In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden, a steel magnate, develops a new material that he modestly calls Rearden Metal. It is stronger, lighter, and tougher than any alloy available on the market. Rearden Metal is the culmination of a lifetime of work for Rearden, but he is frustrated by the inability of engineers to grasp its full potential. Instead of reconceptualizing the design of metal structures, like bridges, they design better bridges on the old framework—they can’t think beyond the old thing they know to the new thing enabled by the radically new material. It is up to Rearden to open up the design space for his new metal in the world.
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Volume 59, Issue 4, July-August 2016
From the Editor