You Can’t Make This

Posted in Opinions on February 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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Remember MC Hammer’s You Can’t Touch This? How about Weird Al Yankovic’s parody I Can’t Watch This? I loved them both – and I hate RAP!

Well, neither of them has anything to do with this post. It’s just my play on words.

However, no matter how smart and skilled you are, You Can’t Make This:

Eunie's watch that died of terminal internal green stuff

Yes, I kid you not. You could not possibly take a supply of raw materials and machinery and make a digital watch – no matter how smart you are.

Why? One might ask.

Have a look at this:

The post-mortem begins

Okay, so far I don’t see anything that a competent watchmaker (do we still have those?) could not reproduce. But what makes it tick?

Having grown tired of fitting new batteries to one of Eunie’s dozen or so cheap watches with which she accessorizes so expertly, I finally drew a red X on it and told her it had terminal green stuff in it.

This got my cerebral juices all stirred up. One of my recurrent musings bears on the history of technology.

We humans seemed to pass over some kind of threshold in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Before that time, it was possible for a single individual to carry enough knowledge in his head (or easily access it otherwise) to build a fairly complex contraption by himself. For instance, I’m sure that there were a few polymaths on the planet that, given suitable raw materials and machinery, could have built something recognizable as an automobile unassisted. Certainly, we could think of many other examples.

Today, however, I feel safe to state that no person on the planet has sufficient knowledge, no matter what raw materials and equipment are supplied, to make a humble digital watch.

It’s mostly because of this:

You can't make this!

The red arrow points to a tiny integrated circuit measuring only about .5 by 1.2 mm. Nobody on the planet has the all the knowledge it would take to make one of these unassisted.

SO WHAT? (one might ask)

Well, my conclusion is that if we want to take on complicated projects, we’d better learn to cooperate. That’s CO – OPERATE, meaning work together for a common goal.

REPUBILCANS AND DEMOCRATS in the US CONGRESS . . .   Are you listening to me? I’m saying something important here. I’m not just blowing cigar smoke.

Hey . . .

HEY! . . .

The silence is deafening.

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