From the Beginning of ILT Science to the Challenge of ILT FutureIn the beginning, the question was whether a light trap could catch a fly:
Don Gilbert had heard that a certain well known company had a reputation as the toughest buyer in the food industry (i.e. you couldn't sell them a gimmick). He thought if he could sell them his new trap design, then anywhere else he went, he could tell them that this company uses Gilbert® traps, And, it would be all downhill from there.
He made an appointment with the company. When he got there, not only was the company man there, but also a Ph.D. entomologist from the nearby state university, who, with little hesitation, pointed out that the fly was well known to be diurnal (a day flying insect) and, therefore, would not respond to light.
"You're probably right," said Don. "I'm just a small town fella with an idea, but as long as I'm here, let me buy ya'll lunch. And while we're gone, if we could just place my trap where you know there are no flies, and see if we could catch one."
They placed the trap right in the middle of the production area. When they returned from lunch, three hours later, there were 102 flies in the trap.
Not only did he sell a plant full of traps (in order to catch them before they got to that production area), the entomologist became a good friend. Over the years, they learned from each other. Don often said, "I couldn't have done what I did without friends like that, "
Then, he winked, and with a smile, said, "but it wasn't as downhill as I thought."
Don never retired. He passed away in 1993, encouraging me to advance the profession he founded. His last words to me were, "Sunny boy, you'll have to redesign the light traps."