In what has to be one of the most shocking revelations in recent history for the Nobel Peace Prize when the actual inventor of fiber optic did not receive the award but another scientist did.
In 2009, Charles Kuen Kao from Shanghai received the Nobel Prize for Physics in the field of fibre-optics communication.
The citation of Charles Kuen Kao for the prize reads:
“In 1966, Charles K. Kao made a discovery that led to a breakthrough in fibre optics. He carefully calculated how to transmit light over long distances via optical glass fibres. With a fibre of purest glass, it would be possible to transmit light signals over 100 kilometres, compared to only 20 meters for the fibres available in the 1960s,” says the citation to his 2009 Nobel Prize award.
However, the man who actually invented the fiber optics cable Narinder Singh Kapany 12 years prior was overlooked. Charles Kao basically took the fiber optics and transmitted text, image, and video instantly.
Many Indian scientists believer that the true father of the fiber optic cable should have received the award because had he not invented the cable Charles Kao would’ve not been able to do work with the cable.
When the award was given to Kao by the Nobel Committee Dr. Kapany responded in India Today:
“What can you say about this. It is known that Prof Kao started work in this field many years after me. He faced competition too. I don’t think there should be any controversy about it. It is up to the Swedish Academy to decide. They have used whatever criteria they wanted to use.” he said.
A book written in 2003 book titled “Sand to Silicon: The Amazing Story of Digital Technology” the author Shivanand Kanavi wrote on the controversy:
“In any discovery or invention, many people play a role, and it would be wrong to say only one person did all the work. However, some people play a crucial role and show the way for further research. In the case of fibre optics, Kapany played such a critical role. There were others who had realised that glass cylinders or fibres could be used to transmit light, but Kapany was more successful than anybody else in solving the problems involved and scientifically demonstrating the same,” Kanavi says in his book.
Many people in the science community felt Dr. Kapany got robbed of the Nobel Prize and that Kao should have shared the award.
For further reading see: Ignored For the Nobel Prize, This Unsung Scientist Is The Father Of Fibre Optics!