Jack St Claire Kilby
- Sorry to be so tangential about Jack Kilby. He had the Monolithic Idea in
about 1958 while working for Texas Instruments. He observed that silicon
sort of acted as a conductor, it sort of acted as a resistor, and it sort
of acted as a capacitor depending on local electrical conditions. Sort of
seemed good enough for something that would do all three things and so
silicon became the base for integrated circuits. He is considered by many
to be the world's greatest electrical engineer based on the Monolithic Idea
alone without regard to his other sixty or so patents.
Last Tuesday, it was announced that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize - I
think in Physics and shared with two others - but the news blurb went by
too fast and the reporters were having too much fun interviewing Jack at
age 76 in his bathrobe on his front porch. Without his hearing aids in
place he had missed the call at 2AM from the officials in Stockholm who
apparently don't adjust for time zones so he got the news from reporters.
About 10 years ago the Monolithic Idea was listed as one of the twenty
great ideas of the 20th century by a major magazine, perhaps TIME. The
Nobel Prize may have been slow to come since we are just beginning to feel
the incredible ramifications of the Idea and how important it is to humankind.
I guess I just thought we would all be overjoyed at the news since we are a
community of luminaries, poets, carpenters, architects, engineers,
homebuilders, snipers, and subsistence physicists brought together around
the warm hearth of the Monolithic Idea, otherwise known as chips,
computers, the Web, and super accurate wrist watches. To me, operating a
computer and cruising the Internet without having a grip on the Monolithic
Idea, is like driving a car without being able to discuss the Carnot Cycle.
Not knowing Jack Kilby is like not being able to tear down an automatic
transmission in twenty minutes while blindfolded.
First the Heisenberg Principle came along which lets us know that we really
don't get to know everything going on in the universe at the levels of
ultimate accuracy. Then the Monolith Idea encourages us to use things that
get the job done even if they don't work all that well. Sometimes we all
here at greenbuilt can beat a subject to gelatinous pulp leaving little to
work with. Heisenberg and Kilby free us up to move on with our lives. If a
frozen ham drives in the nail, skip looking for a hammer.
working on The Equation to defeat R-Value
I'm not kidding. I just went up to Los Almos and bought two books on
thermodynamics to brush up. Hint: dynamics is the key. R-Value is
determined by statics (steady state to be more accurate) which is not of