Incremental innovation

Carl Franzen describes how scientists captured the first picture of atoms vibrating in a molecule.

What caught my eye was that the technique used has been around for some years.

Blaga said that the team’s main innovation — and the reason why nobody had achieved such a view of atomic vibrations before — was overcoming the molecule’s electrical field, which would block out any imagery of the scattering. Blaga told TPM that the team was able to address this problem by using laser pulses in the mid-infrared range, rather than the near or far range.

My hunch is when people talk about innovation, they have a narrative of big leaps and miss that much of the time it’s a case of really valuing what’s already known and then making one small step further.

It’s a less heroic story.

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