Having posted about the book Medieval Machines (by Jean Gimpel) on December 27, I found The Chip by T. J. Reid. The chip is the microchip inside modern machines of every kind. Reid wrote about the chip because he thought that the people who invented it ought to be as well known as Henry Ford or J. P. Morgan. Jack Kilby and Bob Noyce pioneered the idea that electrical components could all be made out of the same material (silicon) and hence the connections could be arranged without soldering a few million connections between them. And “a few million” is not an exaggeration. With so many connections to be made there was an inevitable lack of quality that manifested itself. Kilby and Noyce figured out how to do something quite different that allowed all those connections to be made without compromising quality. It was fascinating.
But the two men are still not known as he thought they should be.
When I was doing lists of Catholic scientists I began to internalize the idea that every time knowledge moves ahead there is a person who caused it to move. Practically every sentence in a text book is someone’s life work. Someone had an idea and tested it. But we don’t know most of them at all.
I find this very curious.