Lillian Hoddeson and Peter Garrett discuss the life and legacy of scientist and inventor Stan Ovshinsky.
Stanford R. Ovshinsky’s name isn’t as well known as it should be, though readers of the Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies have already learned something about his work. Yet even if his name still isn’t widely known, Ovshinsky’s energy and information inventions have become familiar parts of contemporary life. Leading examples include nickel–metal hydride batteries (the basis of many hybrid cars), thin-film solar panels, rewritable CDs and DVDs, and phase-change memory (the basis for the latest advance in computer technology). Almost as remarkable as these achievements are the social motivations behind Ovshinsky’s work, particularly his early commitment to clean energy technologies, and the fact that he accomplished so much without any formal education past high school.