Bell Labs: Over and out

By Jeff Hecht “YOU don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell a generation ago. That lyric should resonate with many physical scientists who over the past few weeks have been lamenting the fall of Bell Labs in New Jersey, formerly the world’s premier industrial research laboratory. Its star has been fading for two decades, but the knock-out blow came at the end of last year, when the merger of Bell Labs’ parent company Lucent Technologies with French company Alcatel subsumed Bell’s shrunken remains into the “Alcatel-Lucent research community”. The Bell Labs name remains,
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