Mark Anderson on The Power of Integration

Mark addressed the audience at the opening night of FiRe X. 

Understanding how to integrate intellectually and in products is a scarce resource, undervalued intellectually and to society. 

(Shows video of SpaceX Falcon 9, Dragon launch into orbit.)

This is the first private company to launch a vehicle into orbit for eventual docking at the space station. Elon has praised NASA and NASA has done the same in return, but SpaceX is to thank for picking up the baton dropped by the government years ago in terms of space travel and exploration.

Tonight we’ll do physics as a group.

Einstein and Feynman

Once published an issue called “Einstein’s biggest mistake.” Einstein actually called it his biggest mistake later on in life.

He’d given up on looking for the ether; wrote brilliant work about gravity and space-time physics, but failed to define the other work, which wound up being quantum physics. He did great things and clearly had new ideas, even if he wasn’t able to tie everything all together.

Where did these ideas come from? 

Reading Einstein’s original paper on special relativity is kind of like reading a french cookbook and winding up with a recipe for guacamole. There’s no linear movement from A to B. From beginning of the paper to E=mc squared.

“I think he pulled it out of his ass.” Thinks he thought it up independently of the rest of the paper and then just tacked it on the end.


Took charge of computational problem of Manhattan project and became well-known. Filled an entire room with mathematicians doing one-by-one equations that performed the group function of a supercomputer. Became noticed for this all over the world.

Brilliant mathematician, but he wasn’t Einstein. His skill was not in seeing something new. “He pulled it right out of his ass.” Made Feynman diagrams that could do in 3-4 hrs what it took grad students several weeks to do. Integrated mathematics into pictures, which are still used today.

Who were these men?

Einstein say new things. Feynman saw things in a new way, which has extreme value.

Einstein and Eisenhauer

Who won WWII? Eisenhauer, who was the logistics master. It was logistics that won WWII rather than the atomic bomb.

Eisenhauer had incredible ability to manage the supply chain. Meanwhile Patton went way faster than the supply chain could keep up. Eisenhauer got the food, bullets, etc to the right place at the right time and that’s what won the war.

Churchill wrote in private diary: His studies revealed that he would lose every time there was a fair fight. So, he put the war off, diverting to Africa and other locales, until he could get the U.S. involved. This was the power of integration.

E=Mc^2 (Ignore this. There’s another way to see this that integrates properly)

C^2=1/(epsilon naught x mu naught)

M/E= Epsilon naught x mu naught)

The ratio of mass to energy is a constant defined by the electrical and magnetic qualities of empty space.

Steve Jobs

Steve held patents, but he wasn’t purely an inventor. His job was to create the best products ever made — by integrating. He was the most master innovator alive today. Was able to take things that looked like they were already done and re-do them. He took all these things from his life and brought them back into his product. Like his calligraphy class at Reed, bringing fonts into the Mac.

In integrating our lives, we learn to integrate our work.

SJ: “The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better the design.”

We’ve tried to use the power of integration in FiRe and in what we’ve done but we’ve also invited people here who do that. Many folks here are masters of integration. We’re trying to eat the dog food.

INVNT/ IP: New reporting center for IP theft we’ve launched to encourage reporting of IP theft.

New FiRe Site

New Threads of Discovery you’ll see at FiRe throughout the next years.

New FiRe film program

AORTA Manifesto: An encouragement to education folks in K-12 around the world. 5 steps that will create success in education.