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Media Life: Invention with a quirky Auburn twist hits a milestone

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Media Life columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. He’s also a regular guest on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.” And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.

  

 

Perhaps a mere blip on the pop-culture radar to most folks. But a big jump in technology – with an Auburn twist – marks its 65th anniversary on Sunday.

It was on Dec. 16, 1947 that a group of Bell Labs researchers – probably working extra hard to get things done before Christmas – used a germanium crystal to devise an amplifier that upgraded an incoming signal a hundredfold. And thus the transistor was born.

Of interest to Auburn is an odd but lasting connection. William Shockley, along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, shared a Nobel Prize in 1956 for their discovery and the transistor became one of the most important early links in the high-tech world we live in today.

Shockley, however, pounded any goodwill earned from his achievement into dust in  subsequent years with his strident advocacy of long-debunked, racist views on intelligence and eugenics. Among his ideas was to pay people with IQs lower than 100 not to have children.

Shockley died in 1989 and while he never lived in Auburn, his family had held land in the Bowman area and streets were developed with his family’s name, including Shockley Road and Shockley Woods Court.

After Shockley’s widow died, 28 acres of wooded land off Shockley Road was left to the Auburn Recreation District. The major requirement was that the land be named “Nobel Laureate William B. Shockley and his wife Emmy Shockley Memorial Park.”

Since 2009, the parkland has been owned by the district. But, so far, the amount of baggage the name comes with has meant no sign is placed there, no naming ceremony has taken place, and a simmering controversy continues to cloud the property.

 

Win Rahlves for a day

For those who dream big and skiing is part of that dream, Placer County’s Sugar Bowl ski resort has the free offer of the year. All you have to do is get friendly with the Sugar Bowl site.

Here’s the deal. Olympic and World Cup speed skier Daron Rahlves, who happens to be a Truckee resident and Sugar Bowl “ski ambassador,” is offering an all-inclusive, one full day of fun and adventure with him.

Anyone “liking” Sugar Bowl’s Facebook page and submitting their e-mail address is entered after clicking the “Enter To Win” sweepstakes tab near the top of the page.

The dream day starts with breakfast with Rahlves at the Sugar Bowl lodge and then some morning laps with the champion skier.

“Any intermediate to advanced skier or snowboarder who dreams of having their best day in Tahoe should enter,” Rahlves says. “We’ll ski my favorite runs, exploring the mountain’s best spots.”

In the afternoon, the lucky winner will head out of bounds for fresh tracks with one of the resort’s backcountry guides. The finale will be a junket to the Sierra Vista Bar for some après-ski beverages and some reminiscing about “that perfect day when I was skiing with Daron Rahlves.”

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. He’s also a regular guest on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.” And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.