Dr. Leon Cohen (City University of New York)
Mitchell Physics Building
College Station, Texas 77843-4242
"Noise'' had a glorious birth. While there were rumblings before 1905, it was Einstein's explanation of Brownian motion that started the field. His motivation was not the mere explanation of the erratic movement of pollen, but much bigger: that noise could establish the existence of atoms. Immediately after Einstein there was an incredible flurry of ideas of the most profound kind that continues to this day. Since Einstein did “something” important many fields now take credit for it with claims of "we did it first". But noise, considered by many as unwanted, and mistakenly defined as such by some, has little respectability. The term itself conjures up images of rejection. Yet, it is an idea that has served mankind in the most profound ways. It would be a dull gray world without noise. The story of noise is fascinating and while in its early stages its story was clearly told, its subsequent divergence into many fields has often resulted in a lack of understanding of its historical origins and development. We try to give it some justice. We discuss who did what, when, and why, and the historical misconceptions. But most importantly, we aim to show that the story of noise is an exciting story worth telling.
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