One thing everyone can agree on: Every single day, we’re all getting older.
But we don’t have to let that indisputable fact stop us from doing what we want to do.
I just came across a spectacular example of a 96-year-old scientist who keeps on going and going and going….
By sheer coincidence, he’s a man who’s worked for decades in the field of battery speed and capacity. And he’s very much more than good enough to serve as an astounding example of enduring optimism and hard work.
A Wall Street Journal story in August profiled John Goodenough, who helped invent the lithium-ion battery that’s used to recharge cell phones and a host of other electronic products. By introducing lithium cobalt oxide to the inner workings of batteries in 1980, he made batteries not only more powerful but also more portable.
At age 96, he now wants to kill off his own creation by removing the cobalt that allowed his battery to charge faster and last longer. In April 2018, he and three co-authors published research that may lead to a new battery that’s liquid-free and cobalt-free.
Initial research shows that the new battery could potentially double the energy density of the lithium-ion battery. That would mean that an electric car, for example, could drive twice as far on one charge.
“My mission is to try to see if I can transform the battery world before I die,” Dr. Goodenough says. He added that he has no plans to retire. “When I’m no longer able to drive and I’m forced to go into a nursing home, then I suppose I will be retiring.”
Goodenough works in an untidy office at the University of Texas in Austin, where he’s a professor of engineering. He begins work between 8 and 8:30 a.m., leaves around 6 p.m., and works from home throughout the weekend.
He hand-writes his research and doesn’t own a cell phone, rejecting the mobile technology that his batteries made possible. His car is a 10-year-old Honda that he hopes will last as long as he does.
His motivation is to help electric cars wean society off its dependence on the combustion engine, like the one in his Honda.
“He is driven by scientific curiosity, and he really wants to do something for society with the science he does,” says one of his colleagues, another engineering professor at UT, Arumugam Manthiram.
Isn’t it heartening to come across someone like John Goodenough, a remarkable human being who refuses to quit?
His story energizes me. Although I’m considerably younger than Goodenough, it encourages me to pursue my passions no matter how old I get.
Does his story energize you, too?
[This blog post is somewhat shorter than usual because I’m currently in the midst of publishing my third novel, RED DIANA. I’m hoping it will be available soon at bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.com.]
How wonderful to hear of another person who is a golden oldie. Still inspired and still learning and still giving back. Every time I think of retiring from my current job of helping immigrants, mostly to become citizens of the United States, I get testy and depressed. I don’t know what I would do with my days if I were to quit. I have hobbies and new ventures I want to devote more time to, but those just don’t seem to be enough. What plagues my thinking is the attitude out there that old people are useless and not good for anything. Already modern times have made me fear this marching towards irrelevance. Depresses me at times, so I guess I will just keep going as long as I can, asserting my relevance and trying to keep up as the changes come faster and faster.
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Office of New Americans
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This is so inspiring! Thanks for this post. I recently heard a talk by a remarkable 97-year-old, who talked about how she, too, has kept going – she attributes much of her ability to stay current with living in “the now.” I love to see examples of people who keep up with their research, their interests, their curiosity, remaining vital as they approach 100!