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Uploaded on Jun 29, 2009
Big Thinkers is a former ZDTV (later TechTV) television program. It featured a half-hour interview with a "big thinker" in science, technology, and other fields. Interviews were filmed in a 16:9 format and intercut with public domain material from the Prelinger Archives. This archival footage (mostly film clips from the 1940's and 50's) was used to create visual metaphors highlighting the speaker's points.
This episode features David Gelernter. He is a professor of computer science at Yale University. In the 1980s, he made seminal contributions to the field of parallel computation, specifically the tuple space coordination model, as embodied by the Linda programming system. In 1993, Gelernter was critically injured opening a mailbomb sent by Theodore Kaczynski, who at that time was an unidentified but violent opponent of technology, dubbed by the press as "the Unabomber". He recovered from his injuries but his right hand and eye were permanently damaged. He chronicled the ordeal in his 1997 book Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.