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Richard Feynman – scholar and charming chauvinist

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Being a wedding crasher
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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The house was actually... the city rented out the house every weekend for a wedding, so we would sort of move upstairs and compact into part of the house while the wedding was going on, but of course we were working through the weekends, so... and there was free food down at the wedding. So I became a sort of regular wedding crasher. I got very good at going down and hanging around. And the trick was always that the first thing when somebody came up to talk to you, you had to ask first, 'Oh, which side of the family are you with?' And then, well, it was quickly you got to know who the bride and groom were, and you got to hear the things everybody was saying about them, and you could say it, so it turns out to be pretty easy to crash a wedding. And I love to dance, and there's usually good dancing at weddings, and people usually get a little drunk and dance, and actually weddings are pretty sexy and I was single at that time, so it was kind of a nice way to meet girls.

W Daniel Hillis (b. 1956) is an American inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While doing his doctoral work at MIT under artificial intelligence pioneer, Marvin Minsky, he invented the concept of parallel computers, that is now the basis for most supercomputers. He also co-founded the famous parallel computing company, Thinking Machines, in 1983 which marked a new era in computing. In 1996, Hillis left MIT for California, where he spent time leading Disney’s Imagineers. He developed new technologies and business strategies for Disney's theme parks, television, motion pictures, Internet and consumer product businesses. More recently, Hillis co-founded an engineering and design company, Applied Minds, and several start-ups, among them Applied Proteomics in San Diego, MetaWeb Technologies (acquired by Google) in San Francisco, and his current passion, Applied Invention in Cambridge, MA, which 'partners with clients to create innovative products and services'. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices (including a 10,000-year mechanical clock), and has recently moved into working on problems in medicine. In recognition of his work Hillis has won many awards, including the Dan David Prize.

Listeners: George Dyson Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: wedding, Paine Mansion, dancing, drinking, bride, groom

Duration: 1 minute, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 05 July 2017