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 9, 2020
I just read '€œEmpty World'€ by John Christopher, and I'€™m sure you will be as amazed as I to discover that this book has a hint of a sniff of the post-apocalyptic about it....
Jul 9, 2020
It happens all the time. We'€™re online with a designer and we'€™re looking at a connector in our picture search. He says '€œI need a connector that looks just like this one, but '€¦'€ and then he goes on to explain something he needs that'€™s unique to his desig...
Jul 3, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at CNNs for vision as well as other neural networks for other applications.] We'€™re going to take a quick detour into math today. For those of you that have done advanced math, this may be a review, or it might even seem to be talking down...

featured video

Product Update: DesignWare MIPI C-PHY/D-PHY IP

Sponsored by Synopsys

Get the latest update on Synopsys' DesignWare MIPI C-PHY/D-PHY IP solution and how the 24 Gbps total bandwidth can enable your camera, display, automotive, drone, and image sensor SoCs implemented in advanced FinFET processes.

Click here for more information about Synopsys' DesignWare MIPI C-PHY/D-PHY IP solution

Featured Chalk Talk

USB Type C Wireless Power Charging

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Wurth

Today, there are fantastic new standard battery charging solutions that can help with your design. But, many designers don’t know where to begin with implementing these complex standards. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Hebberly Ahatan of Wurth Electronik about the latest charging standards, and how new kits from Wurth make implementing them in your next design a snap.

Click here for more information about Wurth Design Kits