Particle Physics Resurrects Alexander Graham Bell’s Voice

It takes some doing to extract sound from an 1885 wax disc

5 min read
Photo of a wax disc recording from 1885.
Photo: Division of Work & Industry/National Museum of American History/Smithsonian Institution

imgHear My Voice: This 1885 disc contains the only known recording of Alexander Graham Bell’s voice.Photo: Division of Work & Industry/National Museum of American History/Smithsonian Institution

In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell decided to go head-to-head with Thomas Edison. His goal: improving—and commercializing—the phonograph. Bell established the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., using prize money he’d received from the French government for his invention of the telephone. He hired his cousin, chemist Chichester Bell, and instrument maker Charles Sumner Tainter. Collectively known as the Volta Laboratory Associates, the three men spent the next five years researching the transmission and recording of sound.

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The Godfather of South Korea’s Chip Industry

How Kim Choong-Ki helped the nation become a semiconductor superpower

15 min read
A man in a dark suit, bald with some grey hair, leans against a shiny blue wall, in which he is reflected.

Kim Choong-Ki, now an emeritus professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was the first professor in South Korea to systematically teach semiconductor engineering.

Korea Academy of Science and Technology
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They were called “Kim’s Mafia.” Kim Choong-Ki himself wouldn’t have put it that way. But it was true what semiconductor engineers in South Korea whispered about his former students: They were everywhere.

Starting in the mid-1980s, as chip manufacturing in the country accelerated, engineers who had studied under Kim at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) assumed top posts in the industry as well as coveted positions teaching or researching semiconductors at universities and government institutes. By the beginning of the 21st century, South Korea had become a dominant power in the global semiconductor market, meeting more than 60 percent of international demand for memory chips alone. Around the world, many of Kim’s protégés were lauded for their brilliant success in transforming the economy of a nation that had just started assembling radio sets in 1959 and was fabricating outdated memory chips in the early ’80s.

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