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Jack St Claire Kilby

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  • Quentin Wilson
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2000
      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.

      Quentin,
      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
      our world.
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