“Blip to Breakthrough” was written for the Daily Beast in support of the National Geographic Channel’s Breakthrough series.
Progress is mostly a series of blips appearing on a screen in the half-darkened room of science. Periodically, one of these blips – or a collection of them – leaps off-screen and shouts for attention. It’s a special moment. Malcolm Gladwell might call that instant a tipping point. For math types, it’s an inflection point. The late Thomas Kuhn called it a paradigm shift.
Whichever name you prefer, it’s clear we’re living in an amazing time for innovations that would’ve seemed like science fiction even ten years ago. In other words, we’re living through untold numbers of the moment so many scientists spend their whole lives working toward — the breakthrough.