Giving Thanks to Inventors

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate friends, family, and tradition. At IV, we like to add one more category to the list: inventors. After all, inventors have put immense time and energy into developing groundbreaking technologies that improve society. 

Giving Thanks to Inventors

This holiday, we’re thankful for inventors like Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite and held more than 350 patents, and Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist whose work led to the development of bulletproof vests. And of course, we appreciate inventor superheroes like Ellen Ochoa, a space pioneer, and Nikola Tesla.

We’re also grateful for the work of those who continue to champion transformative invention, like IV inventor-in-residence Lowell Wood, the record holder of U.S. patents, and our many Behind the Breakthrough participants who know full well that success is a product of both determination and failure. Take, for example, Dr. Michael Manion, the director of Keon Research, who has created more than 100 diverse inventions and continues to work on innovative ideas like “smart tattoos” for cattle and other animals.

Then there’s Sgt. Gary Walters, a veteran who created a prosthesis cooling mechanism that improves the lives of amputees. And we can’t forget about young inventors like Lindokuhle Mnikati, who developed an advanced electric washing line to help his neighbor dry clothes in South Africa.  

We could go on about the tremendous inventors who have changed our world. But instead we’ll be thinking of them as we slice our delicious turkey with an electric carving knife – an invention, for the record, by Jerome Murray, who also created the audible pressure cooker, a pump for open heart surgery, and much more. 

From all of us at IV, thank you to the many inventors around the globe working tirelessly to make our world a better place, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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Intellectual Ventures Creates Technology Development Center in Singapore

At Intellectual Ventures, we believe that global networks of inventors are a more efficient and productive method for generating new inventions to solve the world’s most pressing problems. That’s why last week in Singapore, we were proud to announce the creation of the Technology Development Center (TDC), with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). 

Intellectual Ventures Creates Technology Development Center in Singapore

As part of the launch of the TDC, we hosted a conference on open innovation in Singapore with influential speakers from government, academia and industry. The event took place at Singapore’s Red Dot Museum and had more than 150 attendees representing many Singaporean and multinational companies. In addition, there were many international guests from other parts of Asia, Europe and North America.  

IV founder and CTO Edward Jung opened the conference by talking about his belief that invention can no longer just be the work of the proverbial inventor toiling away alone in their garage. Our invention network, IVIN, operated by IV’s Invention Development Fund , now has more than 10,000 members around the world including ~7,000 inventors and a wide range of other technical experts involved in technology development, invention review and patenting. The conference guest of honor, American ambassador to Singapore, the Honorable Kirk Wagar, joined Jung on stage to congratulate IV and discuss his belief that the TDC will be a great tool to wed traditional American inventiveness and IV’s global reach with Singapore’s regional economic leadership.

Moving forward, the TDC intends to take a small sub-set of the new inventions our global invention network generates and create prototypes or conduct additional scientific testing on them. This will better allow us to create packages of technology for our customers that contain not only an invention disclosure or a patent application, but also a working model or a set of baseline scientific data. We have already identified three projects that the TDC will immediately begin work on.

The launch of the new TDC in Singapore is the first in a series of global efforts we are undertaking in places such as Turkey and Germany. And the innovation conference was just one of several important events we hosted in November! Last week, we announced the grand opening of IV’s new lab space – an additional 33,000 square feet dedicated to helping global invention thrive.

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Intellectual Ventures Opens New Laboratory

Today we announced the grand opening of Intellectual Ventures Laboratory’s (IV Lab’s) new location – more than 87,000 square feet of research facilities, representing almost 33,000 square feet of additional space compared to the old Lab, dedicated to helping global invention thrive. 

Intellectual Ventures Opens New Laboratory

The mission of IV Lab is to bridge the gap between early stage ideas and proof of concept demonstration. The team focuses on the many stages of invention, validating a concept and refining the technology to demonstrate its potential for commercial or humanitarian use.

“The opening of IV’s new Lab is a critical component of our steadfast support of global invention,” said Nathan Myhrvold, CEO and founder of Intellectual Ventures. “As we continue to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges through the power of invention, the Lab will continue to play a central role in that game-changing work.”

The scientists at IV Lab work on a variety of areas including photonics, nanotechnology, electronics, environmental testing, metallurgical analysis, physics, and chemistry and biology laboratories. The Lab also includes a state-of-the-art instrument shop, the Modernist Cuisine Cooking Lab and the Metamaterials Commercialization Center.

“From technologies like the ArktekTM, which helps deliver lifesaving vaccines to even the most remote health posts to TerraPower, a next-generation nuclear energy technology, our superbly talented team paired with the tremendous capabilities of IV Lab, have the unique opportunity to bring global inventions to life for those who need it most,” said Maurizio Vecchione, senior vice president, Global Good and Research.

Here are some facts about IV and IV Lab:

  • IV Lab is an 87,000+ square-foot facility that’s home to a diverse team of experts in electrical and mechanical engineering, software development, network security, chemistry, microbiology, microscopy, materials science, nanotechnology, physics, thermodynamics, and medical devices.
  • IV has infused more than $2.3B into the economy since 2000 with more than half of that ($1.35B) paid to independent inventors, startups/subject matter experts and to universities/governments.
  • To date, four companies have been incubated in the Lab and spun-out of IV: TerraPower in 2008, Kymeta in 2012, Evolv in 2013 and most recently, Echodyne in 2014.
  • IV has a dedicated team of more than 500 people worldwide and works with 11 of America’s top 50 inventors including Lowell Wood who recently surpassed Thomas Edison’s record of granted patents to become America’s most prolific inventor.
  • The company has more than 40,000 IP assets that cover more than 50 technology areas in active monetization providing financial compensation to deserving inventors, while providing licensees with access to great ideas. 

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Behind the Breakthrough: Mark Newell

Mark Newell’s work improves lives. As a portfolio deputy director with Global Good, he focuses on boosting agricultural productivity in some of the lowest resource areas on the planet. With a background in sustainable business and energy, as well as product consulting, Mark has a unique ability to study a challenge, detect the gaps, and identify potential solutions that will be useful and usable for those who need them most. 

Here are some of his reflections:

On his role at IV:

“I am currently focused on improving agricultural productivity in the developing world. The overwhelming majority of the world’s underprivileged are farmers, including somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of most African countries. My main job is to support agriculture – and look for opportunities to interrupt cycles of poverty – by increasing access to water and energy through the use of technology. This work inevitably leads to a lot of questions. For example, how do we support farmers who rely on seasonal rains gain access to water year-round? What are the systems that framer operates in and where are the leverage points? What are the technology gaps that contribute to these problems? Is there a role we can play in addressing these gaps? These are the questions I ask and attempt to answer every day.”

On the people he aims to help:

“I came to IV as a contractor to help manage the trials of the passive vaccine storage device. In that role, I spent some time in Senegal and Ethiopia and saw the positive benefits the device brought. I met children in the far northeastern corner of Ethiopia –where our device contributed to improving the vaccine coverage rate from 20% to over 80%.  That statistic means that many of these kids are alive today because we developed this technology. 

“That particular visit is one of the more meaningful experiences of my life.”

“Along the way, I also saw many other challenges people in the region were facing. In particular, community leaders would tell me how desperately they needed water solutions. Their biggest challenge – and threat to daily existence – is the lack of access to water. And I always think about this. They were asking me for help. This is one of the reasons why I’m so committed to the work we’re doing at Global Good.”

On the link between water access and other challenges:

“Beyond water, access to reliable energy and suitable sanitation are difficult challenges for underprivileged areas of the world. In the rich world, electric pumps solve many of these issues. But when electricity isn’t available, these same pumps offer little utility. That’s where we come in. We’re exploring solutions through the application of potentially state-of-the-art technologies that aren’t yet developed and commercialized. But it doesn’t stop there. We’re also looking into solutions for sanitation, hygiene, child nutrition, and more. These are not easy problems to solve, but success could mean better for lives for many people. That keeps me going.”

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog and following our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 

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Veteran Inventors: Protecting and Advancing Society

Veterans Day is a celebration to honor the men and women who have sacrificed – or currently sacrifice – so much for our protection. But protection isn’t their only specialty. As it turns out, quite a few American veterans were extraordinary inventors who developed novel technologies and greatly advanced society. For this Veterans Day, we’re highlighting some of history’s greatest veteran inventors and their world-changing contributions. 

Veteran Inventors: Protecting and Advancing Society

John Goodenough and the Lithium-Ion Battery

Many have never heard of WWII meteorologist turned inventor John Goodenough, but modern society would look very different without him. Cell phones, laptops, digital cameras and so much more depend on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. But when the batteries were first created, they had a tendency to explode. John Goodenough changed that. He and his team researched various chemical compounds and eventually found a stable combination known as cobalt oxide, which ultimately led to the cobalt-oxide cathode, the crucial component of today’s lithium-ion batteries. This discovery transformed numerous electronics, making it another example of the evolution of invention.

Sgt. Gary Walters and the Prosthesis Cooling System

After losing his leg from an exploded IED, U.S. Army Sgt. Gary Walters found that the limb-to-socket interface of his prosthetic limb often became hot, sweaty, and very uncomfortable. So Walters, along with eight others, created Leto Solutions and discovered a remedy: the Alquiloix™ Prosthesis Cooling System, which keeps the interface cool, dry and, comfortable. With so much utility, Walters built upon the legacy of inventors who create useful inventions for society’s benefit.

Laurens Hammond and the Hammond Organ

 Laurens Hammond, a World War I veteran, made quite his mark on popular culture with the aptly named Hammond electric organ. Manufactured in 1935 (and still in use today), this novel invention was seen as a stellar alternative to more expensive wind-driven pipe organs. When Jimmy Smith, the legendary jazz musician, hit the charts with the Hammond organ as his instrument, it became a cultural icon. But the organ isn’t the only thing that Hammond is known for. He also invented the Hammond electric clock and held 110 patents when he died in 1973.

Want to learn more about other impressive inventors? Check out our Behind the Breakthrough Series to hear what some of them have to say. 

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Advancing Society: Women and STEM

At IV, we recognize that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education can have life changing implications for students. And as IV president and COO Adriane Brown points out, the importance of STEM education for young women cannot be overstated. That’s exactly why we’re such huge fans of Marie Curie, the first female winner of the Nobel Prize. Her work led to the development of cancer treatments, advanced x-rays and so much more. 

Even as we approach her 148th birthday, Marie Curie’s story is an inspiration to young women who explore careers in STEM. But she’s not alone. With Curie’s incredible life and accomplishments in mind, we’d like to honor some of the other female STEM trailblazers whose work has changed our world and inspired generations.

Katharine Burr Blodgett

Becoming the first woman to receive a PhD in physics from Cambridge was just the beginning for Katharine Burr Blodgett. After being hired by General Electric (GE), she invented low-reflective “invisible” glass, which improved everything from cinematography to airplane spy cameras and submarine periscopes. The invention was so groundbreaking that the first movie to use the technology, Gone with the Wind, was widely praised for its almost crystal-clear look.

Ann Tsukamoto

For years, scientists have theorized that human stem cells could be used to save millions of lives. But isolating the stem cells was critical to develop further research – and no one could figure out how to do it. That’s where Ann Tsukamoto came in. Tsukamoto was critical in discovering the method to isolate human stem cells and was a co-patentee of the process in 1991. Today, thanks in large part to Tsukamoto, stem cell research is advancing and has the potential to treat various cancers and other deadly diseases.

Stephanie Kwolek

Bulletproof vests save lives. But if it wasn’t for Stephanie Kwolek, they might not exist. Kwolek’s detailed research on long molecule chains eventually led her to the discovery of a very powerful liquid crystalline polymer solution. Ultimately, this research led to the development of Kevlar, a material that makes steel look flexible. In addition to its use in everyday items like skis and camping gear, Kevlar is critical for bulletproof vests – which can be a crucial aspect of protection for law enforcement and members of the military alike.

Gertrude B. Elion

Gertrude B. Elion was a biochemist and pharmacologist who greatly advanced the field of medicine. By studying the composition of diseased cells, she helped develop drugs that prevented viral infections and combatted diseases like leukemia, herpes and AIDS. In fact, Elion’s work was so successful that she received dozens of medicinal patents. She won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1988.

Looking for more inventing inspiration? Check out the advice our Behind the Breakthrough participants gave to young inventors.

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Move Over, Thomas Edison. Lowell Wood is Now America’s Most Prolific Inventor.

For more than a century now, the United States has been the most inventive nation in the world. And for the past century, the title of greatest—or in any case, most prolific—American inventor was held by Thomas Alva Edison. Most everyone knows that Edison invented the phonograph, the movie camera, and of course the incandescent light bulb, which to this day we still use as an icon to represent a bright new idea. Actually, Edison and his co-inventors came up with scores of different inventions for these things, as well as for better telephones and numerous ways to generate, transmit, and store electricity. They patented early and often. Between 1869 and 1933, Edison racked up an astonishing 1,084 U.S. utility patents, a record for American inventors that held for 82 years. Until now. 

This summer, Lowell Wood surpassed Thomas Edison’s record with the granting of Wood’s 1,085th patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office. To mark this very special occasion, our inventor-in-residence was recently profiled by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance, who noted of Lowell, “The scope of his inventions is insane… he’s just this guy who is compelled to solve problems and invent new ideas.”

As impressive as Lowell’s latest feat is, it’s not the half of it—literally. When Edison received his 1,084th patent, he had been dead for more than a year. Wood, in contrast, is only 74 and still going strong: he is named as inventor or co-inventor on about 2,500 U.S. patent applications that are currently pending, and he is still generating hundreds of new inventions each year. Some of the pending applications will be combined, and others will die before they are granted. So it seems almost certain that Wood will eventually double Edison’s record. It probably won’t even take that long: Wood now averages about one new U.S. patent granted every day of the week, so he could reach 2,186 by mid-2018—if the patent office can keep up with him!

Like Edison, Wood has mastered the art of invention, and his patents are of high quality. I know this because the great majority of his patents were developed in collaboration with Intellectual Ventures, so they have passed through the rigorous drafting and quality-control processes that have made us the global leader in the business of invention.

What’s the secret to being the nation’s most productive inventor? Well, it doesn’t hurt to start off by being one of its sharpest and most erudite physicists. But that’s not enough. Albert Einstein had only two U.S. utility patents, after all. The real secret, I believe, has three parts:

  1. Surround yourself with other really smart people who have wide-ranging backgrounds but are all focused on the same important problems that you are;
  2. Leave the legal work and dealings with the patent office to others; and
  3. Work at it every day.

IV helps Wood, and dozens of other inventors like him (well, approximately like him—Lowell is one of a kind) to succeed by giving them the environment, the team, and the support they need to focus on inventing. I and other technology heads host all-day “invention sessions” that accomplish that first goal. Many of these invention sessions include not only Lowell Wood but also his wife Yuki Ishikawa, who is the second most prolific female inventor in the U.S., and their daughter Victoria Wood, who at age 23 already has 323 U.S. patents and is on track to catch up with her parents.

Frankly, it is amazing how many truly novel and useful ideas can come out of these inventions sessions. But it’s also a crucial part of our work at Intellectual Ventures that those great ideas then move into a carefully crafted evaluation process, in which subject-matter experts work with patent agents and attorneys to figure out which ideas are patentable and then draft high-quality applications. Other teams shepherd those applications through the USPTO review process, package the resulting patents into portfolios that make sense to manufacturers and services providers, and license the technologies so that they make it to market and into our homes and businesses as quickly as possible.

Our system is really effective, which is why 11 of America’s top 50 inventors currently work with IV. In order of their U.S. utility patents granted (as of October 13), they are:

Just as Thomas Edison’s inventions shaped the 20th century, we believe that new ideas generated by Wood and other IV inventors are going to save lives and fundamentally change entire industries in the 21st century and beyond. We can already point to numerous examples in which this is happening.

Arktek – Example patent #8,215,835

Immunizations are one of the greatest success stories in modern medicine, yet roughly 1.5 million children still die needlessly each year from diseases that could be prevented by vaccination. Why aren’t all these kids vaccinated? One reason that vaccines go bad unless they are chilled to precise temperatures, something that is hard to do in places where infrastructure is sparse and electricity is unreliable. Using technology invented by Wood and others at IV, Arktek solves that problem by keeping vaccines and other medicines at the proper temperature for 30 days or more in the world’s hottest environments, without any need for external power.

Prevention and detection of malaria

In 2013, about 200 million people fell ill with malaria, and more than half a million died of the disease. Most of the fatalities were children; in Africa, a child dies every minute from malaria. Wood and the IV team have invented a number of methods to prevent, detect, and control this deadly mosquito-borne disease.

Photonic Fence (patent #8,705,017): Low-cost sensors and lasers are repurposed to make a “fence” of light beams that detects, tracks, identifies, and kills only targeted species of insects, such as mosquitos. The technology was developed as a tool to help eradicate malaria in developing countries, but it can also be used in richer parts of the word to protect people from mosquitos carrying West Nile virus or to shield citrus groves from fruit-destroying psyllids without the use of pesticides.

Fast, non-invasive diagnostics (patent #8,798,699): By scrutinizing the blood vessels in the retina, this technology can detect a malaria infection without the need to draw blood. It works in minutes rather than days.

Better laboratory detection of malaria (patent #8,504,129): The parasite that causes malaria produces crystals of a substance called hemozoin. This invention uses pulses of laser light to detect those crystals quickly and with high accuracy. Outfitting standard microscopes with such detectors could greatly improve malaria diagnostics.

Generating electricity from spent nuclear fuel – Example patent #7,860,207

Travelling-wave reactor (TWR) technology could deliver safe, affordable, reliable, and clean energy to a growing world. Developed by IV and commercialized by spinout TerraPower, the TWR will consume depleted uranium—a waste byproduct of current nuclear systems—as its main fuel. There is enough depleted uranium already stockpiled inside the U.S. for a fleet of TWRs to power every home in America for more than 700 years.

Field-emission heat engine – Example patent #8,575,842

People have tweaked and improved – but never replaced – the centuries-old steam turbine technology used to turn heat from oil, gas, coal, and nuclear power into electrical energy. This engine will bring improved electricity generation to the world.   

Metamaterials – Example patent #8,988,759

Many of the biggest breakthroughs in the 20th century were enabled by new materials, such as stainless steel, composites, and nylon and other plastics. We believe that in the 21st century, metamaterials will similarly prove to be game changers in many industries, starting with communications and imaging. Metamaterials are built up from active components, such as antennas and electronics, in such a way that the whole device takes on new properties.

IV has some of the world’s leading metamaterials experts on its invention team, which includes Lowell Wood and collaborators at Duke University. Their inventions already being developed by three spinout companies: Kymeta, Evolv, and Echodyne. This new class of artificial materials is already enabling rapid advances in smart and autonomous vehicles, security scanning and high-speed Internet communication at sea, in the air, and in space.

Power beaming – Example patent #7,786,419

We all would like to be able to power and charge our devices without being tethered to a wall socket. IV has invented systems for wirelessly distributing energy to multiple gadgets, even if they are moving. Our guard-beam technology guarantees safety by shutting off the power whenever any object wanders too close to the beam.

Protecting brains from explosions – Example patent #8,752,469

Too many American soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries from explosions. Nearly 330,000 such injuries have occurred since 2000. IV has invented a way to improve helmets and other body armor that reflects or deflects the shock waves from an explosive device away from a soldier’s body. Variations of this technology could also help protect athletes against concussions.

Thomas Edison once said, “I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.” Congratulations to Lowell Wood and the rest of the IV invention team. You have invented a LOT of things the world needs! 

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Evolution of Invention: Halloween Edition

A few weeks ago, we reminisced about the progress that technology underpinning cars, cell phones, and MP3 players has made. But the same kind of progress can be seen in some of the spectacular technology used to celebrate a modern Halloween. From fake blood, to fog machines and high-tech vampire teeth, check out the awesome evolution of Halloween technology.

From Dry Ice to Heat Exchangers: Making Fog

Since the first recorded appearance of dry ice – or frozen carbon dioxide – in 1835, people have been transfixed by its ability to go from solid to gas form. Due to its inherent simplicity, dry ice has been used to make fog for many years.

However, the quantity of dry ice required and the need to frequently replace it left the door open for technological advances. Modern fog machines use a heat exchanger to vaporize a mixture of glycol and water and create a sustained and thick opaque cloud.

Classic Hollywood Prop and Halloween Mainstay: Fake Blood

Fake blood plays a key role in cinematic and theatrical productions – and it’s something that the viewer hardly thinks about unless something about its color, viscosity or velocity is off.

Since Hitchcock and his make-up team relied on Bosco chocolate syrup for his gory scenes, imitation blood and gore has come a long way. For example check out this former NASA engineer’s beating heart costume that runs off of a cellphone app. 

Elevating the Ordinary: Retractable Fangs

Finally, check out these patents that make vast improvements on the simple mouthpiece that’s often the mainstay of a vampire costume: tooth caps and retractable fangs.

Have some other cool Halloween-related technology? Let us know at @IVInvents. 

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The Impact of Energy on Global Health

What does boosting sustainable energy access in the developing world have to do with improving global health? As it turns out, a lot.

The Impact of Energy on Global Health

Maurizio Vecchione, IV’s Senior Vice President of Global Good and Research, made this point strongly as he spoke recently to the second annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum on the Energy, Women and Children’s Health panel. Maurizio pointed out that Global Good, a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and IV to solve challenges in the developing world, works tirelessly not only to improve primary care and healthcare delivery, but also to enhance health technologies to run on low-resource or intermittent power.

Why is this important? Because energy will save lives. In just one minute, as Maurizio pointed out, 21 newborn children die around the world, in part because of a lack of access to oxygen. To help address this problem, Global Good is working to develop a more affordable oxygen concentrator that can run in low-resource areas to help more infants survive their first days.

The electricity issue is also drastically increasing rates of maternal mortality, particularly in cases of postpartum hemorrhaging. Postpartum hemorrhaging, the leading cause of maternal death, can usually be successfully treated with basic medication. But the medication requires refrigeration, and refrigeration in the developing world is typically powered by electricity. This is one of the many issues that Global Good’s passive storage device, Arktek™, addresses. Arktek can keep vaccines and drugs like oxytocin, medication often recommended to stop a hemorrhage, at the appropriate temperature for up to 35 days without power.

Global Good also conceived of the Arktek to help close the vaccination gap, a striking reality that leaves one in five children worldwide vulnerable to disease for which they could be immunized. By making vaccines available to areas with limited to no power, the device can start to break down at least one barrier to more widespread vaccination in developing countries.

Because lack of electricity is a widespread issue, Global Good is also focused on developing a solar-driven Arktek, low cost and effective screening tests for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a leading cause of cervical cancer, and improved power supply for electric coagulation devices for HPV treatment. Its work in all of these areas is currently featured as part of the Sustainable Energy for All Clean Energy is Life campaign, which aims to reduce mortality in the developing world through increased access to sustainable energy.

There is no doubt that progress has been made. But there is much work left to complete. For our part, Global Good will continue to work to improve technologies that save lives even when electricity is intermittent or entirely unavailable.

Want to learn more about Global Good? Check out its projects to mitigate disease threats, improve diagnostic testing, increase agricultural productivity, and so much more. And don’t forget to stay up to speed on the worldwide effort to improve energy access via the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All

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The Inventing Legacy of Alfred Nobel

New inventions and scientific advancement often occur in tandem. That’s why some of the most notable winners of the Nobel Prize – the prestigious award which honors annually the world’s top achievers in medicine, physics, chemistry, and other areas – have been pioneering inventors, or scientists whose discoveries inspired novel inventions.

The Inventing Legacy of Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel – the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite, held more than 350 patents, and after whom the Nobel Prize is named – would have turned 182 today. In his honor, we’re highlighting some of the breakthrough inventions and ideas that the Nobel Prize recognized for their capacity to advance human society.

Albert Einstein and Photoelectric Effect

Albert Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, a process where a metal emits electrons when shined with light. Understanding the photoelectric effect eventually led to the invention of numerous technologies that have made our lives more convenient and entertaining, such as television cameras, electrical remotes, digital cameras, and so much more.

William Campbell, Satoshi Omura, and Youyou Tu develop therapies against roundworm parasite infections

Parasitic infections take a huge toll on international public health. But three scientists awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine discovered medicines that have transformed treatment for diseases like malaria, river blindness, and filariasis. Specifically Dr. William Campbell and Dr. Satoshi Omura developed Avermectin, which has greatly reduced rates of filariasis and has almost eradicated river blindness, and Dr. Tu Youyou discovered Artemisinin, which is today a critical treatment for cases of malaria.

At IV, we’re also exploring ways to reduce the rates of parasitic infections such as malaria. We’ve developed a new malaria microscopy e-learning tool, built a low-cost and standalone optical diagnostic microscope, worked with experts to write a microscopy methods manual for malaria research, and continue to explore methods to zap parasite-bearing insects before they can inflict any damage.

Marie Curie and Radioactivity

Marie Curie was one of the most transformative scientists in history. In 1903, she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and she’s still the only woman to win the award twice. Throughout her career, Ms. Curie helped to develop a theory of radioactivity, found ways to isolate radioactive isotopes, and discovered two elements. Along with her husband, she was also instrumental in discovering that radiation had important medical benefits. Her research eventually helped to understand and refine x-rays, develop cancer treatments, and even reshaped some of the established physics and chemistry ideas of the epoch.

Want to learn more about the importance of invention? Check out our army of impressive inventors and don’t forget to follow our Behind the Breakthrough Series to hear quotes and advice from pioneering innovators. 

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Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan is IV's Founder and Chief Executive Officer.





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