I suppose there must have been a moment in the post-war world in which the thermionic valve was King when a scientist playing with silicon crystals caught a glimpse of the future. Airships powered by silicon engines, perhaps, or wrist-televisions with silicon crystal screens. I doubt that anyone would have predicted that when paired with the transistor these silicon chips would become so ubiquitous as to be found even in posh birthday cards. My first wireless as a boy was a Phillips with clunky piano-key buttons and a proper tiller-wheel tuner with little ropes behind the illuminated spectrum dial; the joy was watching the half-dozen valves warm up, glow orange and then produce the most gloriously mellow and warm tones from the small 4W speaker. Quality of sound apart, the job can now be done by something the size of a shirt stud.
The Indie's lead piece on Graphene today must echo the wildest of the speculations about Silicon in the early days. We know that the eventual applications will be miles removed from those we imagine, and that it may need a second, complementary development to realise the material's potential. Yet this story remains a small beacon of light in the November gloom - the glory of pure science, open, transparent, friendly as a Labrador and filled with hope. If there is a positive reason for thanksgiving today, this is it.