What Has Physics Ever Done for Us?
I'll admit, my tongue is stuck firmly in my cheek when I'm asking this question. We know that physics research has contributed immeasurable benefits to mankind. This is exactly what Alfred Nobel tried to celebrate when setting out his vision for the Nobel Prizes. However, in some cases, those benefits are more pronounced than in others. Consider the humble blue LED, the invention of which won Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. Its impact has been immense. The device was the final piece of the puzzle needed to replace old-school lighting – filament and fluorescent bulbs – with LEDs. No bigger than a nail, LEDs last 100 times longer than a filament bulb and use a fraction of the electricity. They are suitable for off-grid lighting systems powered by renewable energy while reducing both carbon emissions and electricity bills; Communities in remote or poor areas especially benefit. Here, the research had a well-defined goal, its impact