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Steven Lightfoot

On Practicality

By Steven Lightfoot on July 25, 2012

Economic theory typically assumes that, given the right incentives, technological advancement—innovation—is limitless. As economists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner confirm, “The typical economist believes the world has not yet invented a problem that he cannot fix if given a free hand to design the proper incentive scheme.” (Freakonomics, 2005). Practicing engineers have a more nuanced view. They will acknowledge that technological advancement can sometimes be aided by legislative or economic levers, but they also recognize that hard technical limitations sometimes exist. These limitations can be related to physical laws, or they can be practical in nature.

The quiet charms of fascinating people

By Steven Lightfoot on December 27, 2010

It all started for me 20 years ago. My friend Marina knew I was interested in ideas and the sharing of them, and she had run across this really interesting couple living in Westmount. They held what could only be described as a 19th century Parisian salon right in their home. They had been doing this literally every Wednesday Night for years, which sounded implausible, but was true.

Technology as an age of pessimism

By Steven Lightfoot on September 9, 2010

Robert Goddard was a dreamer and inventor. Born in Massachusetts in 1882, he was a sickly child, and fell behind his fellow students. But he had an  insatiable curiosity about the physical world and was a voracious reader. He managed to become valedictorian of his high school class, stating in his address, "It has often proved true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow."

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