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Reunited with my driver, Pratap

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An egg joke that backfired
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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And then that place also had a funny thing which is that they made eggs that... Beautiful little eggs that looked exactly like real eggs but they were made of clay.

And I'd bought one of these eggs, I thought it would be very funny to go back and bring back... So I switched out my boiled egg with the egg and it was just exactly the right weight. And I came back with my whole bag and my mother... You know, from this trip. And I said, 'Oh, by the way, I didn't eat my egg, would you like it?' And my mother said, 'Oh yes, sure.' And I handed her the egg thinking this is going to be a real joke. But I forgot that my mother occasionally did this thing of we used to take eggs and crack them on each other's head. And so she took this egg thinking it was a boiled egg and she reached over to my head and went, whack. Practically knocked me out. Because of course a real egg will just break.

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: egg, joke, clay

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017