The underlying thing is this: If you change the physical scale of some device, making it 1/100th the size of what it was, you cannot assume it will work. A lot of factors change so you have to sit down and re-design the whole thing.
It is the same with scaling an aircraft up in a wind tunnel. It definitively won't work. The aeronautical guys learnt this way back in school and told him about this. They told him about something called dimensionless numbers. Every measurement generally has dimensions, kg, miles, etc. so there's this amazing thing that if you take all the numbers which are significant you can arrange them in a way so all the dimensions cancel, and you get a dimensionless number, if this works, you can then depend on the numbers. Very mysterious.
A the Solid State Conference 1959 Doug was going to talk to them about the effects of scaling electronic components. He said if you change the scale you get surprises. He was met with looks of disbelief. They were engineers and physicists, how could he possibly lecture them?
So he said would you notice if everything and everyone here increased by 10 in each dimension? What would happen?
Many said they wouldn't notice a thing as the angles would be the same; looking at someone bigger would look the same if you yourself was bigger. But what about weight? And strength?
If you make something 10 times bigger you get 1,000 times the volume (10 times in each of the three dimensions) and 1,000 the weight.
But the strength? In most materials strength is dependent on the cross sectional area of the material. How much stronger does the material become? Only 100 times as strong (as you are only expanding it in two dimensions).
Let me go into that a bit more: If you look at strength as how much force you can exert by, lets say, stretching a cylinder of a given material before it breaks. Fair measurement? Then you will notice that you have the same pressure at every point pulling the cylinder apart. Or you can think of it as a rope, or anything you can picture stretching. At every point where the cylinder is stretched - a force is applied - in the direction of the force, so that only leaves two dimensions for strenght. A little weird but everyone happy with that?
So for scaling a person- you, you've be 1,000 heavier but only 100 stronger. There becomes a difference of a factor of ten between weight and strength.
That is the same as if you were 10 times heavier right now without the increase in size (normal human is about 70kg - so imagine 700kg), and had the same (muscular and skeletal) strength. You may not even be able to sit on a chair. You could fall, and break bones.
So the Solid State people started to listen to the significance of scale changes.
In the world of electronics there'd be issues too, just like there would be if we were scaled. You could have trouble if you expected the device to work the same at this scale - the temperature and so on is also affected.
The scale of change of the tools out there... wow the impact. it will start changes...
The scale of the rate of change is also a scaling factor. If it becomes too fast we will not be able to integrate it into society.
Doug puts it this way: The only thing we can help protect yourself with is if we get collectively smarter. It' not just interesting, it's a matter of the survival of humanity.