SHREWSBURY: RECONNECTING WITH BELL LABS

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It was Standing Room Only, when Jon Gertner came to the Green for a presentation on his book THE IDEA FACTORY: BELL LABS AND THE GREAT AGE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION…and on May 7, the author returns for an encore. (File photo by Trish Russoniello) 

In a 2012 feature that appeared here on redbankgreen, author Jon Gertner described Bell Labs as a facility that “operated like a national laboratory… a place that believed in the rich exchange of ideas.”

For his last appearance at a local library, the science, tech and business journalist found himself with an overflow crowd that forced a relocation to a municipal courthouse — where it was still an SRO affair. But then, Gertner’s The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation deals with some extraordinary subject matter — New Jersey’s (and Monmouth County’s) significant contributions to the ways in which information is collected, stored and transmitted in the 21st century, as well as Nobel-lauded work on the nature of the universe itself. And when the editor at Fast Company visits the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch on Wednesday evening, he’s sure to draw some extraordinary attendees — many of them with a connection to a place of which Fair Haven’s own Bob Lucky was quoted as saying, “We had these people who were bigger than life back then…we don’t seem to have them anymore.”

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The internationally renowned engineer and inventor was one of numerous Red Bank area people who played a part in the Bell Labs legacy (the late borough resident and “father of cellular telephony” Douglas H. Ring was another) — but even those of us who don’t have a Nobel medallion to flash at the door are welcome to attend the free 7 pm presentation; a celebration of a work that’s been named as one of the 101 Great Books on New Jersey, and another in the county library system’s events marking the Garden State’s 350th anniversary.

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