Duct Tape, Not
I found Max Sherman's article, "How Duct Tape Sealed My Place in History," (December 1998) to be both entertaining and useful practically. For years my basement has been filling up with clothes-dryer lint, and I have wondered why. I have advanced theories and even formulated experiments to choose among the theories. But after reading Professor Sherman's article, I looked at the flexible ducting that leads from my dryer down to the basement, across the basement ceiling, and out a vent at the opposite wall. I observed that where two long sections of ducting were coupled together with duct tape, they had separated ("failed catastrophically" in Sherman's words). I now intend to recouple the sections, using another sealant as Sherman recommends. I will keep you informed.
South Riding, Virginia
Go for the Big Bang
Charles Duke of Xerox [The Back Page, APS News, December 1998] tells young physicists going into industry, "For those who are or wish to be 'players' in industrial R&D, you might consider three actions. First, the big bang value system is inappropriate in your new life; discard it." Some people never learn. Xerox exists because of one big bang, the xerographic copier. Another could have made it a world leader in computers. It happened at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, only to be discarded by Xerox management. Now it is called the Macintosh.
Charles W. McCutchen
Princeton, New Jersey
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