Nashville -- Having "accidentally" discovered the light bulb of the future on his first try, Vanderbilt graduate student Michael Bowers tried an additional 1300 ways to construct his breakthrough "bulb" which consists of a blue LED coated with "microdots." "My engineering advisor always quoted Edison's statement that "Invention was 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. I happened to get the inspiration part first, I guess."
To avoid "shortchanging" engineers world-wide, and making a fool out of Edison, who really should have given up after a couple hundred failures, Bowers was forced by Vanderbilt professors to try making his microdots bigger, smaller, coating them on regular light bulbs, halogen headlights, Maglites, even fireflies, which he dipped into epoxy and rolled around in the dots. "Imagine a tiny stadium billboard on a firefly." It didn't work. None of the other ideas worked either. "Thank god, or I'd still be in the lab."
But after successfully "learning 1300 ways NOT to make a next-generation light bulb" Bower's faculty advisor was forced to approve Bower's thesis. The "bulb" which has no filament to ever burn out, is expected to be 10-100x more efficient than traditional incandescent lights, and last as much as 50X longer. It also promises to put Vanderbilt on an equal economic footing as MIT, Harvard, Yale, and true "Ivy League" schools.
"We've been known as a "poison ivy league," university forever said Dean Bowman. Millionaire's, and even billionaire's kids who couldn't get into Harvard or Princeton traditionally came here, or went to Duke. But they seldom gave us the kind of endowments those schools got. With this new light bulb, we're gonna be rich! You can re-name West End "Vanderbilt West" right now! The Parthenon? That's going to be the new Bower Student Union Building!
Quantum dots: Michael Bowers, still working in a basement in the physics building after 7 years of study and more than $358,000 of his dad's money paid out in tuition, became enamored with "microdots" after watching an episode of James Bond. Using pilfered university equipment, and student labor paid only in beer, he managed to create a crystal resembling a tiny orange, which said "UT Sucks" written across it using 34 tiny atoms. When billions of them thrown at the visiting UT basketball team, nobody knew. But when the lights went down for the national anthem, and Bower pointed a laser pointer at the gym floor, the seemingly randomly scattered microdots spelled out a gigantic "UT Sucks" across the entire gymnasium floor.
Bowers thought he had it made, "Instant Masters, maybe even an honorary PhD. "That's what I thought," when Engineering Dean Rolf Ericcson, great, great granson of Alva Edison's cousin's wife, reminded him of the "Inspiration, Perspiration" rule. It may also be because Ericcson's family owns stock in Dial, makers of several brands of anti-perspirants.
Ericcson forced Bowers to "invent" 1299 other ways which didn't work. "Man, we tried some really stupid ones, too, like using a lemon for a battery."
After the UT-Sucks fiasco, for which Bowers was suspended from the school -- for four hours -- the student and school lawyers were whisked away on the school's Gulfstream IV and headed for the Washington DC patent office, completing the application en route."
"I was surprised to find out that I'll only get 1% of the proceeds of this novel new invention, said Bowers. But what's one percent of a gazillion dollars. I suppose can live on that."
Outside his home Bowers has already erected a life-size brass statue of Thomas Edison -- wearing a dunce cap."