If a single life exemplifies the inner drive that fires a great inventor, it is the life of Edwin Land. The major innovations that he was able to achieve in photography, optics, industry, and science policy carry priceless lessons for readers today.Insisting on the Impossible is the first full-scale biography of this Magellan of modern technology. Victor McElheny reveals the startling scope and dating spirit of Land's scientific and entrepreneurial genius. Second only to Edison in the number of patents he received (535), Land build a modest enterprise into a gigantic "invention factory," turning out not only polarizers and the first instant cameras, but also high-speed and X-ray film, identification systems, 3-D and instant movies, and military devices for night vision and aerial reconnaissance. As a scientist, Land developed a new theory of colour vision as a science advisor to Eisenhower during the Cold War he spearheaded the development of the U-2 spyplane and helped design NASA.Behind these protean achievements was a relentless curiosity, a magical public presence, and a willful optimism that drew him again and again to conquer "the impossible." In an era when these qualities are needed more than ever, this masterly biography will speak to anyone involved or interested in business, science, photography, educational reform of government.
Victor K. McElheny has been covering an age of technology and science for four decades, for newspapers (including The New York Times as its technology reporter), magazines (including Science as its first overseas correspondent), and television (including the BBC in London and WGBH-TV in Boston). He also was inaugural director of the Banbury centre of Cold Spring Harbor labouratory. His thirty-year quest of the biography of Edwin Land began in the White House on February 13, 1969, when Land received the National Medal of Science. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Victor McElheny founded, and directed for over sixteen years, the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships.
An Inventor Is Born * Noontime * Self-Taught Boyhood * First Happiest Moment: Polarizer * Start-Up * Going Public Detroit And Hollywood * Headlight Glare * Three Dimensions World War II * The Best Damn Goggles in the World * Who Can Object to Such Monopolies? New Photography, New Science * Sepia in a Minute * A Whole New Industry * Black-and-White: Mero Morse * Instant Color: Howard Rogers * Color Vision Secret Statesman: Cold War * U-2 Spy Plane * The Shock of Sputnik * Spy Satellites Grand Scale: SX-70 * Demonstrating a New Medium * Collaborators * Selling SX-70 Exit From Polaroid * Crisis * Instant Movies * Too Late Evening * Polaroid vs. Kodak * Prosperos Island