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An egg joke that backfired

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The Indian village that made idols
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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But I remember once going to the village that made the idols and my mother packed me a lunch which had a boiled egg and some sandwiches. And we went off to this village which was out in the boondocks some place where they'd made the idols. And I remember, it's very funny, because you saw them making all these idols of the Durgas and the Ganeshas, the elephant. And the various other kinds. But then they would also make like they were making Elvis Presley dolls and other things like that.

And what they did was, this village was kind of interesting, which is that they worshipped... They had temples and they had... The worshipped the idols sort of in proportion to the number that got ordered. So I remember going into their temple where they had like Durga and Ganesha and Buddha and John F Kennedy and Elvis. And of course the Virgin Mary. All these idols which were all kind of the same to them in terms of... So...

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: India

Duration: 1 minute, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017