We Jews have distinguished ourselves in practically every field of human endeavor. Yes, apparently we'll go all out to do just about anything to gain parental approval. Okay, I'll speak for myself. But nowhere is the achievement of the Jewish people as important, remarkable and wide-ranging as in the area of inventions. So, in this month when some people celebrate love, let's reserve a little of our love for the amazing inventors who have enriched mankind and brought honor to the Jewish people. This is a brief survey of the multitude of Jewish inventors throughout history. If I've left any of you out, I apologize; please deal with it in therapy.
Let's give some love to the amazing Jewish inventors who have enriched mankindMax Fleischer
(July 19, 1883 – September 11, 1972) was an important Jewish-American pioneer in the development of the animated cartoon who served as the head of Fleischer Studios. He brought such characters as Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, Popeye, and Superman to the movie screen. Okay, so maybe he wasn't an intellectual, but then again, very few philosophers and physicists make great subjects for cartoons – with the exception, of course, of Friedrich Nietzsche and Shin-Ichiro Tomonaga, but I digress. Fleischer was responsible for a number of technological innovations including a concept to simplify the process of animating movement by tracing frames of live action film. His patent for the Rotoscope was granted in 1915, although Max and his brother Dave Fleischer made their first cartoon using the device in 1914. Extensive use of this technique was made in Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell series for the first five years of the series, which started in 1919 and starred Koko the Clown and Fitz the dog – perhaps Americanized from the original Shlomo the Clown and Yitzchak the dog.
Robert S. Langer
(born August 29, 1948 in Albany, New York) is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a distinguished and highly regarded researcher in biotechnology, especially in the fields of drug delivery systems and tissue engineering. I knew someone in college skilled in drug delivery systems, but he rightfully ended up arrested and kicked out of school. Langer's contributions to medicine and the emerging fields of biotechnology are highly recognized and respected around the world. He is considered a pioneer of many new technologies, including transdermal delivery systems, which allow the administration of drugs or extraction of analytes from the body through the skin without needles or other invasive methods. Sounds like a Penn & Teller magic trick without the Vegas cover charge. He and the researchers in his lab have also made significant advances in tissue engineering, such as the creation of vascularized engineered muscle tissue and engineered blood vessels. Langer holds more than 600 granted or pending patents and has authored more than 1,000 scientific papers. Langer's mother must be beside herself. Langer is also the youngest person in history (at 43) to be elected to all three American science academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. Showoff.
Gertrude Belle Elion
(January 23, 1918 – February 21, 1999) was an American biochemist and pharmacologist, and a 1988 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. But she apparently had lousy luck on Jdate. Working alone as well as with George H. Hitchings, Elion developed a multitude of new drugs, using innovative research methods that would later lead to the development of the AIDS drug AZT. Rather than relying on trial-and-error, Elion and Hitchings used the differences in biochemistry between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents) to design drugs that could kill or inhibit the reproduction of particular pathogens without harming the host cells. She was also a laugh riot at cocktail parties. Other awards include the National Medal of Science (1991) and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award (1997). In 1991 she became the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the last woman ever to have been named "Gertrude."
She became the last woman ever to have been named "Gertrude."
Jonas Edward Salk
(October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995) was an American biologist and physician best known for the research and development of a killed-virus polio vaccine, the eponymous Salk vaccine – and less well known for his ability to juggle matzoh balls while singing folk songs in Yiddish. Salk's vaccine was instrumental in beginning the eradication of polio, a disease once almost as widely feared as my Aunt Sylvia's brick-hard noodle kugel. Polio epidemics in 1916 left about 6000 dead and 27,000 paralyzed in the United States. In 1952, 57,628 cases were recorded in the U.S. After the vaccine became available, polio cases in the U.S. dropped by 85-90 percent in only two years. Consequently, Salk found himself unemployed and spent the rest of his life working at the counter of his local Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, where he was instrumental in eradicating Mad Chicken Disease.
Stanford R. Ovshinsky
(born November 24, 1922) is an American inventor and scientist who has been granted approximately 400 patents over the last fifty years, mostly in the areas of energy or information. "Ovshinsky" is Polish for "over-achiever." Many of his inventions have come to play central roles in modern society. Among the most prominent are: his environmentally friendly nickel-metal-hydride battery, which has been widely used in laptop computers, digital cameras, cell phones, and electric and hybrid cars; continuous web multi-junction flexible thin-film solar energy panels; flat screen liquid crystal displays; rewritable CD and DVD computer memories; hydrogen fuel cells; and nonvolatile phase-change electronic memories. Anyone who ever asked Ovshinsky "What are you up to?" found himself on the receiving end of a 25-minute summary of the inventor's latest projects. Sadly, after that, the person learned to only make declarative statements and never ask Ovshinsky what's up. Ovshinsky opened the scientific field of amorphous and disordered materials in the course of his research in the 1940s and 50s in neurophysiology, neural disease, the nature of intelligence in mammals and machines, and cybernetics. Yet his favorite publications to read were "MAD Magazine" and "High Times." Ovshinsky is also distinguished in being self-taught, without formal college or graduate training. In fact, he had to ask himself to the prom.