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Happy family life


'I'm already hatched'
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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Asa always had this crazy sense of humour, and I remember once, even when he was really little, we were studying dinosaurs in the... and we were also... we had just incubated some chicken eggs. We'd gone out and gotten some fertilised chicken eggs, and incubated with lightbulbs and had them hatch. And then one morning, I was asleep and he wakes me up early, early in the morning and says, 'Daddy, Daddy, they didn't hatch.' I'm like, 'What didn't hatch?' I'm very groggy in the morning when I wake up. He said, 'The dinosaur eggs. I put the dinosaur eggs in the drawer where they would be warm, but they didn't hatch.' And I'm thinking, 'I wonder if these were, like, real eggs.' And then I realised, 'Oh yes, they sort of had some egg-shaped stones', and I was like, well, I'm also thinking do they think any eggs... So I'm still groggy. I think, 'Well, I need to explain to them about fertilised eggs, maybe.' I was like, well, 'Eggs have to have like a mommy and daddy before they hatch, and besides, the dinosaurs are all dead.' I'm still getting my act... and he's like, 'So you say that they won't hatch because their mommies and daddies are dead?'

I was like, 'No, no, no, that's not what I'm saying.' Then I was like, 'Why don't you just come in bed and snuggle with me?' And Asa says, 'No thanks, I'm already hatched.'

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: Christopher Sykes George Dyson

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: eggs, dinosaur, chicken, hatch

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 05 July 2017