Is it fair to compare battery inventor and hydrogen, solar advocate Stanford Ovshinsky with Thomas Edison?

To list all of Stanford Ovshinsky's achievements would take half the storage on our server, but few environmentalists really know of him. Fifty years ago he envisioned a hydrogen economy and is the inventor of the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery that is utilized in hybrid vehicles. Many other inventions and innovations can be traced to his discoveries in amorphous materials used for energy generation or storage. His current efforts are based out a company called Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), which he created with his late wife to use science to solve the problems of society. In fact, Ovshinsky forsees ECD as the General Electric of the 21st century.

A story in the Financial Express is comparing the life and achievements of Ovshinsky to Thomas Edison. Both had humble beginnings; the 84-year-old Ovshinsky never went to college but was a voracious reader. One of Ovshinsky's most important contributions changed the way solar materials are made. Instead of manufacturing small batches, he envisioned a process where solar materials were manufactured by "the mile."

Despite losing money in almost all of its history, ECD continues to draw investors. As the company's leader, Ovshinsky is paid only 5 times higher than the average worker. At many companies the CEO gets 500 times. Ovshinsky is even a union member.

Among his goals are faster production of solar films and improving fuel-cell electrodes. Ovshinsky is clearly a leading inventor and intellectual of our times; but with so much media attention on personalities such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates it's unlikely Ovshinsky will get a Nobel Prize or "Person of the year." Maybe the question should be: Is it fair to compare Thomas Edison with Stanford Ovshinsky?

[Source: Financial Express]

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