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Dane Morgan

In the United States, the start of 2014 marked the end of an era—the “death” of incandescent light bulbs. With a 135-year history, the incandescent light bulb was worked on, refined and improved by many great minds, inventors and scientists, and, most notably, popularized by Thomas Edison in 1879. Edison and fellow researchers tested nearly 1,600 different materials in a quest to find a long-lasting, cheap filament for light bulbs.

It’s the ultimate story of scientific discovery, isn’t it? An idea followed by trial and error, followed by more ideas and more trial and error. However, it may be a slightly romanticized version of how science works, at least today. The mad genius struck by otherworldly inspiration working tirelessly toward a solution for the problem that plagues their mind is being replaced by computers—and it’s helping speed innovation.

Dane Morgan (pictured above, photo by David Nevala), associate professor in materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, believes that wasn’t exactly the case then and, with the advent of computer modeling, certainly isn’t the case today.

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