tv Today in Washington CSPAN May 2, 2012 2:00am-6:00am EDT
destroy and create a situation we make it a near certainty. but that is not who we are what they would expect out of us are what their neighbors would expect. we have some starts and stops but when i say do it right to carlos than have the institutions to provide for that, if you are asking me there is. . .
or as it's called in britain, stephen hawking, his life and work. some of you may or do you know how teens science well. and nearly everybody knows something about him as a person. his disability, his legendary courage, his unlikely celebrity and a few other great drummers about him well. but he's more than a legend or celebrity. he actually is a real person. and it has been my lack to get to know him just a little bit. i wouldn't claim or be inaccurate to say i know him well. in fact i think it might be inaccurate to say that within two or three people in the world does stephen hawking love. and even they have their doubts. the way he communicates through his computer companies in very
few beards, which it takes them along trying to produce means there's always something of a distance. he does thank you very much away. he says exactly what he wants to say and nomar. furthermore, he has no body language and his synthetic computer boys conveys no emotion whatsoever. when you're sitting with them, you often wonder whether he's telling a joke or not. but he does have facial expressions and the people who made that star trek episode where can have him playing a poker game would isaac neeson, albert einstein and "star trek" data. those people were amazed at the variety of his facial expression. which doesn't sound to me exactly like you would recommend itself at henley for a poker game, but after that i he impressed them with that.
his loss of about mobility sens fan, but he still has that great big wonderful grand. the history of my boat, this book started 18 months ago when bantam transferred, my publisher and great britain asked me to a data little book they had published back in 1991, 20 years ago called stephen hawking, a quest for a theory of everything. they publish that is a little paperback and have become a times bestseller in britain. what they wanted now was made to add and update chapter and changed the lopez said they could make it into an e-book, which had never been done before with this book. i began to work on it and soon realized that a little updating and a little tweaking of those earlier chapters really wasn't going to do it.
and i ended up writing a whole new book, which cannibalized steeled book. it's critical of him in some places, not completely complementary, but he did give his blessing to the writing of it. however, he did not have any control about what i said in it. i did let him redo the quarters and i passed by him are the quotations that would be used. so that is the only control you really had over a period is so much had happened since 1989, so much science, so much new3 material about relationships in his life, so much material about events in his life and before 1989 debate coverage, then kneeled book, but this had to be completely new book. the research with this book was not entirely unscientific paper, scientific journals, books, interviews, newspaper articles
in britain and america. my husband is an academic in his field is global studies, global economics, global history, everything to do with globalism. we have many friends that go on sabbatical is. during the 20 years since i wrote that first book about stephen hawking, all these friend sent me clippings about stephen hawking from all over the world and i'd throw them away in a box of last year i got out the box so that my bibliography includes things like the south china morning news, the west australian firm perry, hindu times, things like that. you might get the idea that kitty ferguson does exhaustive research on the world, but it's all thanks to the clippings and to mean. another slightly unorthodox stories with cambridge, england itself because my husband and i lived there for part of every here and now and we have been
going there ever since we first went down on sabbatical or cells in 1986. so we know that town well and we know a lot of people there. everywhere you go in cambridge, you encounter people who have little stories to tell about stephen hawking. unlike the people, the woman who cuts my hair have a relative who was working on a house in maltings lane when stephen hawking's wheelchair slipped on the ice and turned over. it's young man with the first to get to him and cover him with the jacket and call the emergency people. someone else had a mobile accident in the driver of the other car was jane hawking, stephen hawking's first wife. a lot of people at the college who were affiliated, clare hall, recalls kerry and stephen up and down the stairs therapy for the college had an elevator from what was called the astronomy
group at that time. all of these little incidents is not god said. vicious interesting little incidents. stephen hawking has lived in not time for 50 years and it is a small town. one challenge in writing this book was to be certain i was writing the book, "stephen hawking" and not a legend that stephen hawking. i think any biographer has an almost irresistible urge to fictionalize their subject. and i do wonder what i did because it's even more of a problem when it's historical subject here but there you get all the information and you do the best you can. when it's somebody that is still alive, you really have a certain obligation to them to make it a little more real and keep it a little more authentic. and i had the advantage of going
in fairly often to talk with him. not a lot, but occasionally when i did new book coming out ever taken a copy. if i was writing something i would ask him a question or go in for that purpose so through the years especially when i was writing this book, i was the him in person and i would think about what i had written about him and i would think, now, this isn't quite right. i've gone a little bit astray from the real stephen hawking. i fictionalized him a little bit. it is so easy to do. it's a choice of a word, tone of a paragraph. the urge to make something a little more germanic, a little more funny. so easy to do and so hard to resist. i also felt obliged to a large extent his own interpretation of himself and a way that she wouldn't do really an historical
figure. some of you have taken me to task for rating me to uncritical biography. what they would like is the biography that i might write 15 years after he died, when you really can step back and evaluate a person a little better than you can when you're still alive. but it is not uncritical. it is critical in places. as a matter of fact i wonder what he would think. you'd get very angry with writers and people or try to interpret his life. but there is no mushroom cloud over cambridge, england and my invitation to the 70th birthday party was not revoked, so i think a past master or else didn't read at all. now many of you know that i am not a mathematician or scientist by training, although science and mathematics have been part of my life since i was a small child. my degrees are in music for the juilliard school in and i'm very
often asked why at age 48 that i not only decided to put all that aside and start writing books and lecturing about science, science history for the popular market. for intelligent people who aren't science. we all hear there is somehow a connection between music and not mannix, but she does not been here for assigning to write a science book that i've heard of. some people is that perhaps juilliard had a really out candy physics department. that is not the reason. that is not it. i never took physics at juilliard, so i don't know. but was reading at reef history of time that was the watershed in my life. i did understand the book. i had to work at a little bit, but i understood it and i thoroughly enjoyed it. my husband is still mystified
remembering that he would watch me giggling while i bet it. but it is an enjoyable book and it's a lot of funny things the name. and i must've shared my enthusiasm for the science with my daughter, my 80-year-old daughter because she decided to do a science fair project on block holes. she went to the library came back with several books that were appropriate for her age and she also brought home the big lack book by mizner thorne and wheeler from gravitation. you know that book. now caitlin is very intelligent. she spoke grown up now and she's something of the ways in genetics and ideology, but at eight years old she was in a project he embarrassed a lot of the book she didn't understand. but we talked about it a lot and then we danced around the living room pretending we were photons than pretending we were particle
hairs centralized at the black hole and kaitlyn came up with an award-winning project. it was an award-winning project and i decided to write a book for children and young people her age and a little bit older about black holes. i have to as an aside mentioned that the physics conference that preceded stephen hawking's 70th birthday party in january i met charles missionmission, a new kempthorne and john wheeler knew him quite well, but i hadn't met charles smithson. and i'm conversation mentioned dancing around the living room pretending we were photons and he seemed delighted by that and he said, i think that is probably the only time that my book has been choreographed and i'm sure applies.
but anyway, i decided to write a children's book on black holes and not decision led to my first meeting with stephen hawking. it wasn't easy to get an appointment. i got in touch with my secretary, his personal assistant at that time and she kept saying i make an appointment to get back to you. this continued not to happen to the point where it became embarrassing to keep phoning her about it. and i decided to try and hammer on. i knew that he often worked late with this graduate assistant after nearly everyone else had left and i suspect did in the evening light pack, the phone that would normally just bring in her office to bring in his office so i gave that a try. sure enough the graduate assistant answered and he was right there with stephen hawking and i told him what i wanted and he said well, i'll ask stephen
and i get back to you. i thought well, guess that is the end of that. two minutes later he phoned back and he said stephen would be happy to help you if you want to come in tomorrow at 530. so this was quite interesting. one thing i had just been getting over the flu at that time period is afraid afraid of taking and germs that quit with your doctor the next morning to make sure it would be taken in a germs to stephen hawking. and i do remember this was affecting my voice, so i was talking like that. i think i sounded like jackie kennedy. [laughter] but anyway, there i was 5:30 the next day. november for the ft earlier in the day was completely dark except for just a little outline of lighter than stephen hawking's office store. the young lady would rummy from her session showed me the way
they are, past and i said shall i not? she said i haven't the slightest idea. and i thought is he that frightening? this is ridiculous. but i thought, i thought a little bit like dorothy going to the "wizard of oz" for the first time. it was rather intimidating. usually when you go to visit stephen hawking you do if someone refuel little bit. if he had or is graduate assistant will tell you that she don't sit across from -- across the desk from him. there is a chair there but she don't sit there. he sat beside him so you can both see his computer screen where he's choosing the words to make up the sentences. you're also told that she don't kind of second-guess him. he let them find the words, let them finish the sentence, even
if you know very well where it is going and you know it's going to take him 10 minutes to get there, you wait. but once he has created the sentences across the bottom of the screen, you don't have to wait 10 to have his computer voice to say, you can continue the conversation at that point. i didn't know any of that and the only other person at that event was the young man, one of his nurses. this young man was there for the first time that evening, so we were both equally ignorant. and there was stephen hawking, looking even more at devastatingly disabled than i'd expect day. but i waited. i wasn't sure whether i should start the conversation, but this time he was controlling his computer with a handheld mouselike device. use clicking that a little bit, so i waited and then his voice at hello. and things just became more comfortable then. obviously he was comfortable
with this very odd, bizarre situation, so i was two. the room -- and this is two hours talking they can, two hours making his words on the screen. it's very quiet, very peaceful. but the same time, charged with energy. and you just hear those little mechanical noise is. well, one of the reasons i wanted to talk with him was because i had been talking about the things i was writing in my blackhole book, which some of his research students and i come up with some questions that they didn't know the answers to, so i thought i better talk with him. i don't flatter myself to think that these are such advance questions they did know the answers. i defend a research 90s questions at you had trouble answering them. it's more difficult for research student to answer my questions when it's for someone more experienced in the field.
i was on wheeler here at cambridge perfectly happy to answer the most naïve questions. he was always good at that. but anyway, other little anarchy when i matter, i asked whether i might read him a bit of this book that i was writing. and i began to read it. and as i read it, thought to myself that it sounded so stuffy and boring and i stopped and i apologized and i said, i am sorry it sounds so stuffy and boring, but this is my first book and my editor says this is serious science and it must be treated seriously. and stephen hawking answered, it should be fun. and i said, i know it should be fine, but i don't know how to convince my editor. and so he clicked a little more and the oracle spoke. tell him i said so.
[laughter] as you might guess, i didn't have any problem with my editor after that. tell him stephen hawking told them so. this is more than just an endearing little anecdote because it should be fine in the spirit in which stephen has done all his science from a spirit in which he has conveyed science too many people who have no scientific background. many young people. he doesn't just try to explain his science. he tries to take us along on this adventure and that's the way it works. now i have sort of a backstage experience of all of that man and 2000 he was writing university shall -- "the universe in a nutshell," also his publisher in new york asked me whether they actually hired me to at it the book. and my duty was to help them
make it simpler, help them make it more easy to understand. stephen was okay with that. i didn't know how you would take that, especially sans firm has added her they had sent me his draft part of the book and i've been trying to help her understand that this is going to make about gucci is some doubts whether it's going to fit together. i made and the margins in some of them are not complementary. she said the whole thing to him. this is ridiculous. anyways, he was okay with it. so we worked together by e-mail for a couple of months and then i was in the united states then went over to cambridge to spend a couple of weeks there with him in his office. so there we were, again facing the screen where he was using his two words in another screen had the manuscript at the book on it. i prepared very carefully for those by knowing exactly which
phrases, which paragraphs and so on i was going to bring to its attention. so i said stephen, i think the words they are her too much jargon. i think it needs to be stated in everyday words if we can do that. and so, i heard this clicking and producing his wife said, it seems clear to me. i thought we really are in trouble. this is not going to work. then i looked over at him and i saw this big smile and he was looking at me seeing how is going to take it. and i knew he was having beyond. it all worked very well. he was very conscientious, taking my advice about what was too difficult. i also take care ahead of time, and in many ways the lives they would have rewritten it to make it simpler, and the suggestion.
as i suggested he didn't take any of my suggestions. he did it all himself come his own way, which shows that i get very upset when people say i helped him write that book or have been for a bit that i collaborated with him and i do that to you that sometimes when people are talking with some reviewers of the book. that is not true. all i wanted was a guinea. i was a person to try it on and see where it needs to be simpler. but i do think the book turned out very well and a lot of the things i did contribute by just telling him what needed to be sent or. so when people ask me what it is that as one have all this worldwide attention and made him such a popular figure, a well-known figure, one of the things they point to is the way he does make his science fiction
adventure for us all, but that doesn't explain it all. another part of the explanation is the area of science he works in, the huge part of science does conjure up a sense of wonder. a sense of try again and borderlands of human knowledge. lat calls, origin of the universe, questions about whether the loss of information on black holes undermines physics, the possibility that our universe is one of perhaps an infinite number of universes connected that were most perhaps. he dares to venture in days to take us to attend to this remote outpost. when the known meets the unknown has to be unknowable. john willer used to call the flaming ramparts of the world.
it borders on science fiction to us. the stephen was asked whether suburban science fiction and his answer was i hope not. at his 60th birthday party 10 years ago, his colleague gary gibbons and his tribute quoted robert browning, saying that a man to reach should exceed his grasp for weapons that have been for? know what he was implying the stephen had gotten beyond his death that should be given for it. and i think that's what he meant. the stephen asked john tien arguably unanswerable questions, things like what is it that creates fire into the equations and makes the universe for them to describe? why is there something rather than nothing? what is the universe go to the bother of existing? it strays into philosophy and
religion. there are questions that are more cautious and civil science but i'm not. they're largely irrelevant to the everyday pursuit of most science. and even all the cover of his book was the grand design, this book was first built in answers come it does actually an stephen goes on asking questions. ever since then he goes unseen i want to know these answers. also, in that same book he writes that it is meaningless to ask whether the answers he propose is there anyone else proposes that that level really represent reality. and on which causes his more dogmatic reductionist atheistic statements that he often makes to the media seem a little not quite stephen hawking, whether you agree with him or not they seem a little too earth on, a
little tube lit, more so than he usually did. but it wouldn't be correct to serve as a science in trying to explain his appeal. he would probably wish it otherwise, but his disability and even more than not be astonishing good-humored way he simply dismisses that disability , a vital part of his public image. so oliver sacks who wrote awakening and the man who mistook his wife for a hat, wrote about a kind of health, a strength of grace that go beyond the depth of any elements and a credit then discarding stephen hawking. another of the questions i am frequently asked about stephen is what is the most significant contribution to science classics i believe in most of his academic colleagues with say
they would be his establishment that black holes in its black body radiation also known as hawking radiation. this was an unexpected discovery back in the 1970s, unexpected to see them do most of my unexpected to the rest of the scientific community. it took sometime to be expected in a custom radicular first. but it has stood the test of time and is likely to stand the test of more time. since then, in his work has become more speculative. testing big ideas come at a renowned mind-boggling suggestions and proposals and dealing with those more fundamental questions. for instance, jim hartl is no boundary. for the origin of the universe and which in a very, very early universe but to mention that we think of time was for a space
dimension. now stephen seems today from a lot of what he has written to assume that the no boundary proposal is correct and that it is safe to build other theories on the no boundary condition as he calls it. a great majority of his colleagues i think would not agree to not accept it to that degree. some of the proposals do not alert and a labyrinth of universes wormholes. these are pretty speculative things. he is coming to his colleague, kip thorne that i'd rather be right than rigorous, signaled a shift in his way of doing science. what he meant was if you take too long trying to underpin everything that's unavailable mathematics, you're liable to
miss the forest and trees and he would've preferred to be perhaps 90% certain and then moved on. his latest ideas haven't received the same level of accepting as half radiation house, at least not yet. but they do assert a certain different purpose. he throws out these ideas are never scurries around. there's a lot of interest, a lot of activity, a lot of people who do mathematics feel that stephen is right. so it's not all for nothing. it's not just during a science fiction. in spite of this tendency to become more speculative, one of his recent contributions but jim hartl lake and thomas her talk and this is something that he insisted had to be in this book paired it was something i hadn't arrived yet done but he pointed me to the papers and this had to be here, was to suggest a way
that was available in our universe of radiation to determine from the evidence the air whether or not our universe is part of a multi-verse of the suggested eternal inflation. at some of just wild speculation. they actually made a proposal. we have to wait from the data from the planks and maybe even satellites beyond that. it's possible perhaps to test it. in my biography, intervened sections having to do with hawking's personal story and a science. not only chapter by chapter, sometimes they so intermingled. so you have the sort of personal storyline to expect from a biography beginning with his childhood and 11, their eccentric family, living in a
draftee, spooky house in saint albans, england following in her his childhood, teenage years, wild days when he did practically work whatsoever a man into his first year as a graduate student at cambridge when he was diagnosed with lou gehrig's disease. then his courtship later to beat jane hawking's come a very moving story because it took place in the context of his coming to terms with his disease and her coming to terms with it. not only with the disease and disability, but the prospect of what at that time was going to be very early debt that we've only been given two years to live. then he goes on to children, the birth of his children, failure of the first marriage and on the things you expect from a.
there's just a cornucopia in the book, not only has science, but the science that is most interested in and most influenced him. and then there's all sorts of those wonderful that it is made with his colleagues about the black hole, will he find the concern? can there be such a thing as singularity? is information irretrievably lost in a black hole? i keep encountering bats i never knew he made and then you hear about his settling and with the document with his on it. this is a big activity. and then explain the science and what i hope it's a slightly simpler level than he has explained in his own boat. it is one of my great joys to find ways to explain things simply and waste that can be
understood. my father was a musician, but he also looked mathematics and science. he read a lot of science and what he is god, using my scope, what he said was he never felt he really understood anything unless he could explain it to us kids and that was when i was about nine years old. if he couldn't explain to ask, he didn't really understand it. and also, the inspiration to john wheeler here at princeton and the way he always did a little drawing and things to explain things. one of the greatest compliments i ever had this to a john wheeler put one of my trains up on his office door. he didn't show what should be done. it's a good drawing. but one of my favorite reviews of any of my books was one that appeared in periodicals with a
taxi driver time and this review was of my first even hawking book in 1989. it said this is the book that tells us what the bloody a brief history of time is all about for those who never made it past chapter two. and then i thought well, i hope that 22 years later and still capable of that kind of explanation. if you follow stephen hawking science chronologically through size as i've done in this book that rather than getting peace as we always do, you discover that he has a rather healthy product upon the rock from his own discoveries and his own assertion. of all the stereotypes that is played to men and of science,
surely one is harmed. science can be pictured as evil, not, cold, self-centered, absent-minded current you square that survey easily. unfortunately they are often pictured as bright and that can distort the picture of science past redemption. now whether or not you agree with that, stephen hawking is certainly seem to have done his best to erase that stereotype by changing its mind so frequently. and his doctoral dissertation in the 1960s, he concluded that the universe had to have the kind of the singularity when everything was compressed to a point of infinite density and space-time curvature. but the last physics and then i'll hope of a scientific explanation breaks down. however in the 1980s, he
returned to contemplating the early universe with jim hartl, this time bringing a powerful reinforcements from quantum theory and discovered that using imaginary time, a mathematical design which allows the time dimension to become a fourth space dimension chronological time loses all meaning and singularity is near to where in the universe doesn't really have a beginning. meanwhile, he had discovered that the area of the event horizon, border debacles can never get smaller. and then the radiation discovered that they could get smaller. and the upshot of that was another reversal. four years, insisting that everything that happened has happened or ever will happen is determined by either god or serious everything.
he came up with something called the information paradox as it occurred to his colleagues with this one. the question is, what happens when a black hole grows smaller, smaller and smaller and eventually disappears entirely? would have been things trapped inside it? would have been to the class deformed, where does it all go? and stephen was insisting that all of this information trapped in the black hole was last irretrievably from our universe. now naïvely, we think that's not really a problem, as it? the start of the collapsed, maybe some gas is, traditionally if you unmatched in their are astronauts who should have gone there in the first place and should have known better. but you know, this is pretty trivial when you talk about having lost to the universe, but
that is not the case. such information threatens to undermine the whole civics and much of our everyday view of life. the sort of predictability that science depends on as well as your and mine alliance on the cause and a dependable way or potentially undermined by last of information from our universe. in 2004, hawking came up with what he felt was a solution to this problem so we wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. but some of his more astute colleague such as roger penrose thinks that his arguments for the information paradox for more powerful than his solution. but if on this route weren't enough,, it all seemed minor to hawking's most recent announcement, that he suspects that it is not going to be possible for anyone advert to
discover a fundamental theory of the universe commented. every thing is its popular name, which is something he has spent his life hoping for. but in an theory, that quested fragmented. we can only know several approximations to the underlying theory, approximations in the current way we think about it. five from the dream theories and one supergravity. but we don't know how to formulate underline do through theory through t-tango the through quotations that through believe, that is a huge turnaround for him. and there's another change in his thinking. the change in his attitude towards the anthropic principle for anthropic thinking, which in case you need reminding, the anthropic runcible and the question, why is the universe as
we observe it so perfectly fine-tuned for the emergence of intelligent life in our existing. that's fine tuning that the origin of the universe is so precise and so unlikely as it seemed to be nothing short of miraculous. the anthropic answer in its simplest form to the question, why do we observe the universe in its way they would never be around to observe the dollar as the question. stephen hawking's attitude towards that anthropic answer, when he wrote a brief history of time in 1980 was having it all just a happy chance, just a stroke of good fortune or as he put it, a counsel of despair, a negation of all of our hopes of understanding the underlying order in the universe. but lately he's been attributing a great deal of power to anthropic thinking and something he calls his top-down approach.
when he and jim hartl were developing their no boundary proposal in the 1980s, they used a device invented by the american physicist, richard feynman called sons of her histories and hockey and hartl is used to this, and used all histories of our universe and then calculated which were more likely than others, which were more probable. it is not so easy to do that with the history of our universe. we don't have concrete knowledge about point may come the beginning but we know quite a bit about point b., where we are today. we can imagine a lot of possible point is then possible beginnings, but most of them will not be fine-tuned in the way we know our universe had to be in order to produce that says we are now at point b. so we need a very special
specific point in a period so by what miracle was point at? stephen hakeem recommends a look at all from a different days. when he calls the top-down approach, tracing the alternative histories and the universe not from playmate to point b. and that pours from the present time from point a to point name. our presence at point b., and the fact that our being here, living in this universe dictates which histories this universe could and could not have had. and a sense, we create the history of the universe by being here and by observing it. take for example the fact that we have four dimensions for four observable dimensions in our universe, three of space and one of time.
and i'm theory, there is no overall world that he universe would have three dimensions space and one of the time. the range of possibility includes every number from zero to 10 space dimension and even in some versions more than one time dimension. our three dimensions of space and one of time may not be the most probable situation, but nevermind that. and top-down thinking, three dimensions of space and one of time is the only situation that is of interest to ask. considering the universe than the old way from the bottom that, there seems to be no discoverable reason why the laws of nature are what they are and not something different. but we do observe the laws of nature to be what they are. that we are here, so i can satisfy not start with that? i present this hugely significant.
and as he anthropic principle, obviously when the support sites examined the world around them, dear finding the heat satisfied conditions they required to access. so just as the benefactor of art universe, we also choose the history of our earth and cosmic environment that allows us to exist. that is a top-down approach. now you might expect hurricanes, and this is his top-down cosmology, what he is preaching to say that we, the observers are the answer to the fundamental question, why is there something rather than not in? what is it that breathes fire and makes the universe for them to discard? maybe we are the first cause. maybe we don't even need a creator. our presence uses that all of those that exist in order of the
argument is possible or required. but he doesn't use that argument. he doesn't use that in his book, the grand design and he didn't use that in a discussion he and i had in november of 2010. whenever i asked stephen a question, i try to put it in a form that he can answer yes or no. but it doesn't usually start. he goes on. i've tried. but i mentioned the question he posed in history of time. what is it that we can to the question that makes the universe for them to describe? using top-down thinking is the answer, and he answered no. that's the end of that matter. it would be interesting to hear him have a discussion with john wheeler, who of course is no longer with us. john will propose something called the dependent universe in which we can't have the laws of
nature, no universe unless there are observers, which makes you wonder if they're in the web servers, if we disappear from the scene, there is no longer any observers, will there be a history of the universe anymore and it's a very interesting question. but it does play the same way of thinking come in the top-down of thinking. now, whenever i finish the draft of the book, i have met has been rated because my husband has sealed its global studies. he's not a scientist, but he is a good example of the target audience really from my book unintelligent people who are scientists. he claims that he can understand it, anybody can, but is guided exact. but he read the close of the book i'm aware quoted stephen hawking is saying something that is still a child who has never grown up, still asking how
unwise question and occasionally finding an answer to satisfy him. my husband read that occasionally finding an answer that satisfies them and pinon for a while. at night that yes, you left out in the book. i thought that's exactly right. that's the nature of his adventure. then the answer that satisfies him, that pretty soon he's off in a new direction, sometimes undermining what he said previously. what will be stephen hawking's legacy? what well -- arena a few young enough to be alive to be 30, 50 years from now? yes, yes. but will he be sandman? i know what he would like. you would like to be remembered for his life. forget about the fact he'd never been disabled that would be fine with him. i think the author john milton, the poet john milton wrote
paradise lost. he wrote he was completely blind. how many people actually know that. i looked it up in wikipedia and there's no mention of this blindness until way down many paragraphs and just mentioned in passing. and i thought, wouldn't see them of that, to have himself remembered for a science and nobody would even think of the fact he was disabled. but we don't know what will be run on bird. but the no boundary proposal ever become part of the mainstream of theoretical physics and cosmology? or will it always be interesting come in beautiful proposals that never had that much impact or acceptance? will people go on being trampled and working around with the information paradox? will things like p. and send time in the invention of his need to ask around the year 2000 were seems to be sitting on the
shelf now, what about things like that? will it be remembered? i think that his legacy is definitely will be twofold if nothing now is. first, and the excitement he has generated about science and cosmology. when i intended the academic conference that preceded his -- his 70th earth day back in january, all these it had all of these young people and among the young people were physics is that already were contributing to the field. important universities really doing exciting work. some of them were stephen's former stance on some of them one-off, but again and again i heard them say their lives reading a brief history at a time when i was a teenager that commie into this field.
that is why i am working and cosmology in science today. that is a huge legacy. that is a wonderful thing. and also, second, i think he will continue to stand as a towering example of courage and turn nation into overwhelming obstacles, a real-life demonstration of what human beings can accomplish, the kinds of things they can face in the kind of work they can do, that great things can be accomplished and life can even be blended and it does not have to be when the sun is shining and nearing the peak of health. as you may know, stephen knocking didn't get to 70th earth day party. he was two and zero, and the hospital very, very seriously. every time this happens, ever
run things at the end. but this time it seemed worse than usual. but i just hadn't e-mailed this week when the secretary, by sheer huge effort of determination he's back in the office. the first time is actually on a respirator most of the time, which was not true before. nevertheless he's intending a march to come over to texas for the conference that cut express, intending to go to caltech. this is a man who just won't beat you to it by his physical problem. it's amazing. i am the same age as stephen. i turned 73 weeks before he did and i told him he better respect his elders. so i won't be around 50 years from now, nonetheless we have a huge breakthrough in health. but as long as i am alive, i will remember how much his brief history of time awoken me this passion of science.
underfunded it has been exploring all the science and the fact none of my e-books would've been written had i never encountered him, his wonderful self mocking humor and a wonderful smile that would light the universe. he really has had a tough road through life if you talk a bit in terms of a bridge game he was dealt with the curiously unbalanced hand and he certainly made a grand slam. he has set an example for all of us. i know not everything he has done has been so laudable. he's an arrogant, certainly can be stubborn, can be self-centered and may be asked to to survive. but i've gotten to know him just a little and i really like the man.
the thank you. [applause] does anybody have any questions? you're really one of my most basic audiences because they is to give tax call black holes to the inept. and i don't think you fit that category, but i always say, you know, don't be afraid to ask naïve questions. i'm sure no one here would ask a naïve question, but you're welcome to do it. stephen hawking says that no one asks a question that means either no one understood anything or everybody understood everything. anyway, that's encouragement.
>> is your children? been mackie desk on three children, same age as my children so they've got to be about 43, 44, 41 and 31 in age. [inaudible] >> his oldest son is in information technology. he has a degree from corpus christi i think and he was a natural science major, but i'm not sure that they -- but that's what he does now. and his mother, jane hakeem explains that was something his interest and that was really brought to a head. but he was just a kid and they had a sabbatical account that and he met another boy there it was really into that and that is what got him interested. i've experienced this myself peabody bought sabbatical it
becomes a watershed for the whole family, not just in the case of my heart and good when i started writing about science was when i went on sabbatical or children i were a watershed. yes and his daughter has written a couple of children's books with stephen called the george barracks. churches key to the universe. they are wonderful books. you have to hope those in the library. you have them? well, i have to recommend. they are wonderful. they are fiction. what's interesting is he meets a scientist who is next-door to him who is so clearly stephen hawking as he would be without his disability. it's so clearly the same person. it anyway, they have these adventures and it's sort of science-fiction, but their huge sections sections of the book
they are kind of removed for the book and colored print and those are the sections that are the real science. there's a lot about the black holes, various things like that. they're wonderful books, really terrific. yes. on your mac -- student angus of notoriety for saying he didn't believe in god -- [inaudible] >> i don't think he's ever said he believes in god. and it "a brief history of time" he says it waits at the beginning and the need for a creator. he's made some very atheistic statements to the media about
belief in an afterlife is a fairytale because rob really computers and when the computer gives up, it just dies. i think somebody said yeah, but you can take a whole intellectual content of computer and put it on a memory stick. is that like reincarnation? [laughter] but i did get a question about his religious -- i gave a talk in cambridge that i said before encountered him at all i thought you believed the old statement that there are no cute yes apostles and he's definitely a fossil. what i said that i made a mistake i said there are no atheists in warm holes. i'll bet there aren't.
no, but he -- but he tends to make atheistic statements to the press. one thing i would personally hate to see as part of his legacy would be to turn a whole lot of intelligent young people into unthinking atheists. i think still decisions of belief and unbelief deserve a lot of consideration, deserve a lot of investigation, a lot of experimentation actually and shouldn't be made just because some charismatic figure like stephen hakeem makes statements to the media. i think that would be an unfortunate legacy. anybody else? cathedral."
california. >> finally, before we get started, i have one very special introduction tonight. i would like to recognize on behalf of george, the chair and the front row. the stone was hired at the age of 16 to work for herman goldstein when he was working with. [inaudible] at school on the nei project. when he moved to work directly with john von neumann, he had a very distinguished career. far more than being a secretary. she was there for the creation and has traveled to be here for this program. would you please stand up? [applause] [applause] [applause] [applause]
you are so tiny, i saw people trying to see you. we are delighted to see you. if you would like to ask some questions of someone who worked directly with her legend, please feel free to pass those on period tonight's program. the world inhabited at princeton university and alan turing and john von neumann, and yet george dyson's brilliant new book, "turing's cathedral: the origins of the digital universe", makes it as vivid and relevant as today indeed, it can hardly be more relevant. the world we inhabit, the cathedral, described by alan turing, is governed, howard berman driven by new variations on the code that they envision and build. it would be simplistic to say that in john von neumann leiby
case, the stories are important, because as dyson writes, the digital universe and hydrogen bomb were brought into existence by the same team. von neumann's team. the story deals with this in much more detail. the story deals with this in a much more center of john von neumann, inventor, teacher, towering intellect. the physicists describe him in this way. if he mentally superhuman race ever develops, its members will resemble john von neumann. this is not george dyson's first attempt to help us understand both a technical and human level the way that we coexist and cocreate with computing. he is the author among darwin of the machines as well and two other books also and he writes
frequently on the subject. this is not totally his day job. as you may know, he is in addition to being a scientist, a historian,, and author, able builder and designer from his home in bellingham, washington. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming george dyson. [applause] [applause] [applause] thank you very much. >> it's great to have you here. >> thank you. >> welcome. so glad to have you here, george. >> this is a fantastic exhibit. >> thank you very much. we are delighted you are here. you are among friends. these are your people, george. we are going to have some fun tonight. let's talk about the practice of writing the book. you have an intensely personal connection to princeton and the advanced best the institute of advanced study, because your father, freeman dyson, and your
mother -- talk a little bit about that, what it was like to go up and be among people at turn four. >> i have to be careful what i say, but for a child -- a young boy, it was not that interesting. it would work on pencil and people all day and go out into the woods and talk about physics. the most exciting thing was the chalkboard. they still use chalkboards at the time. but there was this out building up in the back where julian bigelow was building this machine. that is what interested me. that is where i spend a lot of my time poking around and taking things apart there that were discarded as scrap is a project. >> there is a famous story about your babysitter being einstein secretary. >> yes, people behind every
great man, there is somebody who keeps track of things. that was helen dukas, who was a fantastically intelligent woman. she was einstein's agent, when he needed something, helen knew where everything was. but she didn't have her own children. she grew up in a family, i can't remember -- i think with 11 children, a huge number of children and her family. she missed that. so she adopted our family. i have four younger sisters, she was relieved their babysitters. my job was to make life difficult when she was trying to babysit my sister's. but i owe her a terminus law because i was really being difficult one day and she said why don't you settle down and read a book? there were no books because i had read all of them. she went to the shelf and pulled out a book and give it to me and said read this.
it was no name. that was the first adult book that i read. that changed my mind. >> that didn't really could really change your life? >> yes, it did. i think she saw that. she was going to give this kid this book. >> as a kid, to become a natural thing for you to be curious about who they were and about von neumann and the meaning of computing? >> yes, that came later, thanks to esther, my sister who has such an influence on the community here. thanks to esther, i started going to her technology conferences in the early 1980s, and i saw this whole world -- the world of personal computers, it was lurching -- it was florida shame i wanted to understand it
i was less interested in what happened first, i am more interested in trying to find out what happened. it was not the first high-speed computer, it is not the first program computer at best you can almost say that maybe it is the first computer with a fully random access memory. but even there could've been a couple for us. it was the ancestors and was the one that got copied, just like, you know, newton was the first, iphone, but it didn't become the iphone. >> we have learned the hard way between the word first and computer there are 19 adjectives. [applause] [applause] >> you told me a fascinating story about the treasure trove
of papers he were allowed to get access to. some that have not seen the light of day since the mid- 1940s. can you talk about that? >> yes, the reason the book exists is because people were kind enough to let me into their garages and their basements and in the case of the institute, sort of their studies which had been very protective of their privacy. they are a private organization. thanks to charles simoni, was one of your benefactors, it was charles who let georgians have access to this stuff. i found unbelievable things. for someone like me, it was unbelievable to go there. my daughter came with me, and she does it every day i would poke around the documents all day and then come home and go
back in the morning. i would normally work in archives where i have 48 hours and i'm sleeping on someone's couch. it is amazing to have that access. >> you read about an amazing piece of paper debris found, which looks like it was torn from a notepad and crumpled up and thrown away. but then somehow, retrieved and i'm crumpled. talk about that. >> this was an wasn't in the institute, this was in the papers that julian bigelow, who is the engineer, who is like most engineers -- he saved things. he saved a lot of papers. when he died, his family allowed me to search and go through his papers. and there was a scrap of paper lying on the top -- with the word for it d. d. that is like 1946. forty binary digits, command and
an address. ten bits for the command and 10 bits and that sort of thing -- i am a fan of the earlier tablet of moses, sort of let there be the command line. [laughter] 's. [applause] >> where did these things start? tomorrow, i will have a piece of paper in my basement it could be from 1943. >> that is an amazing thing -- lots of amazing things come out of basements and garages. this is the last question about the process. you encountered an amazing number of people you wanted to
talk with and you arrived a little late? >> yes, there were still enough people to let me access the firsthand. nancy stern, a number of people who were thinking about this 20 or 30 years ago in gathering this oral history. turing's cathedral is a metaphor. i want to talk about von neumann, but let's talk about alan turing for a moment and specifically, the title of the book and how you came to call this book "turing's cathedral." >> the other thing -- his wife is five months pregnant. young allen young alan is about to come on the scene.
one of the good things is that he left a lot of papers. you can read everything that he will. he was like von neumann. i read everything that alan turing wrote, and in 1950 he wrote this tremendously famous paper is same as his paper on artificial intelligence. you could see the critic coming through intelligent design and you are playing god and you shouldn't go there. he made the statement then when we create these intelligent machines, we are no more creating souls when we are in the project of creating children. we are simply creating mansions for the souls that only he can create i love that. i love that phrase. when i went to 2005, i went to
google. that was six years since this project began. the engineers there gave me a very deep inside to urge what was going on. when i walked out of there, i was stunned. they were really truly doing everything that he had imagined. in a nondeterministic way. this is not turing's mentioned, this is turing's cathedral. that is the phrase that became the title of the book. the second level is simply that the cathedral is billed by large numbers of anonymous people whose names are not remembered, but the cathedral remains. >> over many years. >> those are people like [inaudible name].
>> turing and von neumann overlap that their time at princeton. for two years. how do they interact? >> this is 1936 to 1938. at that time, the institute, which is part of the whole thing, it has nothing to do with princeton university. at princeton you think it is the university, the hoover institute at stanford. at that time, they didn't have a building from a survey made a deal for the institute to actually be touring on the math department. even though turing was at the university, they have a lot of contact. that is where he corrected the final proof of his grades papers. what we don't know, what sort of dark is what happened during the war. von neumann went off to england to work with the british and
turing came to america to work with the english. that part is still a black hole. in large part it may be taking just a long time to come out. >> i think that von neumann was working on the nuclear work in england because the british made a lot of contributions, and he ran over to to jumpstart some of that. i think that von neumann was so good at everything, i can't believe they didn't bring him into the cryptography question and he came back and had forgotten things that von neumann said. he actually credited as his ideas to a laboratory in england. he says that in writing. he does not mention any of the enigma work, of course, you
wouldn't mention that. >> there are a couple of exchanges in the book were you cite discussions that von neumann is a part of what they are at -- with colleagues at ias. he was aware of turing's theories because he was working on a seminal paper. it was already -- the implication is that it was already having some influence on his thinking about this. >> yes, he was a mathematical edition, and he followed it very closely. i decided to do a little research rather than speculation. i went and found von neumann's copy of turing's papers. it is in the institute now, one of the shelves that drafted crank it out as nobody goes in there, they are all in there
with perfect bindings, and there is one paper in there, and if you take it out, all of the pages fall out. it is completely completely disintegrated from being read so many times. that is pretty good evidence that they read that paper. [laughter] [applause] >> let's talk about von neumann. well educated in budapest. goes to berlin, joins the academy. is a professor. the nazis began to dismiss him from german academy. he is appointed to the faculty at princeton. and as he goes to the ias, he encounters a remarkable group who were already there, and really come a remarkable intellectual atmosphere. oppenheimer called it an intellectual hotel. talk a little bit about the ias as von neumann would've
experienced it. >> the thing we forget, most people remember the ias because of einstein and nuclear physicist, and mathematicians -- people forget about the institute and how it had a very strong school in the history of art and the school of classical epigraph he and greek epigraphs, archaeologists, all of this other culture there. of course, acramone can tell you. he was the model for the lost art. all these people were there. it wasn't just math and physics. it was a very rich place. oppenheimer comes in and he invited t.s. eliot. the position i had was created for t.s. eliot. a position for the strange outsider artist who comes in and says something -- and now they have a school of biology. von neumann coming in the first
place -- he didn't come alone. he came went eugene regner. at that time, they were not hiring professors. so they couldn't really higher von neumann flat out, but they found a loophole. there was no problem. they can either to hunt during halftime. they could not hire one hunger in full-time, but they could higher one. so they offer them this half-time position which is 10 times you could make in europe that is how they got both of those guys at once. >> we are going to skip ahead to slightly, because i wanted to talk about how he wound up in los alamos. >> everybody wound up in los
alamos. [laughter] [applause] >> there was a train from new jersey to los alamos. he didn't stay there. he was transient. yet so much going on. he didn't leave until the war was over. they can have people go and leave. if you went, you brought your family. von neumann have this special path where you can go in and out, and you had a tremendous -- he was the prototype of all these great war tories. there was a deal made that i think was very explicit. a deal that oppenheimer made. we will build you this bomb, but you have to let us -- we won't tell you how to use the bomb, you don't tell us how to do science. we will be free to do all the signs we want in our spare time. and that is why so much good science came out of los alamos. >> and he was incredibly
challenged and invigorated by the intellectual process of trying to think through the very competent problem, but he was also increasingly, as the project move forward, deeply troubled from a medical standpoint, wasn't he? >> von neumann? yes, that is when i discovered from the most remarkable body of documents, in von neumann's basement next to the filing cabinet. those papers went to library of congress, but his filing cabinet didn't go. in the bottom drawer was all the handwritten correspondence between him and his wife. it gives you a day by day, first-hand picture of what people were really thinking at the time. >> is using that is just a means of getting this out. >> it was like e-mail, but he
would have a full day of meetings and solving problems and still write 16 pages in fountain pen to his wife. they had a difficult marriage. they were always in different places because she was doing the coding for the early bond calculations. she might be working on something in aberdeen, and he was in los altos or somewhere. my friends translated the hungarian to english. >> did you know about the secret show the letters? >> i could not have imagined. the most interesting period of american history, to me, is just before world war ii until after sputnik. after sputnik, we have a very good record. but there is a period there where we don't know what people said. the oppenheimer trial was very
interesting. the white described the day that when you got everyone's reactions. >> how did you come upon that? >> thanks to mrs. von neumann. i was doing this project and she said well, maybe you should come here to ann arbor and look at this stuff. to her, it was awkward, because this is the woman that her father left her mother for. she didn't really want to look. it was very personal, very personal letters. but you just she trusted me to go through them and take out what was useful for the history of computing, and it brings the book to life. i don't think there would be a book without her voice.
she gives lectures in seattle -- in 1940, they drove across the united states. it was route 66, she recorded that -- stopping at the gas stations. it is all there. her personal accounts are just riveting. they really are. she kept a journal right to the very end. she deserves a book of her own, if not from her, hope from someone else. >> and his incredible life that von neumann is leaving in 1944, he encounters [inaudible name] and they work on the back for the first time. talk about that encounter and then what happened. effort and buckley were way ahead. they had built the eniac. there is no doubt that they built it or not the eniac is a
clear case of something that was first, even though it can be traced. it can be traced other people and that the eniac was a pioneering thing. because he was part of the ballistic research board, he got to see it. when he saw, immediately saw what to do. i think partly as a visual. when the eniac is running, you're seeing the bits on the lights moving around. you can see the numbers and you are within the computation. and he had that kind of mind. i think the moment that he saw that, he could see all this other stuff coming. either by the way, the eniac was physically bill, you are literally standing at the site. >> we forget that the eniac was
very advanced for there was actually a multiple core processor. we divide the complication of into a parallel half. irving goldstein who was instrumental is that when he saw it for the first time, when he saw the eniac, it changed his life forever. and by moments on words, expressing what he is doing? suddenly, everything had been theoretical for him and becomes physical and real. yes, for instance, in his letters to his wife. he is in love with the eniac. he knew what it could do. and then it was this very wonderful thing where he talked his wife -- talk his wife how to use it.
somebody saw that they were thinking -- they were designing the running code. some he said we could rewire the eniac and mondays stored programs on the eniac, and they were two people that rewired it and brought it to run. that was the origins of where all that software came from. that was just such a fruitful time. it was a mixture of their marriage in the coding and it is an amazing period. she had no training for any of this? >> she did have training. during the war, when he went off to england to do what we don't know if, and his wife is left in princeton, she got a wartime job. women could apply. her wartime job was the center
for wartime research at princeton university. her job was modeling populations of people. what would happen if you create a new state in the middle east. the model these these populations. they were all studying the population and neutrons. they had two children, and escape is like immigrating best and so she taught herself the mathematics and got into being what they needed. it is a strange accident. there is a point of controversy in history about von neumann's relationship to the intellectual work that eckert and ias were producing. whether or not von neumann wanted to circulate that was more of an open-source guide to
use a modern phrase. didn't leave the secret -- because he understood the power it could unleash, should truly be secret, or whether he played by the rules, so to speak. when you think about that? >> he certainly broke the rules. this is very controversial, there is no doubt that he wrote that paper. there were certainly some things that were not his idea. there were parts that goldstein wrote and parts that von neumann wrote -- there were no question that a lot of the ideas came from eckert and mauchly. but the paper was released under von neumann's name. all i can do is find out what the truth is, and the truth is
that it was considered a publication. a voided the chance of patton from eniac. in terms of the smoking gun, all i can say is that in 1945 when consultant agreement was signed with ibm, when von neumann signed a consulting agreement with ibm, this was highly favorable for ibm. there were no patent restrictions on it. but i think from von neumann's point of view, i don't think he was out unscrupulous -- i think he thought it was for the good of everybody. i think you have to remember that all these groups during the ward yesterday were all collaborating. rca and eckert transport and others -- they were all cooperating together. people from manchester were coming from princeton. people from princeton were going to manchester. they were arguing about who
should get credit -- the argument in what later. >> and in fact, the war ends. von neumann is headed back to ias. wants to transplant the entire eniac team and take them all and continue to work. eckert and mauchly decline. goldstein goes, but eckert and mauchly decide they're going to pursue commercial. >> the reason the globe valve job is because eckert decline. people went back and forth. we shanghaied to their guys and we shanghaied to viewers. >> in the end, he became very better, and i., again, can read in this book, you can read
documents that are pretty incriminating. the eckert transport company -- and then they had their security clearance questions and they were off the contract. there is a very sort of disservice describing what happened. i don't think they were a security risk, but really for the company off the path. >> and turing was once critical. he was very critical about this vector -- >> he was very annoyed. he felt that they were holding things up. and he would feel differently. i try not to take sides, but i think that both -- there are truth on both sides. >> in 1946, he put that aside, he goes back to ias. he began working on this highly improved binary program, successor -- to the eniac called
maniac. >> that name was adopted by [inaudible name]. >> yes, right. and he said some interesting things. personal, he is very practical. he says we're not going to originate anything. we are simply going to work with the state-of-the-art at that moment. >> that's right. >> and that went back in tubes -- down in tubes and crt memory as it existed at the time. in 15 tons of air conditioning. >> yes, the magnetic wire keep up for output -- he did a lot of things. one was, if you remember, that is how you could not modify the old telephones -- but they did modify ibm, they got some punchcard machines, and that type still read 12 it -- on the 12 that side.
that is why we have 80 character lines. >> was that his innovation? >> he lived here and became -- he moved to stanford, he decided just a few years ago. he did that long. he got in trouble, and then the ibm people came and said wait a minute, we could probably sell this. and they did very well. that is what put them in the data processing business. >> the british author had a great review of the book. we were talking about it earlier. he said that no other book brings to life anything so vividly or appreciatively like the immense engineering difficulty of creating electronic logic for the first time. talk about the design, the team, the plan, von neumann's plan to
do this -- he was just tireless in bringing all these theories to light. >> yes, and he was trying to do would be almost impossible. what they did was really crazy. they are making this 40 bit parallel machine, and these tubes are tubes that if you walk past wearing a wool sweater, you might throw three of the bits up, yet they got it to work in new jersey. >> and you tell the story about every time a car drove by, it would wipe out the memory. >> yes, and thunderstorms -- they were so persistent. the fact that they got this thing working as well as they did was quite amazing. >> he used a phrase a deal with the devil, talking about this. there was another deal with the devil made in the development of
the computer that von neumann wanted to build. wasn't there? >> yes, i feel, and i think this is still a people for the future, but the deal was made -- you know, this is a metaphor. the deal with the devil was made that the devil could have this weapon that could destroy all life on earth, and von neumann, and the scientists would make this computer that would reveal all knowledge. it was a interesting thing. give me everlasting life and i will give you my firstborn child sort of thing. we think that, you know, we won the deal because at that time, it in conference will today have real the threat of global nuclear war was at that time. it was very close. it was a 20 minute launch window
to destroying the world. and we survived that. we don't worry about those bombs like we used to. it seems like we got the better end of the deal. i think what you have to remember is that computers can be equally threatening. i went to computers, and i think that is what we need to be watchful for. we do not let this global computing network that is so beautiful -- it is a cathedral, make sure that it does not become the tools -- some totalitarian maniac. >> you talk about that, and i want to get to that in a second, but it is interesting -- interesting spot the word -- it is compelling that von neumann could see both moving in parallel. he could see what the net result of the hydrogen bomb was likely to be, and at the same time, had this premonition of what computing taken to it's
completely far extent could also turn out to be. >> right. he did not foresee internet. you can give him credit for a lot of things, but not the internet. then what you call a real problem and the perfect cover -- so they are working on thermo nuclear explosion models, but they are also working on strategic weather -- meteorology. i don't think there's anything -- i think that von neumann was an opportunist. he was a genius. they didn't need a cover for this work. meteorology was the perfect cover. so they brought in real made apologists and anytime you check your iphone and get a five day forecast, it is the same codes that they developed right there. it is just better data and infinitely more processing
power. >> exactly. it really is the same mathematics. >> you talk about klara learning to write for the any accurate this is one of the great revelations of the book, which is, as they are developing the monte carlo -- von neumann is instructing klara even further. she's actually getting involved in writing code. code for monte carlo. has that been known before? that von klara was writing coder monte carlo? >> some of these codes -- there is one of them in an envelope -- an envelope that you can mail for two spams. it is a code -- what we would call a source code for a hydrogen bomb. it is the opposite of today. this code would run, and it would run in any act for six weeks to get a yes or no answer.
now, in a microsecond, your screen is refreshed and you have a zillion bits. there are very different kinds of codes. i think it is a incredibly important thing. monte carlo is the perfect example. the inventor was recovering from a brain virus, and he was playing solitaire, and he decided that you could do computing this way -- following random paths. [laughter] [applause] >> how big monte carlo, which is an incredibly sophisticated way of going about writing software, how did that happen so early in the evolution of computing when the machines were so primitive and memory was so small? >> well, they needed it. they needed to follow these populations and neutrons, and
they didn't have the horsepower to do it in an analytical way. so they had to do it in a statistical way. the beauty of monte carlo is that it sort of -- it is not an approximation. it actually is closer to the weight of the world of physics works. physics is at its statistical purpose, not deterministic. >> can you explain that? there are some people who don't know what monte carlo is. >> yes. it's not easy to explain, but instead of trying to get an exact answer -- -- you develop a game of chance to approximate the problem. the more you play, the better your answer gets. if you were gambling in a casino, if you gambled a really long time, you would get a very accurate estimate of what the
tape of the other side is. whether it be 2% or 3%. john and klara, they meet them on the color of the casino. john has gone there, he has a system for roulette. he has lost all his money. and his first marriage, you know, he is still married to marina's mother. he goes over to the bar, and there is klara, whose husband is a compulsive addictive gambler, and she is unhappy. and he notes her from childhood. she was this very attractive figure skater, and he by surging. or, she buys him a drink. we met because she had the money. >> yes. [laughter] [applause] they meet in monte carlo. >> it's a great story.
it absolutely is. work begins in 1946, and then in the summer of 1951, 18 from los alamos comes to printed in. they look a very large thermo nuclear calculation into the maniac. it runs for 24 hours without interruption. for six weeks. -- >> 60 days, it feels more like eight weeks. >> where they flabbergasted? with a competent court? what was the reaction? >> nobody was supposed to talk about it. we were not even supposed to know the maniac was working. they thought it was a publicly dedicated ice sculpture and so forth -- we were desperate to know whether -- that is when we were building ivy mike. the first big. [inaudible] there are a few people left. harris married his delight was
there, and he died not too long ago. they were not supposed to talk about what they were doing. they were just testing out the machine. actually, they were running a problem. intel by the date in which nick metropolis shows up. [inaudible question] [inaudible question] [inaudible question] [inaudible question] >> we will have to get you a microphone. acramone was talking about their mail coming from -- of course i
was about -- they actually thought that nick had a girlfriend in new mexico. >> she just said he was so handsome. [laughter] [applause] >> than the hydrogen bomb is detonated six years ago this year. six years ago, in 1952 in the south pacific. von neumann writes about knowing, and uses the phrase that they were creating a monster. then he also goes onto say that he felt that it would be unethical for the scientists not to see through to the end what they knew they were capable of. and i think it is very interested that he just supposed ethics in that way. the monster being created, but the scientific obligation to see it through to the end. is that characteristic of that von neumann that you have uncovered? >> yes, very much so.
[inaudible] they had this argument repeatedly. the answer was no, it's physics. we have to do the physics. and we have to know what happened. this is a way to know what happened about energy density, it is our job to find out. it is not our job to say whether it is good or bad. we met the very next year, the soviets detonate their hydrogen bomb. >> well, yes, it was a very successful. it turned out just like with the germans -- they were not as far along as we were. the thing to remember is that von neumann had been working with [inaudible name]. they were actually working on a hydrogen bomb design. it was not successful, but we didn't know that at the time. then we found out that this man was a russian spy. from von neumann's point of view, the russians had as much
knowledge as we did about this and might well be pushing for the hydrogen bomb. >> in less than four years later, von neumann dies of cancer. >> yes, he dies tragically. >> and the team scatters? >> the computing team at ias, it does not last. it essentially collapsed. >> right. >> this was a time that they had this group going -- which ibm picked up on. the research started doing that. but there was a gap in between that was lost. but it is understandable why the institute and want to become a computer center. it was von neumann who kept it going. when he was gone, it was over.
>> let me ask you about two or three things before we get to these. let's talk about the implications about all of this, because you talk a lot about the implications of where computing is today and where it is going in the book. you said about a week ago that the last time you checked, the digital universe, let me just make sure i have this right, expanding by 2 trillion transistors a second, and processing power, and 5 trillion bits per second in storage? is that right? >> writes. >> von neumann had predicted a universe of 10,000 switches, i think? >> he said that was all you need for a computer. 10,000 switching units would be enough. >> with this unleashing of computing power, there there are
three things they talked about that i want to cover. one is artificial intelligence. you write one von neumann spoke of computers come he never talked about artificial intelligence and turing talk little else. talk about that dichotomy, the two of them, and whether you personally believe and write about in the book -- as the result of all this. >> i am more on the turing site. i love speculating on artificial intelligence. but von neumann was very reserved. he never published anything that was perfectly proved. he spoke in perfect complete sentences. turing was very much the other way. he stuttered and said what he thought. they were very different characters. i think that is the tragedy of von neumann. he was interested in artificial intelligence, but he didn't want to publish anything unless he had a complete theory of it, and he never got there. turing died at age 41 and von
neumann at age 53. >> is what we are seeing now the approximation of artificial intelligence as they -- turing and von neumann would've thought about it? >> i think it is awfully close to what turing was looking at. people remember turing's 1950 paper. they remember it his 1936 paper on the universal machine. the one that i think is equally as important, but less remembered is his 1938 remembrance, which is his phd dissertation at princeton that was on non-determinate machines that he called oracle machines. every once in a while, they think very logically and then do something illogical, just like people. turing, as i believe, he proved a machine that never makes mistakes can never be
intelligent. godel proved that as well. it is a very interesting thing. if you look at what google is doing. you have this enormous deterministic machine -- a million servers now but are all perfectly predictable and deterministic machines in the classical sense. yet, they are connected by these nondeterministic ways which are the people. when you are given 10 search results and you click on one, that is a nondeterministic protest. then the machine incorporates the state of that nondeterministic leap into the machine, and that is why google can get the results it does. it knows what other people have -- where other people have found in the meeting. you can't imagine a more perfect
or local machine than google. that is not scary or anything else, they are doing it. we love it. we all could live without it now. >> the second i wanted to talk about was the the computer as an organism. you talk a lot in the book about this, again, the juxtaposition of turing and von neumann, you said it many decades later we still think the same as questions. alan turing's question was what it would take for it machines to think and what it would take in von neumann's opinion, of what it would take for them to reproduce. the notion of a replicating computer is in your book. you talk about that both logically and practically. we think the implications are? >> it is what happened. that is why we ended up with silicon valley. these machines became protectively self replicate. they were replicating
themselves. i think that is why this von neumann machine is so important. even though there are other machines everywhere else, it is the one that became patent. bigelow's machine, the one that used to be right here. >> so is organism the word? >> i am more interested in coats and organisms. that is what the other great characters in this book -- it's von neumann and julian bigelow -- [inaudible name] -- [inaudible name] and they self reproduce, they replicate, they crossbreed, and he looked at that. he looked about in 1953. in a way, there's more happening on the coding side and not the hard drive side.
>> the chips are just the soup in which -- out of which the interesting stuff happens. >> third one is big computers. you touched on about google. von neumann envisioned a world, of course there is no network to speak of, but a few big computers would perform all of the world's computations. you see that vision in real life in some respects now, it is strange how we are going back to that. >> von neumann's vision is that there would be three or four big computers and he would dial into your competition and get your results over a network. then we went to vast distributed network, now we are going towards things like google and facebook which essentially are large computers. in a very broad sense. in way, they are, of course, people in the industry are going back and forth many times.
the intelligence being the determiner of the going back and forth. >> let's get to some questions now. here's one that says it is not unreasonable to say that theoretical computer science is still dominated by alan turing's concepts. if it's possible for that to change in the near future? >> yes. and i think the way it will change is not from the bottom up. we are never going to -- i don't think we're ever going to escape the turing machine running on the von neumann matrix. i think we are stuck with that, it just works so well, it's so cheap. at a higher level, on top of that, i think we are now free to build all sorts of different models of computation. i think the answer is yes, it is going to change. >> here's a question from someone who went to the ias in 1955 and saw that the computer they had looked who took with
some backing teams hanging out in space on stiff wires. it was that a debris situation or did a generally look like that? >> they were doing some diagnostic thing or something company might've been looking at -- i don't know. i would like to know when that was. >> 1955. they had monitor students -- that could've been what it was. they had to do with they would go around and look in to from outside. he met by the way, there was a real conflict among the physicists and mathematicians in what they call the computer guys. the computer people. did you interview -- were you more relegated to more space? >> they were put in the basement. >> in the basement? >> just yes, in the boiler room per. and then they would put it in a building. >> was that ever reconciled? or did they just have to go on about their business? >> it has been reconciled now
through charles simoni who built the most fabulous luxurious building at the institute -- it was built by a hungarian programmer. now, they have the best quarters. >> the hungarians have the last laugh. [laughter] [applause] >> there is its suggestion that von neumann had to chime via ias into making a machine. is that your perspective? >> yes, very much so. brett lee. it would be embarrassing if he left. if he left, he got offers from chicago, mit, bell labs would've loved to have him. but he wanted to stay there. they couldn't let him go. >> if you were to describe what von neumann's vision was for the u.s., and society in this country as he found it, and chose to make his home, do note
that would be? >> i don't know. it is an interesting question. what would he think of us now and what was he think of -- what if he had to fly through the airport and go through tsa? [laughter] [applause] >> it is sad. i don't know what he would think. but he certainly had a great vision of a free democratic society. and also to avoid -- he says explicitly or tries, how quickly this can change. but the good guys can become the good guys and vice versa. .. ..
he was at m.i.t. and again, what kind of play at these conflicts actually, we worked great closely on a number of things and he was very opposed to the hydrogen bomb and that is sort of where -- there were a lot of very sad splits between people that broke up friendships and so on. but they also differ greatly on whether creation. none of them believed that we could actually long-range project or whether. that was nondeterministic and you could not predict it.
and he was right. but they didn't really argue. they just disagree. >> is a couple questions here sinon from wesley park because we asked them to send some questioning. what is it about the first draft to baghdad fact, which was said to contain him of turing's own ideas, but put forward by someone else? so if that was so, can you talk about which of those ideas were in that report, especially given turing's description of what was not published until almost a year later? >> that gets very complicated because turing, the report is given to turing and the a's report was definitely based on the back report, but i do agree that the ideas in the add back report are based on turing
ideas. a new turing's work editor. it is my opinion, but i don't think accurate and likely, you know, worth that to speed on touring as he was, but averages like to leave it that they all agreed ideas and they were cooperating at the time. we don't realize how much cross-fertilization there was during the war wanaque liberatory's working together. >> is a part of the son of history will never know anything about quiet >> which is going to into open-minded. radar is a good idea. such a great collaboration. neither side would've done it on their own, but together they got it done. >> another bletchley park has been said perhaps unkindly it turns best contribution to the
development was to leave in pl altogether and let the team to get on so was touring in a morbid team player and the u.s. at princeton? is two questions there, one was touring not ultimately much of a team player when he was at princeton was a morbid team player? >> he joined the red the team. >> a team of a different sort. >> has 4% long-distance runner, which was a long think my rather than 18 thing. c. had a reputation of being a loner. but i think he was just difficult to deal with. there is a fantastic man now, where he asked the poor people handling him have to ask if you want to work half time so i can
play tennis in the morning when i feel like it. rather than feeling like he has to go to work in the morning. it is difficult to keep them discipline. >> these questions are for kevin morrow. he's very instrumental at the nationally cnn computing. can it really beset the best contribution was to just leave and let them get on with their work? the mac i would say that, but i don't know. i'm not about the x. i'm sure in and haven't done the look and or documents, but i think turing made great contributions. >> it may be that kevin is looking for a great validation that wasn't the case. >> i think he may have just given that to him. >> was there another
intellectual passion of vineland and decide this insatiably carry shift nicer to describe it a von neumann, what would it be? >> u.s. the byzantine empire. he could recite -- nl, he had tremendously wide range of issues. he loves mexican food. alcohol, women, justified. so i mean kami was almost disinterested in every thing. it is hard to find something he wasn't interested. denmark said strange incident go out of his way to go into places like the devils file. we had this tradition in america if you've got to drive 40 miles to go's events and he always went. and he was superstitious. he would never turn the light switch off without turning on on
off seven times. >> really? how did that come to light? >> i've taken word for that, but it's probably true. >> when she wrote that he -- if he got a question in his mind, he would go crazy. he would sulk and pout in the temperamental until he worked it out. >> there's cases of people giving him a unsolvable problems. [laughter] >> someone else that no one could be so physically in different as 75 when he was listening to a lecture he had your interest in. >> he had no time, that he was very diplomatic.
lewis strauss who was an mav says he was just great how he could negotiate agreements among a roomful of people who could disagree. that's one reason he got people like piccolo and goldstein who disagreed on everything. he got them to work together and we need people like that. but when you get a lot of credit for and suddenly you get all the credit. and you shouldn't go that far. >> what she didn't seek and really any time that occurred, he seemed to be very good about issue not away, jitney? >> he was pretty good. he had a share of credit. >> at his ego didn't require that sort of continual feeding? is that what you're saying? >> i think he could kind of feed it to himself. he did need other people. >> we are going to do a reading.
we like to have brought bittersweet because somehow this is so much more powerful when it comes across in your own voice. in effect a passages out in the book this you are going to read. so i just want to close this with your giving us a bit of that. >> okay, i picked the beginning of the hand and i'm leaving everything out in the middle. >> the acknowledgment of the title in the beginning is the command line, which is an honor of neal stephenson and it helped tremendously with this book actually happening. in 1956 at the age of korea was walking home with my fathers office at the institute for advanced study in princeton, new jersey when i found a broken fan belt lying in the road. i asked my father what it was. it's a piece of the sun he said. my father was a field eeriest and protége upon speed a comma
from a wartime leader of the theoretical division at los alamos who won except in his nobel prize and the carbon cycles who feel the stars and explained that have a lifecycle much like animals. they get born, go and finally they die and get back from the material so that new stars may live. to an engineer, fan belts exist between the crankshaft into a physicist in belts exist briefly in the intervals between stars. and then julian bigelow gets introduced. and now i will greet you beyond of the book. the basement store is a place where there is delegated to be out of everybody else's weight next to the boiler room.
the first workbenches were installed in 1946. the institute main server until recently connected to the outside world by some patina for optical fibers throughout 45 megabit per second switch. interpersonal of attempts to incubate so profligate in numerical organisms that dedicated network monitoring system now watches over all traffic trying to keep out the endless stream of propagating to kim and. the viruses are getting so intelligent that it's really an arms race the administrator in 2005 explain. it's watching the traffic as it goes by. the machines watch out for the machines. the arms race be the fault hall and now bloomberg will never be decided in favor of the completely deterministic over the probable is taken and completed. the wilderness, even on the
digital wilderness will always went. there are codes and machines that can do almost anything that can be given an exact description, but will never be possible simply by looking at a code with the code will do. no firewall admits even simple arithmetic can never be made complete. the digital universe will always leave room for more mysteries than even robert frasca dream i've come in the twilight zone remains. the 32 byte 40 mensheviks at the end of the lane was initialized and coated in constructions then given his hand at number with orders to go to that location and the next instruction which could've been the instruction tom at that it trusts. even from the end result. in november at 2000 khyber bucks turned up in a basin of the west building of the institute for the study were its presence had been overlooked. the smell of burning else
permeated the layer of recollection of woodwork to tell a printer service manuals that for something had not been thrown out when the maniacs input-output with which to punchcards for paper tape. underneath was a carton of ibm data person cards accompanied by a note written in pencil in half a sheet of lined paper disintegrated into several fragments identifying cards as torricelli's drum code with instructions for how should be loaded and ran on the 2048 high-speed magnetic drum. along with a stack of cards for three sheets of ledger paper filled with dense hand written code is specifying the laws of nature, governing the fossilized universe who is preserved in the state of suspended animation on the cars. here were the dead sea scrolls. the note accompanying the cars addressed mr. barrett shelley@twl concludes with the following statement. there must be something about
this code this you haven't explained yet. that's the end of the book. [applause] >> we have a shortage of many things in this country, george. engineers are among them. software, hardware, you name it. what i am now convinced that maybe one of our other great shortages is a diligent -- that intelligent and motivated historians who are going to go out i need to ask is an incredibly rare papers in these notes who really will help us understand the full scope of what is that in history and what the implications are for the future. >> i agree. we have living history here tonight. >> you want to talk a little bit about -- first of all, thank you to george dyson for doing that.
[applause] , not. come on over here. >> take a chair. explain what it was like to join this project at age 17. >> have a seat. you and george have a little conversation. just hold it up and i think you'd be just fine. there you go. >> george and i have had several conversations and perhaps it would be interesting to know how we not. i have a son in philadelphia and back in fort collins, colorado i met a woman whose father had been woodrow wilson's taylor when woodrow wilson was the president of princeton
university. imagine how long ago that was. and we -- she was going back to princeton for a high school reunion and we decided we would meet up princeton for lunch. but since i got there early, i went out to the institute and the receptionist, when i told her my little bit of history said why don't you go over to the light or he. you might be interested in what's over there. and what was over they are was a display of the institute electronic computer 50 years ago. and in the case, i found onionskin copies of letters with my initials at the bottom. you know, all those years later he probably didn't remember
writing those letters, but the librarian at the institute said they think you might like to meet george dyson because he is writing a book about the electronic computer project. i left my telephone number and the next day george telephoned and i came back to princeton and we've had a think of friendship ever since. and i got to -- i don't know if that's of any interest to you, but when i was 16 years old i graduated from a high school in philadelphia, william penn high school for girls and my parents, my father who was a greek immigrant made it very clear to me that i could not expect to go to college.
and as great girls found husbands and went to work and that was the end of it. but a counselor at the high school. i was at the top of my class. she said we've gotten a request for a secretary at the university of pennsylvania. and she sent me out there and i met dr. herman goldstein dressed in his ordinance uniform and his wife, adele katz goldstein. and for some reason, they hired this naïve girl who didn't even know algebra. and there i was thrown into this magic world that i think of as america all. and then after the antioch was
introduced, herman nfl invited me to go to princeton with tom. and for a year i commuted on the pennsylvania railroad from philadelphia to princeton junction. having a view -- i'm sure many of you have been to princeton. how many? look at all the hands. e.g. take the dinky? the train? you took the train from princeton junction and to princeton. and i did that for a long time. and then solomon wagner, who is -- it was a mathematician was going on a sabbatical to harvard and he wanted someone to stay with his wife. i get the privilege of living in the back their house a few blocks away from the institute where i had my own bathroom in my own bedroom and mrs. thought
her took me in hand. i was born a redhead. she said you look like a renoir painting and you should wear blue and green. so it changed my life as you can imagine. but just going downstairs today, i sigh a shot of me and the antioch display. so you never know where life takes you, do you? >> thank you. and to me -- [applause] all these papers at the student terribly disorganized. so we went down. let me organize them.
i didn't leave them in the state of disorder. and you don't have to pay me. just let me come in. but the archivists know they have to be preserved in the state in which they were found is that there still disorganized. >> i think one of things george talked about the institute itself. perhaps some of you have into the institute. but the institute is now uncertainly up that time was a very unique place. it was founded at the hamburger family, who were -- to all department stores in newark. and i think -- and george can correct me. they certainly saw what was coming in europe and they both professor einstein and von neumann and herman denial and the names that are all in his trade books brought them to the institute to this absolutely
beautiful landscape. i remember seeing professor einstein walking wet curt caddell coming to the institute and one christmas the direct tour of the institute who was frank adalat, who had been president of the university invited all the secretaries to his house to the mansion and i was the youngest. i was probably 17 in all the other women were a much older and much more experienced. and there was a knock on the door and professor einstein came in with helen ducasse, churches babysitter and had tea with us.
and i am embarrassed to say i don't remember a word he said. [laughter] [applause] and one other thing i remember was that professor von neumann and george's boat talks about a wonderful parties that the von neumann's. and one time they incited the computer group to go and i were my prettiest by dress. and as i say, i had bright red hair and i got to dance with jay robert oppenheimer. [laughter] can anybody else say that? [applause] >> thank you so much. [applause]
one other quick thing. you are telling me earlier that you're thinking about writing your memoir, writing a book good to talk about that and especially the title. >> today i don't think young women are called secretaries. they are called administrative assistants. they have pretty fancy titles. but in 1946, i was only the secretary. and i think that's what i want to title my little memoir because you can do a lot of good as a secretary. i don't say you're very important, that they need you. and all of you probably have had secretaries. were they important to you? [applause] and i also had a wonderful
california. this is an hour 15 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> biographies sonata biographies. the computer field was quite young, but already there were people like kent olson, gordon bell who had done incredible work. >> i think we've got a wonderful story of evolution computing. it's then a great, great dane. the computer is the greatest invention ever. >> even before my time tonight. they heard of or seen what they
look like. look at the nomenclature of the switches and thinking if we could use them. >> the industry has made different changes in a few decades in printing over the centuries. >> when a sister student at m.i.t., we'll add a computer that took up half the building in 1974 and cost tens of millions of dollars. the computer and your cell phone today is a million times cheaper in a thousand times more powerful. >> we are recording the events of history contemporaneously. rarely in history to have a chance to do that. wouldn't you love to be looked at your michelangelo talk about what it was like to paint the sistine chapel. >> this is a remarkable place. it's an important thing. >> that's what a museum that is about, being able to understand
the history of what's been happening and to see it and feel it. >> when i was a graduate student status complaining about the borough's architecture, my faculty member told me, study it. even if you don't like it, do something exceptional in there that got be successful. you need to know if that is. that's at the computer history museum is all about. >> good evening, everyone welcome to the museum. i'm john hollar and it's a pleasure to welcome you here on behalf of the trustees, staff, volunteers, everyone who worked so hard to make this a special kind of place you just heard people describe. how many of you have been here to an event before? how do you like the new setup? [applause] i wish i could say this is a
permanent fixture of events at the computer history museum, but i do have to give credit to her good friends at google doing a big conference here starting at 9:00 tomorrow morning. and when we were trying to work out logistics, we said you see we have our thing and then we have your thing that google was very generous and said will set up early and let you use it. but thanks to our friends at google for the wonderful av. [applause] soon k. so if to our members and saying i wish they would stop wasting my money on this fancy chairs, i just want to update your concerns. this is part of our revolutionary series, our speaker series that began the launch of the revolution of the first passengers competing downstairs. we've taken the first 13 of them serious and made them into a television program airing every monday night on kqed. the series has been in hiatus
but will be returning on monday, april 2nd, next monday with jane smiley talking about her great book, the man who invented the computer about for biographies wrapped into one. intel is providing major support for the speaker series and i want to thank them for their generosity. kappler's is here for the bookselling which happens after the show i was happy to have kappler's partner for that. c-span's booktv is here as well so this will become part of the c-span booktv series which is regularly featured in the museum now that will be part of the schedule still have to check in the future. our friends at kqed assam and this will air on radio next week. april 4 at 8:00 p.m. so you can hear the rebroadcast of tonight show. the book signing will follow this in the lobby. your question cards on your chairs. we definitely want to hear from you tonight. as you hear john get into his discussion of the book have created jot down discussions
about colette is in a bit. let me remind you that hashed out for tonight is idea factory. this is completely change the culture of people like me is to say on the stage. we used to say things like turn off your cell phones. now we don't think enough for cell phones. we say please tweaked and post on facebook, but remember yourselves and make noise, so please make sure that does not happen. now for tonight's program. there is a reason john gertner entitled his book "the idea factory" because for the better part of the 20th century, that is precisely what bell labs represented. he recruited some of the nation's greatest innovative engineering minds that provided them with a very special hothouse for technical creativity and produced some significant breakthroughs. we're lucky here at the museum to have replicas that two of the most significant breakthroughs that were produced at bell labs. the first is a model k. after.
the model k. is the electronic calculator fashioned by george said this at a lapse in 1936 good he called it the model k. because the case stood for kitchen table. which is where he assembled it from bits of tin cans and relayed via taken from bell labs. a computer to binary digits and this is a replica du jour circuits built in 1880 and to manage the museum. this is part of the revolution exhibit. of course the first transistor, the invention that changed everything. shop regarding a brat and design from two closely spaced gold contacts pressed onto the surface of a slab of high purity germanium. this too is an artifact donated to the museum from mortgage bert's junior. as a replica of the original still at bell labs.
john gertner has managed to capture his book all the bell labs represented and they are qualities that are often this is needed with silicon alley, inspired problem-solving, breakthrough design, visionary management, culture of creativity, the ability to focus on a short-term issue while keeping one eye on the long-term possibility. or as he puts it, and that builds upon the notion that a team which understood it to elegy could create advances that were not simply useful, the revolutionary. he has used all of his skills as a writer for both fast company and "the new york times" magazine to give us a ripping good yarn which has the right balance in my view between technical explanations and human drama. but then tonight for this conversation is a very good friend of the museum, kqed stay virus in. many of you know the host of kqed assam forum on friday morning freakily appears as a moderator and were glad to welcome him back.
it is a gentleman, welcome -- join me in welcoming dave gertner and dave iverson. ♪ [applause] >> good evening, all. thank you for coming today. john kenneth thank you for coming and for the introduction. it's a fascinating book for those of you now have the had the opportunity to read and it gets so many interesting things i think about our culture and our time. and i would like to ask if you would, john, just to begin by reading the first paragraph of the book from "the idea factory" of bell labs in the idea innovation because it lays out what is so significant. >> it does mention google i should mention, but that's eerily coincidental. this book is about the origins
of modern communications seen through the adventures of several manufacturers working at all telephone laboratories. even more this book is about innovation and how it happened, why it happened, who makes it happen. it's likewise about what innovation matters than that just scientists and engineers and corporate executives that all of us has a story about bell labs and even more specifically the 1930s in the mid-1970s isn't a coincidence. and the decades before the country's best minds became migrating west to california silicon valley, and many came east to new jersey where they were doing brick and glass buildings located on grassy campuses where deerwood creates twilight. at the peak of its reputation in the late 1960s, bell labs employs 15,000 people come including some 1200 phd's. its ranks include the world's most brilliant and eccentric men and women. the time before google the
lab.the intellectual utopia where the future, which is what we now have been called the president was conceived and designed. for a long stretch of the 20th century, bell labs was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. so many ways relate to think that it all happened right here within just a stone's throw of this building. is it fair to think of bell labs that silicon valley? >> i think so. and meantime it's it all happen here and that it all happened there. have been there a little before it happened here. some of the things you see now in the valley i think the kind of freedom given engineers and researchers, the small teams attacking big albums within larger ecosystems that could help support them with advice, with money, with all sorts of other things. a lot of factors go back to that formula at the labs, the near-term thinking and long-term
thinking as john said in the introduction and giving autonomy to people who are very capable. >> give us some sense of all the things that came out of a lapse in those glory years. john mentioned that things you did hear the museum, the transistor and the adder. but the list is impressive. just rattle off some of the things that grew out of that. >> sure. the labs began in 1925 years of research and development lane of the telephone company. but a lot of my book is really focused on the postwar years, the heyday really began in 1947 with the invention of the transistor, point contact transistor that walter grattan, pretty soon after the junction transistor and a host of other kinds of trains testers, trained worcester prop his feet get -- after that a lot happened very quick succession. there is a silicon over
sovereign state in 1954, which is a precursor for solar panels today. there was digital communications, looking at coding and channel capacity, communications satellite originally designed and begun at bell labs. the first was because satellite, the passive so-called satellite and telstar, inactive communications satellite. the munich operating system of the same language came out of bell labs. the ccd chip, and the charge coupled device, which is really the fundamental unit for digital photography and i saw those. the theory of the laser. a lot of the or room temperature lasers came out of bell labs, which are still essential to fiber-optic communications as well as in every dvd player. it was a pretty big list. >> 30 big list. >> and how did that happen to
come out of ma bell. what is the significance of the name? how did that matter that would lead to the trail of all of those things you just described quite >> a little bit of history would probably help. bell labs actually was formed after the phone company had been around for about 45 years. at&t was a monopoly that controls 80% 9% of telephone service in the united states. they're a vertically integrated company. they owned one of the largest manufacturing come is in the world, western electric as well. in the early years, in the beginning of the 20th century, western electric sound engineering departments in at&t its parent company had its own engineering department. there's a bit of tension and competitiveness between the two. in 1925 he agreed they would create a stand-alone lab, bell laboratories as a sort of auto
box on the vertical stack of the company. so ideas that come out of bell labs, ideas and development. they would be transferred to western blot trick, the manufacturing part of the company and eventually be deployed by at&t, which controlled the long-distance lines as well as about 23 either parts or whole of the operating telephone companies. >> some of the problems -- you read a lot about it being a problem which environment. i want to spend time talking about that. give us some sense of the early problems to contend with. but there was no dial tone. very basic problems have to be solved. >> everything. early phones use batteries. the ringers, no hang up being. the amount of detail that went into designing operator headsets for these women with status switchboards, teams of people at work on problems for years. teams of comments as i talk about in the book would work on
cheating for cable. other teams work on insulation between sheathing and cables. there was a level of detail, and amount of work pretty much unless. the problems cut proliferating. >> was a sort of a first time when science was deployed to solve this source says products? >> their ways. there is a very small research department at the beginning and of course bell labs was not a huge primitive people in that department. there is 10% to 15% working in basic research and the vast majority were working in development. they were booking near-term and mostly engineers, whereas most of the science phd's are in the research department. the research department started out very small. in the book they talk about how its great success with the early vacuum tubes that could amplify
sound signals in the early part of the 20th century really great cat ability to small research department at bell labs. they succeeded in deploying across country phone link and from then on the research department at the labs grew and grew and worked my fundamentally on the science. >> what is integral to its growth? you list these amazing statistics. 15,000 people dead or peered at one time over several thousand phd's. was that this soldier that process there were so many problems? with a an offense for problems? >> the question of what made bell labs is an interesting one and i always say there's not one reason, but that is a pink one of the main reasons they are connected to a come at me with everyday practical problems and even for people working in applied research and even those
working in basic research on these really far-reaching problems. the notion that work was attached to a company, that it could be practically implemented and they were dealing with everyday problems was an incredible catalyst. >> is an argument for monopoly? >> i've been accused of being a monopolist. i wrote a draft of the book and then i wonder, e.g. no one can read this book and think for monopolist, today? i added a line and say most obvious there's a reason for monopoly now. but apparently some people skipped over that line. no, it's not an argument, although it is a matter of pasting personally for me sitting with the contradiction the mess we've come to understand that the anopheles are not good for consumers. given a choice, can increase the cost of technology come a slow the rate of innovation. at this point in time during
this. the united states but telecommunications was developed, monopoly i think arguably was very good in the country that accreted bell labs and the like to think long-term on these very vexing problems. >> part of the reason i asked the question is part of what comes through in the book is the sense that people had freedom, time, they had teams to work together. there wasn't necessarily the sense that we have to get this done tomorrow. that came in a sense because they had a captured market, right? they didn't have to worry about competition. >> they had money. yes, they did. been attached to a monopoly gave them time. things built by at&t and western electric were meant to stay in service for 30 to 40 years. which is what i now think of a market product have analyzed the year or two or three years am i
me before, these were built to last. >> even telephone calls, right? >> that's right. bell labs was a just one line. it was a few labs in new jersey and in a small laboratory and chester, new jersey which was the town with very phone calls halfway up and would spend years putting contest go first to see if they would need through the cables that want to make sure they have the best cable. it was a company in pursuit of excellence with their money to pursue the excellent than the time and the luxury of time. >> it is interesting because as we come back to the thought of how it was different and significant ways from the mantra that we think of here in silicon valley as you reference in a recent "new york times" tori
quoting mark sachar burke of facebook saying they must move faster break things. and it seems second families who have this interesting contrast between bell labs, started the bigamous low versus the quick and the nimble. i mean, as part of your argument is of value to being big and slow? >> i think so. i don't think one is bigger than the other. but the balance is valuable for its proven really valuable. i really like living in a world with facebook and google and i use them both. i think bell labs could move fast at times for telstar, which is a project and very much under the gun and is actually organized in a matter of months to see if they could achieve this theory difficult engineering problem and a very quick time frame. what i do think that it's worth passing that question which i asked in "the new york times"
piece, whether we need more of a balance of work that long-term, long-range slower command may be more methodical we don't get there as fast. we don't get satisfied as fast because sometimes many breakthroughs to, about to create new industries as they did in the case of bell labs. >> with talk about one canister to the case study example. the one john mentioned in his introduction about the creation of the transistor in 1947. you reference this quote from bill gates in which he said if you had the ability to take part in time travel, the first step would be bell labs in november of 1947. so set the stage for us. why would it be bill gates would want to go there then? what was going on that made it such a rich and inviting place? >> if he got in the time travel machine you would go back to new
jersey, which you live in california you might not want to go back to. but it is a very nice place actually a maker of pretty close to there. it is leafy unweighted msa campus that was here pair of what these are working on was the phone company have essentially two elements in it that were especially problematic one was telephone switches which were relays this click to open and close. when we saw the george david's model, they broke all the time. there were millions within the phone system to connect callers to each other and they were slow. they moved. mervyn kelley come and meet character my book stopped bill shockley, someone who was just tired of the year before is that if there's one thing we could
do, if we could just replace the switches with something electronic, it would just be a tremendous advantage for the phone company. in addition to switches the results of vacuum tubes. kelley also spent the early part of his life working on vacuum tubes. these vast amount of power as people know they've roped fairly often. they did not pretty cool. you had to warn them not. those two were in the part of repeating phone calls to get them further distances. so switches, vacuum tubes and in turn kelley created this solid-state team in 1945 right after world war ii. within a couple years to get to that time travel moment. this was a team of people working, co-led by bill shockley. attack attack for a second about what the team was, mervin kelly head of researchers that do
not -- it might sound obvious today, but he did something very radical in greediness. he made it unusually interdisciplinary. he didn't just want physicists working with other physicists. he very much believe that new knowledge comes from the interfaith of different disciplines. he wanted this electrical engineers working together come experimentalists, tears, the owners, people are extroverted, introverted. and in that sense, you thought that would be the best way of attacking that problem. the second thing he did which was rather interest dean is kelley has spent his entire career. in fact he built his entire reputation on vacuum tubes in making them better. easter rabbit vacuum tube shop for western a lot great and creating this team to create what ultimately resulted in the transistor was kind of attacking the innovators dilemma head-on.
if they succeed it would render his entire career in science, if eventually irrelevant, which immediately seems rather courageous. >> heels to do something interesting and upsetting the apple cart of who is in charge. he was aware that upset people and he was going to take some risks. not only bringing people together and disciplined, but also not necessarily going by seniority. can i keep it the youngest people with the most expertise and quantum mechanics and the physicists who are most recently really in charge of his career and leadership positions in the old guard, some of them were denoted effectively and there is a quote in manner that there are people cry and office says. it is a revolution that they caught it. >> there is also, you see at one point that the purpose of this solid-state group was not so much to build some team has to
understand it. so this idea that it wasn't like we've got to get this done tomorrow. it was a scientific pursuit. >> it was a scientific pursuit. some of the men in the back of their minds that they would be a device that they could understand it. again, it kind of goes back to the mervin kelly philosophy. in the early part of kelly's career, he shared an office with a guy named dave s., whose name may be familiar. in the early days in the teens and 20s, charlie and david shared an office mayor elect the original odd couple. they were this fast-moving, he was paired with clinton davis into a slow-moving climatic, weighed about 110 pounds. he was always said. he would go home and sit in a
stocking cap and write equations in a note. and that kelley developed this kind of offer davis and i realized that nobody else did the answers to a problem that labs, especially a problem involving the science of what was going on with the problematic device, nobody answered that davis incurred. in party not just advice on how to fix something, but imparting a deeper understanding on his colleagues. they could not just be twice as good. they could create improvements in the word they were doing by orders of magnitude and understanding something was power essentially. >> there's one path where you talk about mervyn kelley and he said at one point, kelley would not want to begin a project is focusing on what was known. he would want to begin by focusing on what was not known. the difficult and contrary to produce a more common practice to proceed with what technology would allow to fill in the gaps
afterwards. kelley was akin to saying locate the missing puzzle pieces first and then do the rest. >> i think i summed up in many ways by the transistor team was created and what its goals were. understand that we don't know when we will solve the puzzle. >> tell us something more about bill shockley's road, who of course is known here and in the end became intimate to them anyway spurred the series he took in matters of race. what was his role in this? tell us something about the the competitiveness of him that he in some ways kind of violated the norm of the battle lab by the way in which he ran after them. >> it was an intensely collaborative group. this is an era before cubicles. there is an open door policy. no one was to be refused if i still matter how well known or famous you were. and this solid-state group that
began in 1945 and culminated with the invention of the transistor, shockley is the coleader sort of let the work, but yet when bardeen and walter brattain resulted in the contact transistor, shockley became envious, jealous and became himself fascinated by the idea of improving the idea that was their work already. shortly after resulted in something called the junction transistor. and shockley -- the rule of a lapse not only was open door, but you are not too good key with the people you managed. a nobel prize winner, phil andersen when i interviewed him for the books that you know, this was the transgression shockley made and could never be forgiven. and set him on a path they think increasingly -- well in the
weeks after that in the months after this the transistor team was intensely collaborative, very cohesive, broke apart. john bardeen went to illinois to become a professor. bratton left working the shockley to pursue his own projects. eventually, shockley was stuck in the middle management position at a lab. i mean, it was very clear to the management to mervin kelly, who i just mention that was never going to succeed at managing people and it was a matter of using shockley's readability is an analyte the best they could. he became increasingly frustrated with eight at 91855 he decided to leave and come out here and start shockley her and everybody in this room as he hires some pretty good people. >> there was at least some implication in your book that
while his career sort of one-off in various directions than an wound up in some degree as i mentioned before with the controversy if not infamy, but if he had stayed at the labs that might have been contained. the part of him, whatever kind of flaw he might've had might've been contained if you deep within the mark of the job round of bell labs. >> yeah, in a conversation with dean rossi had made that argument. i think it's an interesting argument. i don't know. it's a hypothetical. knowing something about shockley's care to do spending a lot of time reading, researching and talking to people who knew him, i wonder if he could have been satisfied staying in opposition. he increasingly wanted to pursuecome as maybe all of us do, more and more ambitious goals and to stay in a kind of
middle management position or even just a pure research physician like some other on the book, for instance, claude shannon with no inspiration to manage people at all. he just wanted to do his work. there was this other model, clinton davis and come a kelly's best friend who is really a pure researcher, there were these other folks revered a labs were not in the management track. it held a very high stature, but i'm not sure shockley would've ever chose not per could have by temperament. >> coming back to the transistor for a moment commented bell labs know what it had? >> that is a question that fascinated me. at the time -- i mean, there is some -- there's history that says they didn't. everything that i read definitely says they did. in fact come the day after the transistor since failing, the president of a labs, even after it had been buried in "the new
york times" on page 46% came comments that have been not seem as if kind of huge breakthrough. [inaudible] >> i don't think were good at seeing breakthroughs when they happen. and in that case committee after the president of bell labs, buckley had written a note to his former boss, the first president of bell labs instead come of this book is very important to us. and if you look at the internal correspondence that was coming and to the researchers at bell labs at the time i really every other major corporation was writing to them, baking for samples. rca, zenith, the big electronic companies at the time sending letters not just one guy, but thinking maybe if we send them to give us one of the so we can test it.
the consent decree of the united states government only allow them to use their technology for telephone applications which were military operations. it is true that they could have, theoretically, kept this to themselves. even though they have this monopoly status, there was some internal correspondence at the time. they felt it was too big and too significant, which almost enters the previous question, too, that i was so big that they had to share it. that the idea that this essentially public funded laboratory to keep this technology to itself, it would not have been acceptable. >> let's ask you something and then we will talk about innovation and how you proceed there period it is worth noting that they had a few misses, right? described picturephone. >> yes, they had a lot of misses. the transistor team had a lot of misses leading up to the breakthrough.
i think anybody who works in the innovative processes knows that failure is a huge part of that. it almost always precedes success. again, there were misses and failures that failed in the marketplace disastrously. the picturephone is just one of the incredibly expensive follies that did a big, huge belly flop. as usual, it was great engineers who are working on it, and it was a visual communications device that is going to change the world. we would all be communicating by picturephone, within 10 or 20 years after it was ruled out. pretty soon after, within 12 months or 18 months, i think something like 40 people had signed up for it and the failure became pretty apparent. i interviewed some of the guys who worked on the picturephone.
some of them would make the case that skype and google chat best we were right. i think it is true that the idea that you can be early and be wrong -- it proves that idea. that is part of innovation, to. >> and so what you take from that? as you think about what we learn on those misses, where did they go wrong? what was it that led them not path of the picturephone without some sort of self correction? do you rule things out to pursue those things? where their strengths also their weakness, because you had time, you could also turn out something that could be a folly? >> i think so. i think there were different kinds of failures that occurred or different kinds of misses, for instance, the fiber optic breakthrough came through from corning and not the last. fls they were pursuing something called the waveguides which was
going to carry signals through a hollow pipe that was specially designed. i talked about in the book whether these are mistakes of perception of what the future will be, or whether mistakes of judgment. i think the picturephone was a mistake of judgment in many ways. somebody who worked on it just talk to me and said to me, convincingly, that none of us who are working on it believed it could fail. >> isn't in part been, a place where there wasn't a consequence to failure? someone you may know runs the parkinson's institute. he quoted something was that the process is going up an alley to see if they are blank. if they are listening to you, there are wonderful things that come from that. but also it allows for you to go
down blind alleys. >> i think one of the characters in my book that i spent a lot of time writing about was john pierce who actually finished year his career at stanford and work at caltech and worked at bell labs for most of his career. i went through his papers, and i came across something he had written a few years before he died. he was considering writing a book about the last, and he tried to take apart what made it work. he had a four-part formula, and one of those was that a researcher could terminate the research without damaging the researcher. there should be no consequences for failure, so to speak. again, that is probably that there are specific failures and systemic failures, which i think, the picturephone maybe closely represented by that.
there were not -- there was enough money that the consequences were not ever going to be dire. >> let me ask you one more thing about the process of discovery. and then we will start getting to some of your questions as well. the right early in the book, jon, about the eureka moment. i want to read this one passage. it seems so applicable to what happened at bell labs. we usually imagine that an invention and kurds in a flash a eureka moment that leads to a startling epiphany. in truth, largely forward technology rarely happens at a precise point of origin. the forces that proceed an invention online, often imperceptibly, as a group of people and ideas converge over the course of months or years or even decades to gain clarity and momentum. so much of what happened at bell
labs was not a eureka moment. it really was this collection as a whole in the end, it was the product of the sum of the product, and even more so as the sum of the product. >> i think so. they were building on things, especially in the early days, out of breakthroughs in europe, for instance, at the time. that alignment of ideas that attrition of ideas and discovery leading up to something big was really just a matter of course for science and engineering. >> you think that we are lacking that now? .ability to allow more than just for the eureka moment? to allow for that unfolding? >> i find myself having to take
up the writer had been put on the pundit hat. it has been a difficult process. [laughter] i think that is a reality check, we still fund a terminus amount of research and development in this country to the tune of something like $150 billion a year. a lot of echoes to research in the military, a lot of it goes to nasa, a great chunk of it goes to medical research and smaller amounts go to basic research is a more disturbing amount now. we look to universities and national laboratories where venture capital firms fund businesses like the shorter time horizon. it is as good or effective as what we have had? i don't know. there definitely gains or possibly some losses. sometimes i wonder if we should
talk about it is a rich incompetent problem, and i have been to manufacturing conferences in washington. people in the white house talked about our losses in manufacturing, and how that was a vital part of bell labs and western electric too. but they have this ability to not just invent but to develop and bring these things to manufacturing that required require great expertise. >> you make the point also in your book, that one of the problems was outsourcing. you lose that connection. the connection between creativity and product. and you lose the chance for the interdisciplinary, walking down the hallway, we bump into that leads to something else. >> andy grove made the case eloquently in business a couple of years ago. there is a great harvard business review article about the manufacturing echo system and these sort of feedbacks to
innovation. i think it is true and arguable that ineffectual moves, but eventually, development and research can move along with it. i think that, for instance, we may have been talking about the battery industry and the lithium-ion industry, which is now really located abroad in asia. to some extent, that is true. certainly with the semiconductor and led lighting industry. there is that danger that he was manufacturing and that ability to manufacture, then you have to be concerned about better aspects of your innovation economy, too. >> there's one more question i want to ask jon. but let's get to some of your question as well. if you haven't had time to ask your question, write it down and give it to the people who are going to collect them. how many nobel prize winners to see coming out of twitter, facebook and google? [laughter]
[laughter] [laughter] >> do i have to answer that? [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] >> there are certainly great people there. i wonder, you know, i worked in a magazine company that covers a lot of the industry, and i use those products, and they are very cool. i certainly don't think every company or even any company we could talk about basic research -- should invest in that -- i don't think that facebook should start hiring theoretical physicist read that doesn't make a lot of sense. but i don't know if they should be pursuing that, but there is that too. >> you to the end of the book towards a question of what would people in the lab think of these sorts of innovations today. what was your conclusion about
that? conclusion about that hypothetical? >> in writing the book, i wrestled with this question a lot. i wrestled with it before i even started writing, of what is innovation. as a writer, we use the term now for almost anything. we have this big thing we call it innovation and we call it and he gets thrown around a lot. it is hard to understand what is innovation when it involves the definition that is widely used. you can never go to the store and buy a bell labs innovation or product, it was the stuff inside of it. it was platform innovation on which the phone system was built and other industries were built, too. so these innovations were different. in some ways, i think the consumer innovations we think of now, it is not necessarily one being better than the other.
they are both necessary, but they are different kinds of innovation, at least as i see it. >> thank you for answering the question. >> i hope i gave they give a good answer, anyway. [laughter] [laughter] >> what would these guns into facebook? >> i think that they would -- i imagine they would see it as an amazing beauticians platform that has swept the world. the groups of that success is a huge market and leadership -- and membership. the question i pose in the book is, is that the kind of platform that you build industries or technologies or thousands of hundreds of thousands of millions of jobs that come out of that, and i think that is a more competent question.
and i think that is a good question. i don't know if i have an answer to it yet, but i don't think -- it is something to think about. >> here's a question about with the monopoly, is there some sort of suggestion that will take the place of bell labs? >> i don't think that we want to go back in time. i don't know -- certainly from the point of my book was never to create another bell labs in that sense. i think the ss, at least for me, is its value, in this ability to think long-term solving of problems. you could make it about ibm, you could make it about nasa, you could make it about the manhattan project, and i think
from my point of view, at least, right now, the really big problems are an energy. are we solving those kinds of problems? i'm not sure that we are. but i think that we need to. >> here is a question. [inaudible question] it ended in 1944 when kelly began hiring the first jews of employees. you actually point out that bell labs did not struggle with anti-semitism in the way that the larger society there. expand upon that point and to what degree that went on? >> no, it is a great question, and unfortunately, there is no anti-semitism file in the at&t archives to chart this thing. i found bits and pieces from interviews. sometimes off the record with
people trying to piece it together. i think i can say fairly certainly that this strain of anti-semitism was stronger in the main parts of the phone company in bell labs than it ever was, especially at at&t. but starting in the war after -- there is some evidence of because of that, there is a memo in the archives about a blatant case of one of the labs preeminent engineers telling people that he doesn't like jews. it is kind of a shocking memo to read nowadays. the war effort did sort of break down the barrier very much at the labs. honestly, a great thing. it also brought women into more roles as well. there were so many people involved in the war effort but by necessity it happened, and
the management of the labs never looked back after that. it is certainly a laudable thing. >> the question is bell labs versus ibm research. why did one survived, and what was the difference? >> that is an interesting question. i wish i knew. i know some about ibm research. i wish i knew more. i think it is clear that bell labs didn't survive because he gained its energy and sustenance by being attached to the monopoly. i can answer that part of the question, that it could not survive in its form without that attachment and without that relationship. when the phone company was broken apart, in the early 1980s -- after that, the revenues declined dramatically in a stream of real-world problems and the ability to
justify its investments in scientific research which became difficult as time went on. on ibm research, one thing that is interesting to me, one of the characters that i talk about went to work for ibm research right after you retired from bell labs. he was going around the country and going to europe to interview the researchers then write these confidential reports for the ceo, and try to deliver to him his conclusions about what ibm research should be continuing and who the rising rising stars were. at least as he saw it. >> given that bell labs was generally good at innovation, how do they miss the first major innovation in the primary field, namely switching. >> that is a good question, too. how did they miss? i think they missed a bunch of
things. i don't think that -- you know, i hope nobody comes away thinking that they are perfect. they miss the integrated circuit. they missed the fiber optic cables, too. they made decisions over what to pursue and what not pursue. in any highly competitive industry, you, you know, are eventually going to miss something big. >> how does a similar program work any non-monopoly environment where products must justify their existence and their profits? >> i don't know if they can, to be honest. i don't know how you can capture the value of basic research when you are a public company for infants and come and you are investing in that kind of risky, so to speak, research. on such a large scale. which is, i think, why
government steps in to that rule. >> talk about color buntin couple of other things and then we will talk more if you have more to say. a couple of other case studies that are interesting and indicative about what we are exploring about. one of them is the creation or the story of figuring out cell phone transmission. which seems like essentially science by driving around. describe what went on in order to figure out the concept of the cell phones. >> i mean, the southern story, which actually was one of the parts of writing and researching the book, by that time, it wasn't just small teams of people working on the problems in the lab. it was dozens and hundreds of people working on a very, very big system project. there were different kinds of people working on different aspects of the cellular
telephone problem. there were system home engineers working in new jersey on it. there were also those working at home dell as well. they would drive over new jersey and in the early 1970s, you know, can you hear me now? sort of stuff. [laughter] [applause] >> it was not completely understood what happened when you drive through a forest or into a tunnel. when you drive near a mountain in the distance. it was not known how far your transmission to travel. these were very difficult questions. one of the most interesting aspects, i think, in the cell phone ever was some of the people who solve the problems actually came from bell labs military work. one guy in particular spent a lot of time with me talking, and he had done a lot of work on
discriminatory radar in the south pacific where bell labs had a small facility working with western electric. at the time, he had come back from this tour of duty where he worked on this highly sophisticated system, came back to bell labs, and then the labs so they were going to discontinue the thing that he was doing. some and suggested that he talked to the people working on cellular. maybe we have something for them. again, it was part of the serendipity of bell labs. he was the guy with a kind of knowledge that very few people in the world had at that one point in time. they adopted him into the project. soon enough, he had abandoned he was going down to philadelphia and had cleared out the van and the stuff that was done -- a lot of electronic equipment, and they would test all the signals to make the working cell phone system go.
>> and the history of the creation of the satellite, because it is such a science simulation. you write that there were probably 16 different groups, i guess, and one was going back to 1937. again, it is not the eureka moment, but it is a collective enterprise. >> yes, i think so. and i think that that, perhaps is a misunderstanding. i would make the case that we can just look at our smartphones and have the same kind of, you know, understanding. but truly it is not. it can't be. it is this incredible integration of so many -- so much work over the past 60 years. so many people working hard on these things, so many improvements on the breakthroughs and all integrated into one beautifully designed a phenomenal product. >> one of the things that is great about jon gertner is you
get a sense of all these different characters. this is an individual by the name of claude elwood shannon. >> that's right. there was a statistician who suggested it. he's a very famous person as well. >> this is claude shannon, i just want to read this portion and then john can describe what makes them interesting. >> when you're his wife gave him a unicycle is a gift. shannon quickly begin writing, and then he began building his own unicycle is to challenge himself to see how smart he could make one that could still be road. when he was in the office, shannon would take a break from his work and write his unicycle up and down the hallway of bell labs. he would not at the passerby.
he would go up and down the hall to. he was a man who rarely showed up on time for work, who often played chess or fiddled with machines all day, complete who frequently went down the hall juggling her pogoing, he didn't care what anyone thought of him or period it seemed obvious that he had the flexibility of an artist even though he was categorized as a scientist. such a wonderful description. for a guy that was pogoing down the hallway -- it's wonderful. >> yeah, it really was. he had earned that kind of ability, i think, to be eccentric. when i talk about the open door policy at bell labs, he was the only person who i ever heard of who actually close their door and nobody complained. in 1948, there were various
traditions that became known as information theory, he was really treated were understood to be special. there were other people that had eccentricity, but shannon was more flamboyant about it. >> he sounds more like. [inaudible] >> yeah, i think that's right. i think that's right that he was ahead of his time in so many ways. and probably that way as well. >> and his fundamental contributions. the communication was only as good as the container it went through? >> you know, i guess the best way to explain the theory of the commission is to say that he looked at what you call the channel capacity of a system for sending messages.
and he explained how you can measure capacity and how you could make sure you could overcome the noise in any system. and also, that work led to what would be called aircraft in code so you could essentially send any message with virtual perfection with these error correcting codes. shannon was a fierce individual that was not sit in developing these ideas practically. for instance, with the error correcting codes or digital communications. bell labs was working on something called tcm, which shannon also wrote a long paper about. but he wasn't interested in developing them to be used in the system. he just was very interested in developing the idea. >> that is part of what is interesting about bell labs. in some sense, it was like an ivory tower, but it has been
equivalent to a 10 year cycle, and the people. >> absolutely. a lot of the folks who are working in research would tell me that it is better than academia because for them, they didn't have to apply for grants. for one thing, they had the money they could use were expert for experimentation if they needed to. and you didn't have to teach practicum. so you have this freedom to work on your work. >> what is or was the relationship between bell labs and princeton? >> bell labs in princeton? as far as i know there was very little. eventually, some of the bell labs people went to princeton, so i understood, after they did, -- at least as far as in that time period between 1945 in 1982, there is not really any
significant arrangement that i'm aware of. >> also, the relationship to princeton, would be akin to things like sr, those connections? >> in those things i talk about bell labs executives. they were there with the vitality of california pretty early on. in 1960s, they hired someone who is the dean of stanford who helped with william shockley. the great about echo system of entrepreneurs. they hired bill baker in new jersey, and said can we create some sort of analog here in new jersey. there were problems with new jersey, as i understand it, at least with princeton's science program was perhaps too theoretically oriented. geography wasn't necessarily suitable. it was to spread out between
bell labs and other companies and pharmaceutical companies, there was this whole plan for something called summit university which was going to be modeled after caltech. it was going to be in northern new jersey. he remained a plan. it was expensive. bell labs decided they couldn't fund it and it was shelved? how and why is the government regulated monopoly at&t, more innovative than a government monopoly? >> that is a good question. it is a beautiful question. >> how did they get the idea to. [inaudible] i don't remember how to pronounce that. >> in the days before that they were trying silicon and and
types in pjs. they didn't use the word doping. it was before they use that phrase. he thought it would be the best thing they could use. he had a set of it but he could use. he took out the experiment. >> bell labs was funded by the monopoly revenue of at&t. the government regulators allowed the left to be added to every phone bill. an equivalent would be an explicit tax on telephone service and the proceeds going to r&d would never pass congress today. >> can you read the first part of him? >> the government regulators love the cost of bell labs to be added to every phone bill. >> that's right. about one to one and a half percent of every person's phone bill went to bell labs. it was like a national
laboratory, in that sense, it was funded by, not totally the taxpayers, but by phone subscribers. that is right. for better or worse. >> was that mandatory being subscribed? >> yes. >> we won't go there. [applause] >> worded the at&t marketing innovation come from? was that bell labs? this is an interesting thing. they didn't have to go out and sell. >> that is true. they were really good at selling the image as mother bell as a benign entity. where did it come from? >> where did the marketing information come from for the phone company? was that from bell labs? >> no, there was no marketing there. >> as far as the human factor, it is possible -- i'm not aware
of anything coming out of there that they used for marketing, but it is probably unlikely it. >> were there any patent disputes that came out of the invention of the transistor and who receive the royalties? >> there was a complicated patent story, especially with william shockley's device where he tried to patent it. i don't know if i should go into particulars. after it came out, as far as i know, in terms of challenges known, i don't remember there being any litigation or challenges to their patent. and they went fairly smoothly through. >> is a former bell labs employee, remember that all new products require tariff approval, that could delay product rollout for a year. did you encounter that in her interviews? >> i'm not sure i fully understand the question. so if i am not reading it right,
my apologies. so was there a tear for approval on a delay product rollout? >> i'm not sure which. that person is talking about. what when we need you read about in early history, they were local operating companies that wanted to raise rates. i don't know if that is what we are talking about in this particular question. but there was a constant kind of tension of at&t and the local operating companies, for instance in california, i read 300 riveting pages of testimony from the 1950s where there -- they were explaining why they need to put a higher rate in place. >> most of the other questions are about the chief actors in innovation. it's been the remaining moments on that factor.
if we could walk through those. is it starting with this idea of giving something time? and then bringing together a multidisciplinary approach to this environment? >> i think that those were -- at least with bell labs at that moment in time -- with different people working in different kinds of innovation, i think having practical problems, whether you are working on them or not -- i think it is incredibly vital. the multidisciplinary aspect is essential to their approach to it. their approach to problem solving. i think of freedom, for some researchers is incredibly useful. i don't want to -- sometimes innovations occur not because of what management is allowing people to do, but because the researchers decided they were going to defy management.
there are at least a few instances of that occurring. and yet that was sometimes allowable as well. money is very important. money for the short-term, money to hire the best people. money to higher a good number of people who can work together. money that ventures you will be around for the next year and maybe the next five years or the next 10 years. as i see it, i think those are essential ingredients. >> what about the question of whether or not failure -- i don't get a sense of there being tension. we hear so much about competition and tension and is that -- but that is what is pushes innovation forward. i don't get a great sense there was tension from reading the book. there is competition, but outside of that, was there a
place where there was a lot of competitiveness and tension and, oh, my god, if i don't get this done, i'm going to lose my job? >> there is competition and sometimes in later years, competing groups that competed against each other internally, i think it really is that a larger question exists that i think is something which might be the competition meant that we sort of now equate innovation with market competition. which is true to some extent. certainly i think that we did great consumer products out of that kind of competitive marketplace. but certainly, if you look at the history of bell labs as a company and an organization that wasn't really competing with anyone else, you start to wonder, how does that happen if we give these breakthroughs? we got those printers because
there was a place where there is a rich exchange of ideas and problems to be solved and that needed to be solved. i think that to some extent, the big breakthroughs elsewhere certainly, the internet was not created because of market competition. there are big break on temperatures, for the most part, they arise out of a need to move ahead, a deep curiosity and willingness to fail and explore the unknown. >> so what do you, as we come to the end of our conversation, what should we take from the bell labs story? what can we take from this that would be useful for us to think about what you think about the problems that we have not solved and the way in which that innovative spirit might be brought about?
>> i think the most important take away for me is that notion of balancing the short-term high metabolism innovation that we admire quite a bit with a longer-term vision. and i think that can be very vital. i wonder if things have gotten out of balance a little bit. to me, that is crucial. i think the other thing, too, is basic research can pay off in ways that you can't imagine. the other day it was on "the wall street journal" that we should double our national investment. in bell labs, the string of innovations proved that those investments, those endeavors into basic science can change the world and can change the economy. it can create millions of jobs.
and they don't pay off quickly, but the payoff in ways otherwise. >> and what about problems like energy and something that is so much at the forefront right now. and also climate change. are there things that we can take away from bell labs but you could use in some of those subjects? >> i hope so. i mean, we have our energy secretary who is a bell labs alum. is familiar with the process better than anybody. i think the reality is that the world is different. larger principles are the most valuable things to learn. as opposed to those specific kinds of ingredients for innovation. we are at the time and place,