Bloomberg, Peter, One Hundred Fifty Years discussed on Bloomberg Businessweek
The weekend edition of Bloomberg businessweek if the element is to ask the periodic table of elements turned one hundred fifty years old Peter court will break down by the table it's so important even more so today the what was first created it's amazing it's lasted this long and is still so vital as you say personal profile America's salt king he's got his eye on the throne and bring you one element more valuable than diamonds first up though we touch on one scientist fascination with germanium. it feels to me like the one that might lend itself to movie someday Netflix or Amazon Sears about the scientists obsession that led to today's digital world with us to set the scene editor Dan Ferrara I do feel like right I feel like we can do a story about for you guys to do a story about this right table of session who is Gordon T. L. so he was a genius of course who who's obsession was germanium which was used in early semiconductor is germanium. it's a metal. in this case. right it's it's it's it's germanium in Silicon are are the two primary things too much semiconductors and me he was obsessed the germanium and while other people working on silicon he was trying to say no no no germanium is the stuff in his particular passion was was creating a form of germanium that was of such incredibly high quality and purity what he's talking about lapse rate is working the bell and perfectly three doing this although he had a really kind of pushes case make his case people there like a well other geniuses of balance created created the semiconductor yeah and the transistor and he was like trying to say use some germanium this stuff is awesome just because he loved it eventually they came around this way of thinking and in the end they made a germanium transistor which was super important ultimately he was then involved at Texas Instruments in the creation of the first silicon transistor which is of course the thing we're talking about is changing everything right there what I love about the stories that we take for granted like our cell phones and everything and there's so much that goes into this but this is really the building blocks of where we are today right if you see the images in the story the stuff is really simple like the the things that they're building in labs are very they they look like science projects they are just at the highest possible level so you in doing this story working with the reporter editing it I mean what is it that struck out for you because I feel like this is not an individual that we talk about is that where the scientists that everybody is a household name this is somebody was working behind the scenes but what he did was. and I think I think. people who know the history of the technology they they in fact do you know his name even on your right he's just below that level where he's a household name but his contribution was was really very significant what let's talk a bit more about that contribution because as I said you know he was going to bell labs saying like let's do this let's do this like this makes sense but there was kind of pushing it off to the side and finally the like Erika work on it but he had to work in a lab I think as the writer of pop reports kinda cloak and dagger hitting off hours right like in the middle of the night clean up the lap before he left touches limit on that part right so like I said he was obsessed with the use of germanium well his the people were slightly elevated bottom slightly higher prestige were working the silicon and it's like you guys are missing and really on a V. as in Germany. and they and bell and his superiors allowed him to basically shift his work schedule so he worked up over night to work on on pure find that your name crystal and then there is kind of an aha moment at the end where he got it right and they said okay you were you can come you can come back to work in the daytime now and we're going to use this product and and and it really did change change a company's approach will end up right I think having a dedicated lab for growing the races in particular right to think think of that I mean like what is it like to grow germanium crystals for a living yeah it's an odd kind of thing to perfect that was his passion this is a fun moment to you as you said he eventually I think it was what the end of nineteen fifty two he laughed and he went to Texas Instruments and and and they were **** on focusing on transistor technology terrorism about his time there right so it at at bell it it. well they they had been doing germanium but it became evident that silicon would be a superior product for certain kinds of applications I think specifically it was for the F. case that produced a lot of heat as in military applications I never get this was during and just following the rule of World War two. so there was a shift to silicon and he did that work. this place has virgin meaning he he led in the shift to silicon and miss the shift to the production of the early silicon transistors AT and T. I. which became so big phenomenon there's is there's an anecdote in the story about about him while in the crowd by pulling a silicon transistor from his pocket because that's the kind of thing that well second crowd right right well because it is like okay we're going to do the right. right right here is the silicon transistors nieces and financially is now well and what's interesting is and as I think I feel like with any kind of scientist you know the work that they do in the past and the work that he did on germanium helped in in terms of what he was able to do it T. I. right he was right and in advance level are at an advanced level because of what Hitler is all about purifying make perfect crystals friend Celine he switched materials that. he was a germanium man he was a germanium ma'am but I also think it just remind you that these people you know these individuals to catch on to something right in science or you know looking at the periodic table saying that we can do something with some you know something has brought us to think about what it is brought as to where we are today with lots of as many as it. if you think that the labs in nineteen forty absolute full genius is full of amazing people who are collaborating or in some instances not getting along and you know there's a lot of very smart people are working together to bring us to where we are now right and it's a competition creates exactly dramatic outcomes I love this store it's really fun yeah I think so much all right thanks much appreciate. and that's editor Dan Ferrara and when we think about the elements nothing seems more elemental to the economy than Silicon Valley and I guess it all started with germanium yeah exactly and thank god for Gordon teal and his persistence when it came to germanium because it really it really set the groundwork for where we are today in terms of silicon in everything you're listening to Bloomberg businessweek coming up one scientist is trying to spark demand for.