random memes }

Hidden brilliance

Wired News: Photographer Seeks Resolution The gigapixel camera lenses were custom-designed and cut by a specialist he knew from his defense contracting days, who is more accustomed to making optics for military systems.

"They're essentially perfect," Flint said of the lenses. "They're spectacular."

I hope that we can re-capture more of the great expertise built up during the cold war.

What we should not let slip from our grasp is the knowledge and expertise of the folks retired from the defense industries. During the period of the cold war we pushed technology to its limits to design new ways of killing people and destroying things. By itself perhaps this is awful. But technology is simply the knowledge of how to do things. The way we choose to apply technology can be either constructive or destructive, moral or immoral - the knowledge itself is neutral.

During the Cold War there were a lot of bright people who developed some brilliant bits of technology -- funded by military spending. As military projects, much of the work was kept secret, and much of the knowledge gained was not widely spread. Companies tend to forget about past work as soon as the funding stops. The folks that worked in the defense industries through the 1960's and 1970's are largely retired, and not all still with us. It would be a waste to completely lose the knowledge they gained.

To point out the obvious - this message is carried on a medium built on knowledge gained by old defense spending. The Internet was originally a DARPA project. Your computer has a heritage with many roots in the work of this period. In particular there is a path backwards from Silicon Valley, Intel, Fairchild, to Autonetics (a once-part of Rockwell) and advanced defense projects of that period that may not be otherwise recorded.