Monday, November 26, 2007

Better World Through Research

Everyone has heard about the Bose speaker systems. Some of you also know that Bose Corp has invented the most effective suspension system for cars also. Person behind all these inventions is Prof. Amar Bose. A Bengali Indian American MIT professor, he's truly a great blend of a genius researcher and an entrepreneur with conviction. I was overwhelmed by reading about him some time back.


From Various websites:

About Audio Speakers:

Actually it started while doing graduate work at MIT in the 1950s, Dr. Bose decided to purchase a new stereo system. He was disappointed to find that speakers with impressive technical specifications failed to reproduce the realism of a live performance. He aimed to design a speaker that would emulate the symphony hall experience in the home. His speaker system was one of the first to make use of sound reflecting off walls and the ceiling.

About Car Suspension System:

For Bose, the search began with a question he asked himself several decades ago. “I wondered,” he told Popular Science magazine, “what a car suspension could do without hardware constraints, if you could have any force you wanted, at any time, between the body and the wheel.”

Bose focused on figuring out mathematically what kind of performance was theoretically possible. Five years of mathematical analysis revealed a tremendous performance gap.

Throughout his life, Amar Gopal Bose has had the avid curiosity of a child, the tenacity to follow it through, and the gumption to flout conventional thinking.

In 1980 he decided to work on it. As is his wont, he ignored the 100-year-old beaten track of automakers who had perfected fluid-based suspension hardware. He threw away the hardware model, and along with it the limitations.

His Teaching:

At his alma mater MIT, when he was hired to teach network theory, he threw away the syllabus and confronted his students with nine blackboards. He urged students to ask tough questions, expected section leaders to think out loud to illustrate the problem-solving process, abolished exam time limits and allowed open books.

William H. Brody, now the president of Johns Hopkins University, says of him: “He would walk into a lecture to 350 students, and you could hear a pin drop. He commanded a lot of respect, because of the force of his intellect and his total dedication to the students. His class gave me the courage to tackle high-risk problems; it equipped me with the problem-solving skills I needed to be successful in several careers. Amar Bose taught me how to think.”

On Bose Corporation:

At the end of the day it’s Bose’s way of thinking that remains such a unique gift: Simply put, it is just a wondrously dogged courage to chase an idea to its very limit. Bose Corporation may have a billion-dollar turnover, but Bose says he started the company to chase ideas, not make money.

“I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBAs,” he told Popular Science magazine. “But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.”

So number crunchers’ myopic obsession with the bottom line was out, a commitment to pure research was in.

Bose says it’s the principle of allowing bright minds to search for answers that was more important to him

Popular Science, in a long, admiring essay, sums it up best about the merit of Amar Bose’s mindset and contribution.

“The value of Amar Bose—and by extension, his company—isn’t so much in the things he has invented, but in the sense of possibility he inspires,” the magazine wrote. “Bose reminds us that we could all afford to be much more skyward-looking, far-fetched and curious, and that we could all believe more strongly in our own potential to create.”


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