Herscher who explains how coding has helped her achieve what she has achieved in her life and its underlying importance in the time we live in.

Though, we know what we are capable of. It’s just an afterthought of what you can build and impact this world many folds like never before. Coding is definitely the new way of thinking, if not boring. 

Connection- Between the lines.


Ok, so these days I have been reading extensively about a lot of topics together, and I somewhere made out that everything is so interdependent to each other and made sense. Be it technology, economics, science, politics, psychology and design.Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said ” Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being”. Everything has a gist, and we see it as we are.

Technology Design Co-relation: Technology has always been revolutionized over design, read Apple. Today’s technology is not only serving the purpose but also expatiating the trends in the industry be it grids, networks, tablets, smart-phones, web applications and various different products including social media and clean-technology giving it a design edge to the rescue. Customers are half convinced over a good design, which is becoming a widening trend. Innovation is a part of design and an idea solving a purpose, making it more efficient. In India, we call it “Jugaad”. That’s how we design our lives, if not technology.

This is a chart showing the interconnected, in...

This is a chart showing the interconnected, interdependent nature of modern society that can be used to illustrate Structural Functionalism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 Science- Politics Co-relation: Where Science is trying to change the world, people are becoming much more politically inclined in expanding its scope. One such example, is of Patents. Where Institutions and Individuals are trying to develop products over a little modification and selling it in the market. There is a lot of plagiarism in research of various different sectors and areas. Nuclear weapons are another example, where we see a constructive as well as a destructive use in this advancement of science. This is affecting the world as a whole, and nation in parts. Different political institutions and governments are involving themselves in the research of several fields with the core motive of how that will make them stronger in different spheres. Be it Space Research or Particle Research, everyone is trying to capture and make a mark in different dimensions. Well, to some extent it makes sense as its beneficial for the masses in the long run, but there are always repercussions. 

 Economics- Psychology Co-relation:   As the world is struggling to keep its economies upright, there is a lot of dependence of the sentiments of the nation as a whole in determining the economic prosperity of the nation. Be it the worth of the money when the prices rise (Inflation), the consumer behavior in the Supply Demand ratios or the person’s income compared to the total nation’s income (GDP). All these behaviors are subjected to different psychological aspects in each individual of the country, not just the earnings in businesses, governments and corporations. Economics has always been sentimental in its approach and not statistical. The stock markets drive on organizational behavior, and emotional trends. Serving a society and earning wealth are two different sides of the same coin. One can happen at a time, and are directional to each other. 

How this world is so diverse and co-related? Some random musings after a late night idiosyncrasies. But, I am always inspired in between the lines and worlds.

 

Curiosity. Particles. Physics. Mystery.


Universe as we know, is expanding.

How? Never seem to care?

The majestic limit of imagination and its creativity lies in the wonders of the universe. From the ancient sand houses of time, to a popular sky-scraper, there is no end to imagination. Each imagination has its own significance. The big bang theory gives us the picture of the time, and the origin of the earth after vast transformations. The universe is made of infinite galaxies and each galaxy of infinite stars and planets. There are not just electrons, protons and neutrons in the Cosmo but a lot new range of different matter particles known as Baryons and Leptons, and anti matter particles.

A lot of research has been conducted at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), in Geneva where huge detectors and accelerators add to breathtaking research to detect Higgs Bosons (which are also known as God Particles) in fundamental particle physics and cosmology. There is FERMILAB in Illinois in USA, where astrophysicists, particle physicists and scientists work in defining what the future beholds. These detectors at CERN have already reached a milestone of accelerating the particles in the detector nearly at the speed of light, once it is achieved that these particles reach the speed of light, it will prove the Einstein’s  relativity theory wrong and will change the shape of Quantum Physics in determining the origin of the universe.

Are the extra dimensions then the ones we know? Does universe behaves as a hologram? There are never-ending questions in this field of research which not only fascinates scientists but a common follower of science and technology. These questions will define how the world will look like in 2050 be it at the cosmic frontier or by the string theory approach. The scientists are at quest to determine how is the universe came into existence and what are the driving forces behind the dynamics of the space. It will not just be a blot on that misconceptions of beliefs and faiths, but will question the existence of what we call GOD? Well, I think it will never be easy, but curiosity leads to the truth. This will encapsulate the mysteries and secrets in the dark energy, dark matter or the dark universe.

Only time will tell. 

 

Nanotechnology, the next in!


In 1959, physicist and future Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman gave a lecture to the American Physical Society called “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” and here is what he meant by it.

Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology, or nanotech, is the study and design of machines on the molecular and atomic level. To be considered nanotechnology, these structures must be anywhere from 1 to 100 nanometers in size. A nanometer is equivalent to one-billionth of a regular meter, which means that these structures are extremely small. The innovations in nanotechnology will range from a wide range of applications which will change the shape of the world.

  • As we have seen movies like Star Trek and Transporters, the concept of Molecular Manufacturing is taking its heat and if the understanding of the molecular structures is more intensified, there can be unlimited discoveries which world has never ever seen before.
  • In the medical industry, the research in molecular level of drugs can lead to making NanoRobots, which a patient can drink with a fluid and it can detect and destroy cancerous cells in his/her body. This is revolutionize cancer research and other medicinal drugs preventing the most prevalent diseases like typhoid and malaria.
  • After the latest discovery of graphene (the new carbon allotrope) in 2005, the electronic properties characterized by the material will change the shape of semiconductor devices, integrated circuits and its applications. IBM and Intel are doing intensive research on this new allotrope of carbon and millions of dollars are being spent on its experimentation.
  • Computers and robots could be reduced to extraordinarily small sizes. Medical applications might be as ambitious as new types of genetic therapies and anti-aging treatments. New interfaces linking people directly to electronics could change telecommunications.And human behavior could change the way the world lives today.
Thus, this technology will design the next 25 to 30 years in the field of technology and will change the shape of the world in a lot more aspects. Hence, by going back into the roots of the atoms and molecules, the future can be designed. The theory of bottom-up approach.
Just, when I got an assignment on ” The Present and Future of Technology” in the condensed matter physics class at the university.

Conventional Wisdom and Technology


Today I witnessed an old man in his seventies passing from the college gate, well-dressed on a cycle. I believe he was one of the professors at our institute. This sight made me realize how unconventional and unadaptive, we the current generation are. And I was in a car.

Today, the technology has progressed leaps and bounds in the last 80 years, where actually in 1932, where first particle accelerator was 23 cms long and today it has grown more than lakh times, with 27 Kms long Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. From the semiconductor devices to the printers to satellites, there has been a large increase in revolutionizing the world, making it more efficient and convenient for the people. But, have we actually lost the power of conventional wisdom in using technology?

We talk about Global warming, extinction of wildlife species, post-effects from nuclear reactors and radiation, earth-crust displacement and what not? But, have we actually thought, it is all because of the rapid increase in science and technology, which are leading to unknown disasters in the future. The sense of nations, companies and individuals taking technology as it comes, is unconventional and its no wisdom. Today, despite of several campaigns we actually don’t contribute towards the nature in a direct way nor spreading the same. The things which can be done, should be done despite of how technologically irrelevant it may sound. Sometimes, the consciousness in needed to work with nature and we cannot neglect the fact that it will be technology instigating wars and natural calamities in the future. If today, there won’t be a general awareness for the same the future will have more Tsunamis and more tornadoes than ever before. And not as a citizen of a nation, we should behave as a human in adapting to technologies and getting out of that comfort zone which we have made for ourselves.

Its time, we stop existing and start living. (One of the recent quotes I read),

Its time to be conventional again and be wise. 

Here’s a video presentation of how technology has changed the behavior.

Open Journalism.


Isn’t media a device to measure the day-to-day dealings, publishing the news and keeping the common man with the loop of truth and faith? Is it happening by the way it should be? A Big NO. Today’s media houses have become an entertainment portal and is commercialized as a mainstream voice of any country. But in fact they are not the whistle-blowers but the trend-waivers of the modern society. They can just instigate emotions and keep the hidden facts out of the reach. Is this what we call journalism in true sense? There are some basic self-governing guidelines for the same which is mentioned in a book “The elements of Journalism” by Bill Kovach, which are listed below:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to the citizens.
  3. Its essence is discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the news significant, interesting, and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

Are these being followed today?

If we go back in the brief history of time, from where the idea of spreading information started England, where the invention of movable printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1456, led to the wide dissemination of printed books. Read: The project  www.gutenberg.org  is dedicated to this inventor and today provides around 36,000 Ebooks for free. The first periodical Mercurius Gallobelgicus was printed in Latin and was distributed widely all over. And then american journalism rose with  New York Herald and The New york times in the eighteenth century.

Today, the world is digitizing content, making it more open sourced and there is a wave of awareness spreading into different communities as Right to Information Act and people are realizing the power of information. Wikileaks (www.wikileaks.org) as we know has spread the secrets and the loopholes of the governments, nation’s policies, state-run activities, the war logs of Iran and Afghanistan, the conspiracy theories of individuals in organizations, the legislatures, the trade policies between the nations and banks, the purpose behind running a project with exposing the fair value involved. And it collaborated with thousands of people all around in spreading those information, and Julian Assange as we know faced quite a political misfit over rape allegations. I am sure wikileaks is following the above mentioned guidelines. But, it’s again a viewpoint as to information and secrets should be out or not.

This is where the world is heading towards, before the apocalypse, there will be a war against information and before that the idea of Open Journalism will take its course and the true journalist will be much more moral and humane than ever before, if not political. Satellites, servers and super-computers are developing in the rage. The social movement on resource based economy is also on question in defining what true sense of journalism is: http://zeitgeistmovie.com/

By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
– Oscar Wilde. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAIEamakLoY

2011, the times and its effect. 
 

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