Patent an idea? Leo Szilard did.

07 Nov

Leó Szilárd (Hungarian: Szilárd Leó, February 11, 1898 – May 30, 1964 German: Spitz, Leo until age 2) was a Hungarian American physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein‘s signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator (1928, not knowing Gustav Ising‘s 1924 journal article and Rolf Widerøe‘s operational device) and the cyclotron.[1] Szilárd himself did not build all of these devices, or publish these ideas in scientific journals, and so their credit often went to others. As a result, Szilárd never received the Nobel Prize, but others were awarded the Prize as a result of their work on two of his inventions.[2]

He was born in Budapest in the Kingdom of Hungary, and died in La Jolla, California.

In an odd way the quest for atomic energy also drove the discovery of the “Bit” and the computer and information technology.  The Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton was the center for research on atomic energy and also became the skunk works for one of the first computational computers by John von Neumann and Alan Turing.

The entropy of information and the entropy of matter are tied together in the expression the “Bit in IT”.  Every quantum state carries information along with spin and energy.  I think it is the information and the value of the information that really matters.  Personal Information matters most to the person from which it came.  The value to others is decreased similar to the way atomic isotopes decay.  Some information decays slowly and some information decays rapidly.  When information is converted to bits the value of those bits is proportional to the ability to reconstruct those bits into information.  When those bits are separated by distance the value of that information is proportional to the reconstruction and the transmission over some network.

Value of information=(bits ability to recombine into information) * (bits ability to transfer over a network in a resonable time) / time *


“The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of it’s users.”  – Metcalf’s Law

“The value of a network is proportional to the value of the information it connects to.” – Truex’s Law