If you went to RailsConf, you saw Avi Bryant explain how Ruby can be seen as essentially just a Unix dialect of Smalltalk.
It's a meme. You can see an example of the same idea on Ramon Leon's blog, and in this quote from Kent Beck:
I always knew that one day Smalltalk would replace Java. I just didn't know it would be called Ruby.
One way to look at the Ruby on Rails success story is to say that constraining Smalltalk within a virtual machine trapped it. By transferring Smalltalk to a Unix environment, Ruby let the genie out of the bottle. The minute Smalltalk left the confines of its virtual-machine ivory tower, it turned out to be not the doddering academic many people had remembered it as - and indeed forgotten it as - but instead an elderly kung fu badass, like a dude from a 70s movie who can still kick the crap out of thirty different people at once when he's in his 70s.
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
Smalltalk definitely contained ideas so powerful that you could change the world forever by commercializing them.
Maybe that's still the case.
There's just one problem with this idea, however: Matz himself might not agree with it. The creator of Ruby named Ruby after Perl, and has said he wanted a language "more powerful than Perl and more object-oriented than Python." Matz' comments in a recent discussion about Ruby's block syntax on the ruby-talk list referenced CLU, not Smalltalk, even though Smalltalk's blocks have a lot in common with Ruby's.
One thing I'm sure of, however: writing Smalltalk will make you a better Ruby programmer, even when you're still just barely making sense of it in your tiny fragments of spare time. The need for small, concise, atomic methods becomes not just clearer to understand but simpler to satisfy.