November 18, 2010

Frontiers of science

Linus Pauling made a public statement on this date in 1970:  Vitamin C in large doses could help prevent colds.

And just like that, the 1954 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry and 1962 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the man whose work on sickle cell anemia provided the foundation for molecular genetics, who nearly beat Watson and Crick to describing the structure of DNA, the man who was named by Nature magazine as one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time, described as a visionary – that man suddenly became a crank.

Pauling (1901-1994) had begun as a chemist and set the foundations of modern quantum chemistry. He worked on the structure of crystals, experimented in quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, protein structure, molecular biology and medicine, and he made significant contributions in all those fields.

His interest in vitamins as medical therapies for some reason made him less of a serious scientist.  But he lived to be 93, so maybe he was on to something.  At the Linus Pauling Institute – part of Oregon State – his work in vitamin therapy goes on.

* * *

On November 18, 1963, the Bell Telephone Co. introduced the push button phone. And that was the biggest breakthrough for almost a decade.

In 1972, the first patent for cell phone technology was filed and after that the dominoes began to fall:

• U.S. Patent 3,663,762: Cellular Mobile Communication System — Amos Edward Joel (Bell Labs), filed December 21, 1970, issued May 16, 1972 •


• U.S. Patent 3,906,166: Radio Telephone System (Dyna-Tac) — Martin Cooper et al. (Motorola), filed October 17, 1973, issued September 16, 1975

• U.S. Patent 4,144,411: Cellular Radiotelephone System for Different Cell Sizes — Richard H. Frenkiel (Bell Labs), filed September 22, 1976, issued March 13, 1979

Motorola's Dr. Martin Cooper with the first cell phone, created by his team in 1973. Photo by Rico Shen.

• The first commercially automated cellular network (the 1G generation) was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979.

• U.S. Patent 4,399,555: Cellular Mobile Radiotelephone System — Verne MacDonald, Philip Porter, Rae Young, (Bell Labs) filed April 28, 1980, issued August 16, 1983

• U.S. Patent 5,129,098: Radio telephone using received signal strength in controlling transmission power — Andrew McGirr, Barry Cassidy (Novatel), filed September 24, 1990, issued July 7, 1992

• U.S. Patent 5,265,158: Construction of a stand alone portable telephone unit — Jouko Tattari (Nokia), filed May 11, 1992, issued November 23, 1993

• U.S. Patent 5,722,067: Security cellular telecommunications system — Douglas Fougnies et al. (Freedom Wireless), filed December 1994, issued February 24, 1998

• U.S. Patent 7,324,480: Mobile communication apparatus and method including base station and mobile station having multi-antenna: Per-User Unitary Rate Control (PU2RC) — James S. Kim, Kwangbok Lee, Kiho Kim and Changsoon Park, filed July 10, 2003, issued January 29, 2008

Now cell phones can do more than the first laptop, but really  – is anything cooler than the shoe phone?




  1. i believe in C! love the ginormous miami vice phone 😉


    Comment by Nina — November 18, 2010 @ 1:32 am | Reply

  2. I’ve always been fond of Linus. The other one, as well. Hooray for Peanuts.


    Comment by Carol — November 20, 2010 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

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