There are two important deaths in today’s news, both are of men who contributed greatly to their scientific fields.
The first is Jack Kilby, co-inventor of the integrated chip. The best obituary I’ve read is by T.R. Reid of the Washington Post, who wrote a book on the Kilby, his co-inventor Robert Noyce, and the I.C.
He spent 30 years tinkering in an office beside the freeway in Dallas, producing a few dozen patentable ideas, but nothing very lucrative. Leaving the big corporate lab, he said, “was pretty damn close to stupid as a financial matter. But there’s a lot of pleasure for an engineer in picking your own problems to solve. So I’ve enjoyed it.”
The other who died recently, though it hasn’t been reported in the news yet, was Charles “Dave” Keeling. Keeling, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, is the originator/discoverer of the “Keeling Curve,” detailing the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1958. Keeling’s observations were an absolutely fundamental component behind the discovery of global warming, and his work over the decades in monitoring the greenhouse gas has helped bring the science–and the concern–to where it is today.