History has witnessed many discoveries made almost simultaneously by competing scientists: Newton and Leibniz quarreled over who invented the mathematical system of calculus and even this year's mapping of the human genome was announced only after labored negotiations between two leading scientists. In his latest effort, the prolific Taylor (John Glenn; In Hitler's Shadow) recounts the compelling life of Gordon Gould, a young scientist who hit upon how to build a laser in 1957. Over the 30 years he spent fighting for the patent, he neither finished his Ph.D. nor attended conferences to raise his scientific credibility. During that time, he butted up against Charles Townes, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering the "optical maser," as he called it, even though courts later ruled against the U.S. patent office, arguing that Townes's original design wouldn't have worked.(Under U.S. patent law, an inventor need not reach the patent office first to claim a patent, but only show priority in writing down an idea that can be realized by someone skilled in that field. Gould fortunately had had his original notebook notarized.) In Taylor's hands, Gould comes across like a hapless figure from Greek tragedy, pursued unrelentingly by a malevolent deity until a kindly one, in his case the U.S. judicial system, takes pity. While Taylor's research is thorough (though one might quibble with the precision of some of his technical descriptions), he tends to overwrite. Still, science buffs who enjoy reading about the triumph of an underdog or a good legal battle will enjoy the book, while libraries will find it a worthwhile addition to their scientific biography collections. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Taylor's writing style makes the science of the laser, so ubiquitous now in modern science and medicine, understandable and fascinating in this account of one man's 30-year battle for recognition and compensation. In 1957, Gordon Gould, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, got side-tracked from his doctorate thesis when he became enamored with his discovery of the LASER: Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation. Gould also felt competitive pressure from colleagues on a similar scientific path. But a misunderstanding of patent law cost Gould his momentum, and he found himself in a battle for the rights after one of his professors claimed the discovery as his own. Gould's background as a dabbler in Communist organizations was used against him to deny his access to work on his own invention. Armed with notarized notebooks bearing the first conceptual drawings of a laser, Gould fought a 30-year, ultimately successful, battle for his rights. Taylor brings obvious appreciation for the drama of scientific discovery and the process of seeking credit for technological innovation to this fascinating true story. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's a good story about complex issues presented in a way that a lay person could understand. And the author does it well. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Henry Watsky
This book is about Gordon Gould, who was one of my father's clients when he was working on inventing lasers. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by ck
If you ever had a fantasy about being the first to invent something completely revolutionary, outside of a corporate setting, and then getting a patent and having the industry come... Read morePublished on October 25, 2005 by A_2007_reader