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Environment

By Any Other Name

May 24, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 21

My congratulations to Bruce M. Alberts, the editor-in-chief of Science, on his receipt of the 2010 Vannevar Bush Award for public service (C&EN, April 5, page 29). I would point out, however, that Vannevar Bush is not held in great regard in the computer science community.

In fact, a "vannevar," according to the "New Hacker's Dictionary" (Eric Raymond, MIT Press, 1991) is "a bogus technological prediction or a foredoomed engineering concept, especially one that fails by assuming that technologies develop linearly." Again I quote, "The prototype was Vannevar Bush's prediction of 'electronic brains' the size of the Empire State Building with a Niagara Falls equivalent cooling system for their tubes and relays, made at a time when the semiconductor effect had already been demonstrated."

James V. Silverton
Potomac, Md.

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