editor's blog
Subscribe Now

The world wins, again

We work in an environment where we regularly say that we using technology to try to change the world for the better. Then the world turns around and shows you that it is far stronger than you think. It always faintly amuses me that a massive airliner can be seriously delayed by a head wind, but this ceases to be funny when the wind system is called Katrina, Sandy or the latest, Pam.

The world turned round and gave us another slap in the face last Thursday – not on the scale of Pam but still a nasty reminder that we are not yet anywhere close to being in control. Terry Pratchett died. It wasn’t unexpected; he had been suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease, posterior cortical atrophy, for several years. There is a cliché that people “battle” a disease. In Terry’s case this was true. He fought with an immense rage both the disease and the laws that would not allow him to choose the time and place of his death and “…die, before the disease mounted its last attack, in my own home, in a chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand to wash down whatever modern version of the ‘Brompton cocktail’ some helpful medic could supply. And with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death.”

One of Terry’s fascinations was technology. He was a voracious user of computers and the Internet, and many of the Discworld novels demonstrated the way in which society reacts to the impact of science and technology. This was at the heart of his last published work “Steam Up”, written well after the disease had begun to grip him. In it the invention of the railway causes a wide range of reactions and political shenanigans, just as with the proposals for high speed railways in California and Britain.

Technology is paying tribute. Many websites will now contain “GNU Terry Pratchett”. It is a very nerdy in-joke, and you can read about it here: http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/redditors-are-making-sure-terry-pratchetts-name-lives-on-forever–lJjYpijRag

We don’t know what causes the various forms of Alzheimer’s, we have difficulty diagnosing it, we can’t cure it, and we don’t even know how to alleviate it, except in minor ways for some forms of the disease. To quote Terry again “as far as we know the only way to be sure of not developing it is to die young”.

There is work going on, around the world, on using technology to make early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. This will allow training for the sufferer to cope with some of the issues, but there is still a long way to go. For the rest of us, we have to acknowledge the world’s power, but still continue working to try to make it a better place.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jul 12, 2024
I'm having olfactory flashbacks to the strangely satisfying scents found in machine shops. I love the smell of hot oil in the morning....

featured video

Larsen & Toubro Builds Data Centers with Effective Cooling Using Cadence Reality DC Design

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

Larsen & Toubro built the world’s largest FIFA stadium in Qatar, the world’s tallest statue, and one of the world’s most sophisticated cricket stadiums. Their latest business venture? Designing data centers. Since IT equipment in data centers generates a lot of heat, it’s important to have an efficient and effective cooling system. Learn why, Larsen & Toubro use Cadence Reality DC Design Software for simulation and analysis of the cooling system.

Click here for more information about Cadence Multiphysics System Analysis

featured paper

Navigating design challenges: block/chip design-stage verification

Sponsored by Siemens Digital Industries Software

Explore the future of IC design with the Calibre Shift left initiative. In this paper, author David Abercrombie reveals how Siemens is changing the game for block/chip design-stage verification by moving Calibre verification and reliability analysis solutions further left in the design flow, including directly inside your P&R tool cockpit. Discover how you can reduce traditional long-loop verification iterations, saving time, improving accuracy, and dramatically boosting productivity.

Click here to read more

featured chalk talk

AI/ML System Architecture Connectivity Solutions
Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Samtec
In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton and Matthew Burns from Samtec investigate a variety of crucial design considerations for AI and ML designs, the role that AI chipsets play in the development of these systems, and why the right connectivity solution can make all the difference when it comes to your machine learning or artificial intelligence design.
Oct 23, 2023
31,906 views