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Millennium Technology Prize Awarded to LED Creator 64

mapkinase writes "This year's Millennium Technology Prize was awarded to Prof. Nakamura of Japan, for invention of white, blue and green light emitting diodes." From the article: "His other inventions such as blue LEDs are used in flat-screen displays, while blue lasers are already being exploited in the next generation of DVD player. 'Professor Nakamura's technological innovations in the field of semiconductor materials and devices are groundbreaking,' said Jaakko Ihamuotila, chairman of the Millennium Prize Foundation. The Millennium Technology Prize is the world's largest technology award, equivalent to the Nobel Prizes for science. It recognizes technological developments that have a positive impact on quality of life and sustainable development."
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Millennium Technology Prize Awarded to LED Creator

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  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:31PM (#16072325)
    Why is it that every large prize (Fields medal, Millenium Prize etc.) is described as being equivalent to the Nobel Prize? When in fact it isn't?

    The Nobel Prize is occasionally awarded to technologists, or inventions by scientists that were not new science but rather applications. Jack Kilby's Nobel is a perfect example. The Millenium Technology Prize does not carry anything like the history or even the sensibility of the Nobel. For example how is the invention of HTML such a big deal? Compared to the work of a technologist like Norman Borlaug it is laughable.

    There isn't a Nobel for mathematics - one could make a pretty good case there should have been. But there is no 'equivalent' to the Nobel.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry .. but the Fields is Nobel equivalent. You have to make a real significant and standout contribution to mathematics before you can be awarded it. Do you know anything about mathematics??

      And yes and though not immediately .. the resulting math often drives technology. Would the world have any semblence of engineering or computational capability were it not for mathematics? No way in hell.
      • It isn't equivalent to the Nobel because you can still win a Nobel Prize after 40.
      • Just based on the provenance of the prize, its recognition, and the monetary value the Fields medal is not Nobel equivalent. And the rules are quite different. You have to be under age 40, and the medal is awarded for a body of work, not a particular result. The intent is rather different too - recognition to young contributors as an incentive. Fields medals also cannot be shared.

        My thesis advisor was awarded a shared Nobel at age 80 for a piece of work he did in his late 60's. Under the Fields rules he was
        • Come on. Your argument is based on unessential technicality. The truth of the matter is that Fields IS the top Mathematics prize, like Nobel in Physics IS the top Physics prize. And that is all to "equivalency".
    • by wakaranai ( 87059 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:45PM (#16072368)
      There have been a number of prizes offered, to try to make up for the missing mathematics Nobel... the Abel, Shaw and Crafoord Prizes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_prize#Lack_of_a _mathematics_prize [wikipedia.org]

      However, they don't appear to have captured the public or media's imagination, compared to the Nobel (or Fields)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 )
      For example how is the invention of HTML such a big deal?

      Thanks, you have neatly summed up the term "academic arrogance". I'm not going to argue that HTML is a particularly complex invention, but the impact of this simple idea is probably larger then the research of 95% of the Nobel prizes awarded in the last few decades. Oh no, TBL doesn't have a PhD, and sometimes worked in industry! Despite this, HTTP (even simpler than HTML, yet even more ubiquitous) and HTML evolved over years of his research and de
      • by morcego ( 260031 ) *
        HTML was not, by far, a new concept. It was just a new implementation of the hyperlinking methodology, which was in use before, ranging from simple things like product documentation to Gopher, which was the precursor of HTTP.

        Give any "inovation" award to the creation of the HTML show a lack of knowledge that should not exist on the academic field. Giving it a "commercial" award is ok, tho, so maybe it should be listed on PcMag or some other publication.
      • Thanks, you have neatly summed up the term "academic arrogance".

        Oh, a chip on one's shoulder, eh?

        but the impact of this simple idea is probably larger then the research of 95% of the Nobel prizes awarded in the last few decades. Oh no, TBL doesn't have a PhD, and sometimes worked in industry!

        There are a number of Nobel Laureates who have worked in industry, and don't have PhD's. Jack Kilby whom I gave as an example (disproving your academic arrogance theory BTW) is one such case. And yes, there are plenty o
        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )
          Oh, a chip on one's shoulder, eh?

          Yeah, that was a bit inflammatory... but...

          What is more he did it in a way that helped insure its wide adoption. But it NOT a fundamental contribution at a level deserving of Nobel recognition, or a prize touted as being equivalent to a Nobel Prize.

          That's funny, if you read Alfred Nobel's original grant and will, he was more concerned with ideas that "shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind". As I'm sure you know, it's not all physics and chemistry - scientist
      • I'm not going to argue that HTML is a particularly complex invention, but the impact of this simple idea is probably larger then the research of 95% of the Nobel prizes awarded in the last few decades.

        You're missing the point, by a long way. While it is true that HTML has been a critical part of something that has had a vast impact, HTML itself is nothing special. If it had not been invented then something else would have been used. Several vaguely similar things already existed at the time, any of which co

      • I'm not going to argue that HTML is a particularly complex invention, but the impact of this simple idea is probably larger then the research of 95% of the Nobel prizes awarded in the last few decades.

        The "idea" you're so excited about, is the idea of a markup language, and links, which existed LONG before HTML.

        You might as well grant an award for the format of the Apache config file... It probably took years to reach it's current form, and has significant impact on the world...

        Would it be too blatantly ob

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )
          The "idea" you're so excited about, is the idea of a markup language, and links, which existed LONG before HTML.

          Honestly HTML (and moreover XML) annoys me. But it's damn popular, and it works. Of course markup languages have existed before HTML. TBL was in fact experimenting with markup languages 25 years ago. I'm sure someone else was thinking about it well before that. So what?

          The format happens to be HTML, but HTML didn't enable the process, or the technology to do it... any more than the PNG image
          • I'm sure someone else was thinking about it well before that. So what?

            So it's not the revolutionary concept you claim. It's just a particular implementation that happened to become popular. He deserves credit for the accomplishment, but it's about as worthy of a major award as somebody who modified their car to get better gas mileage...

            To be honest, the more important concept was HTTP. Another dead simple implementation. But neither you nor I came up with it, he did.

            Gopher had most of the functionality of

    • Seems that crop development continues, and that maize and rice each have more world tonnage than wheat now. You might notice here at this page link that there are now databases involved, and collaboration, maybe even HTML is involved as a part of a key communication tool, to interrogate and update the database. Do you think?

      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-01/irr i-cde012406.php [eurekalert.org]
    • by nyri ( 132206 )
      Why is it that every large prize (Fields medal, Millenium Prize etc.) is described as being equivalent to the Nobel Prize?

      Fields medal comes with monetary award of C$15,000. It's not a "large price".
    • For example how is the invention of HTML such a big deal?


      Ponder upon that the next time you write a response to Slashdot.

    • Well it isn't the Nobel, and there isn't all the stuffiness, politics and rules.

      Still, this is a forum that gives the industry a way of acknowledging key contributions. What's wrong with that?

    • Instead of complaining that the Millenium prize is equivalent to the Nobel prize, complain that the US universities are not turning out students who are of the caliber to do fundamental research, or to be innovative.

      Learning to think outside the box is a cultural attribute. It is time to think innovation, and the rest will follow
  • by lhpineapple ( 468516 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:50PM (#16072382)
    the buffer layer technique was first published by Theodore Moustakas and remains his intellectual property.

    Linky [bu.edu]

    I wish more people knew this. He's one of the best professors I've ever had and a hell of a nice guy.
  • A correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by edward.virtually@pob ( 6854 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:10PM (#16072432)
    As this is the second time I've read the false claim that Professor Nakamura invented green leds -- green leds having existed since the 70s -- I looked into it and discovered it's another case of sloppy (read inaccurate) reporting. He invented the GaN-based green led, not green leds in general. Technical reporters need to stop omitting words because they're too ignorant to know they're important. I can only guess how many people are now misinformed as a result of said sloppy reporting. Grumble.

  • I'm not really a nerd or geek (I'm not technical enough), but blue LEDs are awesome to me for some reason. And I've shown the story of their discovery/creation/invention/whatever to many people, some of whom are absolutely not nerds or geeks, and nearly all of them have enjoyed it.

    Good show.
  • When I first read the title I though it was this computer dictionary :-D
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hats off to him - He did what people said couldn't be done, and he did it through perseverence and dogged determination and years of hard work. Also, the company he worked for was just a little manufacturer - all the big companies out there wouldn't bother to pursue this, but this little company gambled on him and now they are reaping the benefits.
    • but he didn't like his old company. They reaped TONS of money off of his invention, and basically give him jack shit(merit based pay in Japan is a relatively new concept and still not very popular) so he left said company and went to the states to work for UC Santa Barbara....
  • From the original journal entry [slashdot.org]:
    Good first two choices. Nowadays when there are fewer and fewer real developments of the real basic science, this prize would eventually eclipse the Nobel Prize in its coverage and popularity.
    (First Prize winner was Tim Berners Lee, BTW).
  • He gets one million euros, eh? So why is it that sports players get many times that, some for just sitting on the bench?
  • Saw him lecture once (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rjforster ( 2130 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @04:57PM (#16072816) Journal
    I did a PhD at Strathclyde Uni in Glasgow, Scotland[1]

    Shuji gave a coloquia lecture there once, must have been 1998 or 1999. It was just amazing. Given that I was in the photonics department, everyone knew what a bright LED was supposed to look like. Shuji came in, told us about the science in a 'doh, it was so obvious now you tell me' kind of way, then he showed us the toys.
    The LEDs he connected up to his little pen sized battery unit and shone into the audience. Blues, Greens, Violets[2], Whites etc. They were really bright.
    Then he connected up the laser diodes. He shone those onto a piece of white card he held[3] and F**k me but they were bright.

    [1] The bit to the north of England.
    [2] The kind of colour you can't really focus on, really weird, hard to describe.
    [3] We only have mortal retinas after all.
    • by dmayle ( 200765 ) *

      Off topic, I know, but it might be interesting...

      [2] The kind of colour you can't really focus on, really weird, hard to describe.

      I'd imagine after that sentence that you wear contact lenses. It took me forever to realise this, because I always thought it was everyone, but one day I had a problem with one of my lenses, took it out, and suddenly I could focus just fine on one of those violet displays. Turns out, my contect lenses (like many others) have UV filters in them, and so anything thet lets out

      • by rjforster ( 2130 )
        > I'd imagine after that sentence that you wear contact lenses.
        Nope. My eyesight is pretty good. Better than 20/20 last time it was tested (which was after my PhD).

        I could be completely wrong but I think the effect is because we don't have many blue cones in our retinas so we can't easily spacially resolve points of blue light, hence blue LEDs look a little fuzzy but other colours look like points. Blue light is detected a little by the green cones so we don't have too much of a problem with blue itself,
  • The blue LED is one of the worst inventions ever. It's getting harder and harder to buy computer peripherals, audio equipment, and other devices that aren't festooned with the damn things. It's become a manufacturer's way of saying "my product is cool!"

    Why do I want my indicator lights to illuminate the whole damn room? They are extremely uncomfortable to look at, and too bright for purpose they are used for. I want an indicator light to discreetly notify me of the status of my equipment. Not blind me. Is t

    • Okay blue LEDs aren't so bad, it's all the designers sticking them in their products. One thing I really don't like is the tendancy to stick bright blue LEDs in car audio equipment. Hindering a driver's night vision is not a good idea at all. You'll notice that even the old dashboards, controls, and radios that were backlit by incandescent bulbs normally used subdued green, yellow, or orange, and this applied for digital dashboards as well. I do wonder how many people have blue speedometers now.

    • Shit dude, two words for you: Electrical Tape.
      • But then I lose the functionality of my indicator lights. It is useful to know the status of a device, or if it has power. But I don't want to be blinded or distracted by them. Indicators are supposed to be useful - and as you imply yourself, because of the abuse of blue LEDs by manufacturers, we lose useful functions, or have to put up with garish glaring death rays everywhere.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Efil ( 1001539 )
      You're complain is not in anyway related to the invention of the BLUE LED. The blue LED is not invented just to be an indicator lights, man they are too expensive just for that purpose.
      • The blue LED is not invented just to be an indicator lights, man they are too expensive just for that purpose.

        So, then why do manufacturers of cheap equipment put them all over the place? Even I can buy them for a few cents each if I buy direct from Asia. I agree that the blue LED has other worthwhile uses, but the misuse of them outweighs any good purposes they might be used for. At the moment, 95% of blue LEDs seem to be used to annoy users.

    • by linoleo ( 718385 )
      Amen. Add to the gripe list the travesty of making the friggin things pulse and flicker merrily to indicate... sleep mode. These days both my socks are doing night duty as blackout covers for the pointless lightshow on my Mac and cell phone, respectively.
  • LEDs are the most important part of all electronics, especially blue ones :)

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