The following letters are in response to our April interview with Thomas Thwaites, author of The Toaster Project.The original MSD article is here.
Taking technology for granted
We all have a tendency to take things — and the materials they are made of — for granted, due to the simple fact that they are readily available. When it comes down to literally building anything from scratch, one quickly realizes how much one doesn't know across a broad variety of subjects. Finding just the right information and know-how is not as easy as it might seem. Suddenly one is faced with becoming an instant expert in each field of technology.
With the ever-increasing amount of information available through the Internet, finding know-how has become easier during recent years with respect to the complete history of technology. Just imagine how valuable technical know-how books would be if humankind were suddenly thrown back to the end of the Stone Age and forced to start over.
Wasting time on toast
Had young Mr. Thwaites done some basic research on the Internet to find the Toast-O-Lator invented in the 1930s, and also reviewed a number of other early toaster designs, his project would have cost less, functioned properly, and had a palatable appearance. Better yet, he should have researched how the Chinese reverse-engineer almost every consumer product with cheaper production costs and sometimes equal quality to the original item. This article provides a good example of the complete waste of time by many research projects, let alone grant projects, generally found in academic environments.
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