Narwhals and “CoolThreads”

Last night, my son asked me “what kind of computers does your company make?” I was eager for the opportunity to get him excited about what I do and where I work. So, I told him about our new X64 enterprise systems. I even tried discussing our plans to open source Java. In the end, I failed miserably. Instead, of childish wonder, all I saw in his eyes was polite boredom.

You see, his 10-year old frame of reference consists of the Apple systems we use at home (love my new MacBook Pro). This was disappointing for me. I wanted him to be proud of where I work and at least minimally competitive in that classic playground duel of…”My dad works at…”. Granted I didn’t expect to dethrone the traditional incumbents, but a father has to dream.

Five years ago, I had the unique opportunity to spend time exploring Ellesmere Island. Located high in the Arctic Circle, it is a place of overwhelming natural beauty and rich in archeological sites. They say everyone has a place that they connect with above all others. For me, it is Ellesmere.

On this trip, I was accompanied by a fascinating guide who was also a trained Canadian biologist. Over the course of two weeks, we kayaked and hiked under the midnight sun and he introduced me to Walrus, Eider Ducks, Arctic Hares, Ring Seals, Musk-Oxen and Narwhals (those are Narwhal tusks in the picture below).

I returned home from this exploration with a renewed appreciation for nature and an awakening to the perils of global warming. The fact that I could hike around in shorts and a windbreaker less than 500 miles from the North Pole was a good clue that something was happening.

Over the following years, my concerns have increased. A visit to Canada’s Columbia Icefield earlier this year, didn’t give me any comfort. Nor did, reading Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Collapse”.

Despite this, I remain optimistic about the power of innovation to create solutions to the problems of global warming and our increasing dependency on fossil fuels. Over the past year, we have seen increased investment in alternative energy. Demand for hybrid and electric automobiles is increasing as is utilization of solar and wind power. And, I’m really happy to that Sun is doing it’s part with our new line of “CoolThreads” T1000 and T2000 servers. These are so amazingly energy efficient that California’s largest public utility now provides a rebate toward their purchase. This is a first for the computer industry. As companies increase reliance on data centers, these servers will help dramatically reduce cost, space and energy.

And, while my little 5th grader may not think our products are as “cool” as an iPod. Someday, he will.


Filed under Sun

4 responses to “Narwhals and “CoolThreads”

  1. I think you mean ‘Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Collapse”‘. “Chaos” is James Gleick’s excellent book.

  2. Richard

    Always interesting to hear about “global warming” especially where the climatic cycle of geological periods is not mentioned. To all who assume “global warming’ is man-made, I recommend a quick look at the average temps in the geological periods. For example, the Mesozoic period had temperatures 10 C higher than today. And let’s not forget about the “Ice Age”. Antartica was free of ice in the past, and will likely be so in the future, based on the geological evidence. Climatic shifts are part of the earth’s regular cycle. Not to mention the cyclical nature of the Sun (the star not the company!) search on these topics and paleoclimates.

  3. And don’t forget my own personal favorite, ocean renewable energy –

  4. You needed to keep your son’s frame of reference in view. You could have told him that your company makes “bigger and stronger Macs”, computers that are Hummers to Apple’s F-10s.

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