You're holding a couple hundred billion transistors right now. Yes, you. You with the smartphone in your hand. That's possible because -- surprise -- transistors are only a few nanometers in size now. A size so small, that description means nothing to you, right? Well here's something: what if transistors and all other things we engineer are only going to get smaller from here? And what if that entire process began a shockingly short time ago, in a specific place, and changed the entire world faster than anybody realized it was happening?

On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by author Simon Winchester. Simon's latest book is The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World, and he & Alex will explore exactly that. They'll also get into why 1776 should be famous for more than the American Revolution, why Eli Whitney should be famous for being a con man, how the Hubble Space Telescope got itself contact lenses, and more shocking tales of precision changing the entire world overnight.


The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester's bio

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester

entry for "precision" in the Oxford English Dictionary

a timeline of Victorian Britain (BBC History)

John Wilkinson (BBC History)

Portsmouth Block Mills (Wikipedia)

Battle Of Bladensburg (American Battlefield Trust)

How NASA fixed Hubble's flawed vision - and reputation (CBS News)

NASA's Webb telescope delayed to 2021 (Science)

Jim Inhofe's snowball has disproven climate change once and for all (The Washington Post)

Frederick Henry Royce (Automotive Hall Of Fame)

Dutch firm ASML perfecting 'microchip shrink' for tech giants (

quotes from Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers (Goodreads)

one quintillion, written out: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000

Inside the cockpit on QF32: How the world's worst aviation disaster was averted (

LIGO Lab (Caltech)

A Visit To Seiko Watch Company In Japan (Gear Patrol)

Longitude by Dava Sobel

Sir Cloudesley Shovell shipwrecked (History Today)

Korean Airlines flight shot down by Soviet Union (History)

Chinese navigation satellite deployed by Long March rocket (Spaceflight Now)

See the first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR this spring! Get your tickets now for: Thursday April 11th -- Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL and Friday April 12th -- Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul MN.

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