Why did Dagny and Hank assume the motor had been invented by a single man?


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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

Because they had been invented by a single woman.

--Brant

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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

Because they had been invented by a single woman.

--Brant

Great answer!

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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

This was an artifact of the novel. A plot "gimmick" if you will. I think it is wrong minded to regard the characters of -Atlas Shrugged- as real live human beings. While the properties of the characters may be composite constructs of real live human beings, the characters, as such, are mental constructs created by Ayn Rand. Reifying fictional characters can lead to some bizarre conclusions.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

This was an artifact of the novel. A plot "gimmick" if you will. I think it is wrong minded to regard the characters of -Atlas Shrugged- as real live human beings. While the properties of the characters may be composite constructs of real live human beings, the characters, as such, are mental constructs created by Ayn Rand. Reifying fictional characters can lead to some bizarre conclusions.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch.

Edited by Xray
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Dagny found handwritten notes and drawings (they didn't have word processors and graphics software in those days). This was a very easy judgement to make.

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Pete,

Right. That even seems flat-out obvious to me. I am always amazed that people miss this kind of stuff.

Not the newbies who have suddenly been impacted by a whole lot of new stuff. Then it's easy to make an elementary oversight like that. But people who have read and read and discussed and discussed really don't have an excuse.

Michael

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Dagny found handwritten notes and drawings (they didn't have word processors and graphics software in those days). This was a very easy judgement to make.

Why do you think that handwritten notes and drawings rule out the collaborative effort of an engineering team? There isn't any reason to believe that. Would an engineering team not have had handwritten notes and drawings?

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Dagny found handwritten notes and drawings (they didn't have word processors and graphics software in those days). This was a very easy judgement to make.

Why do you think that handwritten notes and drawings rule out the collaborative effort of an engineering team? There isn't any reason to believe that. Would an engineering team not have had handwritten notes and drawings?

Let's look at the information:

1) The handwritten notes and drawings probably were done with the same handwriting. This would be highly suggestive of a single mind at work. Does it prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that it was so? Of course not. But it makes is a very reasonable working hypothesis. Why would one assume the working of a team on such a highly innovative creation, when all the handwriting was of a single person? A single person could easily be the sole scribe - but then they would surely have recorded some cases where the team had vigorous discussion, and captured the differing opinions.

2) Again, Rand is always driving at her message. The solitary individual as creator. Hence, you just have to know, in reading Atlas, that it was one person. (That's not why the fictional characters Dagny and Hank knew, of course. But we must remember that they are FICTIONAL characters.) Atlas is full of this sort of stuff, in fact. I have always viewed it as amusing how Eddie NEVER gets a clue about who the stranger in the cafeteria is. It seemed very obvious to me, very early in reading Atlas Shrugged, that this person was "in the know" - - - long before the person is revealed as Galt.

Now, back to #1 above: I have participated in quite a few major projects where there has been creation by a team of faculty. In each case, however, if you were to obtain a sampling of the documents, you would find documents discernibly written in the style of different members of the team. YOu would even find comments arguing for or against positions, which made it obvious there were multiple parties. The complete absence of any mention of Dagny or Hank seeing any such "dialogue" in the papers and drawings suggests the same. And it's easy to see if there is commentary back and forth by the same person, as in someone working out their thoughts alone, but in writing. See Rand's Journals (the portions which have been published) for excellent examples of such.

All that being said, this discussion is a little strange, in my assessment. We're dealing in a work of FICTION - - - not a nonfiction history. Rand had a plot to work out, and she did, magnificiently. To the extent that Atlas Shrugged is being purchased in large quantities even to this day...

Bill P

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Dagny found handwritten notes and drawings (they didn't have word processors and graphics software in those days). This was a very easy judgement to make.

Why do you think that handwritten notes and drawings rule out the collaborative effort of an engineering team? There isn't any reason to believe that. Would an engineering team not have had handwritten notes and drawings?

It might be somewhat helpful to go back and read what is actually in the novel (p.288). The description, such as it was, was the remnants of a typescript. Dagny and Hank just assume it was the work of one man's mind. A better explanation is that scientists are more likely to come up with an individualistic break through while engineers are more team oriented. Rand had more the psychology of an engineer than that of a creative person. Hence Roark, who really didn't have a creative bone in his body except she said he did as opposed to Frank Lloyd Wright who combined creativity with the actual end product. He kept turning out designs until he died. Rand mostly stopped making up stories well before she stopped writing AS. Note, I am not saying Rand didn't have a lot of creativity in her. That would be silly.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Let's look at the information:

1) The handwritten notes and drawings probably were done with the same handwriting. This would be highly suggestive of a single mind at work. Does it prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that it was so? Of course not. But it makes is a very reasonable working hypothesis. Why would one assume the working of a team on such a highly innovative creation, when all the handwriting was of a single person? A single person could easily be the sole scribe - but then they would surely have recorded some cases where the team had vigorous discussion, and captured the differing opinions.

Now let's have a look at the real information that we have, namely the text in Atlas Shrugged. This is the relevant passage:

She found part of what she hoped had remained in existence. It was a thin sheaf of typewritten pages clamped together—the remnant of a manuscript. Its beginning and end were gone; the bits of paper left under the clamp showed the thick number of pages it had once contained. The paper was yellowed and dry. The manuscript had been a description of the motor.

So the "handwritten notes and drawings" turn out to be a few typewritten pages, that's all that is left of the written documentation. There is no way you can conclude from such meager evidence that the motor was designed by one single man. Moreover, a typewritten description of the motor will probably have been made by one single person, most likely a secretary. So there wasn't indeed any reason to conclude that it was the work of one single man.

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Let's look at the information:

1) The handwritten notes and drawings probably were done with the same handwriting. This would be highly suggestive of a single mind at work. Does it prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that it was so? Of course not. But it makes is a very reasonable working hypothesis. Why would one assume the working of a team on such a highly innovative creation, when all the handwriting was of a single person? A single person could easily be the sole scribe - but then they would surely have recorded some cases where the team had vigorous discussion, and captured the differing opinions.

Now let's have a look at the real information that we have, namely the text in Atlas Shrugged. This is the relevant passage:

She found part of what she hoped had remained in existence. It was a thin sheaf of typewritten pages clamped together—the remnant of a manuscript. Its beginning and end were gone; the bits of paper left under the clamp showed the thick number of pages it had once contained. The paper was yellowed and dry. The manuscript had been a description of the motor.

So the "handwritten notes and drawings" turn out to be a few typewritten pages, that's all that is left of the written documentation. There is no way you can conclude from such meager evidence that the motor was designed by one single man. Moreover, a typewritten description of the motor will probably have been made by one single person, most likely a secretary. So there wasn't indeed any reason to conclude that it was the work of one single man.

I don't have my copy of Atlas with me here, so haven't referred to it.

Doesn't it suggest in the text that there are diagrams/drawings? I can't easily check this for myself until I get back home in Shanghai. I would think it likely that diagrams/drawings might be handdrawn.

In any event, consider point #2.

Regards,

Bill P

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Dragonfly is correct that the manuscript was typewritten (AS, p. 269).

On p. 304 Dagny speaks with a Mrs. Hastings, widow of William Hastings, who had been chief engineer at Twentieth Century Motor Company. Mrs. Hastings says: "A motor? Yes. Yes, he [William Hastings] spoke of it several times. He said it was an invention of incalculable importance. But it was not he who had designed it. It was the invention of a young assistant of his."

On p. 305 Mrs. Hastings relates picking up her husband after he had dinner with two other men. She didn't know their names, but one was the young assistant and she later found the other as a cook in a diner in Wyoming. The names aren't given, but they were pretty clearly John Galt and Hugh Akston.

P.S. There is no mention of drawings in the manuscript.

Edited by Merlin Jetton
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> Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? [anonymous]

For the same reason that the Nobel prizes are (normally) awarded to indivduals not the IBM research center or the University of X chemistry department. For the same reason that in reality Thomas Edison invented a thousand things, or Henry Ford made the assembly line work, or Steve Jobs is the motor behind the macintosh software, and the ipod, and the iphone - and no group or corporation, no matter how large seems able to duplicate what he does. For the same reason that Michelangelo conceived of the ideas and painted every brush stroke of the Sistine Chapel and cut every chisel stroke of the "David."

For the same reason, as most of us who have experience in the business or corporate world can attest, the original good ideas normally come from one person's head, even though the entire committeer or engineering group may either take credit or may work out many of the subsidiary details.

And engineering group, none of whom was the primary one, having the basic insight or breakthrough is the exception, not the rule in reality. In most lines of endeavor - maybe a team creates the graphics for "Toy Story 6" or other areas where no one man can do all the work or the thinking is too specialized or too sprawling across disciplines. But surprisingly enough, there is in so many cases (not every one!) a creative genius or technical innovator or driving force who is responsible for not just one time only, but serially, driving or foundational insights or breakthroughs.

> The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch.[Xray]

I agree. They are all fully realistic in the sense that possible, actual or historic parallels exist, and are not 'miraculous', as the history of great inventions, of science, of new countries like the U.S. with a 'miraculous' new constitution and approach to making rights and law clearly drawn and possible show. I would probably go further and say that many of the 'naturalistic' approaches to fiction are not realistic in he profound way that Atlas and Fountainhead are.

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I agree. They are all fully realistic in the sense that possible, actual or historic parallels exist, and are not 'miraculous', as the history of great inventions, of science, of new countries like the U.S. with a 'miraculous' new constitution and approach to making rights and law clearly drawn and possible show. I would probably go further and say that many of the 'naturalistic' approaches to fiction are not realistic in he profound way that Atlas and Fountainhead are.

Galt's ficticious invention (the atmospheric electricity generator) is physically impossible. It violates the second law of thermodynamics. A copper based metal harder than steel is equally contrary to the known physical properties of metals. Had Reardon "invente" a carbon fiber composite material, that would have been possible (such things exists), but Rand had no way of knowing about carbon composites in 1956.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I agree. They are all fully realistic in the sense that possible, actual or historic parallels exist, and are not 'miraculous', as the history of great inventions, of science, of new countries like the U.S. with a 'miraculous' new constitution and approach to making rights and law clearly drawn and possible show. I would probably go further and say that many of the 'naturalistic' approaches to fiction are not realistic in he profound way that Atlas and Fountainhead are.

Galt's ficticious invention (the atmospheric electricity generator) is physically impossible. It violates the second law of thermodynamics. A copper based metal harder than steel is equally contrary to the known physical properties of metals. Had Reardon "invente" a carbon fiber composite material, that would have been possible (such things exists), but Rand had no way of knowing about carbon composites in 1956.

Ba'al Chatzaf

So what? It IS a work of fiction, afterall. Are you saying that Rand should have come upon a real and workable idea for a motor and she should have abandoned the novel and gone after that, and that failing those things she was a screwup? Did Galt make a speech detailing the particulars about how to make his motor leaving out just enough info to keep the looters from making it? "Laddies and Gentlepersons, Mr. Thompson will not be speaking tonight. His time is over. The world is perishing from lack of an electric motor that runs on static electricity. A motor I invented and you can't have. Ha, ha. Just to prove to you I did it I'm now going to talk about it for the next three hours."

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Why do Dagny and Hank assume that the motor had been invented by a single man, as opposed to a collaborative effort by an engineering team? Of course, it could have been either, but they automatically know that it was created by a single man. Why?

This was an artifact of the novel. A plot "gimmick" if you will. I think it is wrong minded to regard the characters of -Atlas Shrugged- as real live human beings. While the properties of the characters may be composite constructs of real live human beings, the characters, as such, are mental constructs created by Ayn Rand. Reifying fictional characters can lead to some bizarre conclusions.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch.

or German kindness

Adam

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Galt's ficticious invention (the atmospheric electricity generator) is physically impossible. It violates the second law of thermodynamics. A copper based metal harder than steel is equally contrary to the known physical properties of metals.

These were not the only inventions by Rand having no basis in realtiy.

To name but two examples, the "stolen concept" (ITOE; just curious: how does one go about absconding with one?) and value-seeking plants are right up there too. :D

Edited by Xray
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Pete,

Right. That even seems flat-out obvious to me. I am always amazed that people miss this kind of stuff.

Not the newbies who have suddenly been impacted by a whole lot of new stuff. Then it's easy to make an elementary oversight like that. But people who have read and read and discussed and discussed really don't have an excuse.

Michael

It's my first time reading Atlas. Or reading any kind of fiction for that matter.

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The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch.

or German kindness

or American greatness

or Dutch rectitude and kindnesses in the SW Pacific

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I agree. They are all fully realistic in the sense that possible, actual or historic parallels exist, and are not 'miraculous', as the history of great inventions, of science, of new countries like the U.S. with a 'miraculous' new constitution and approach to making rights and law clearly drawn and possible show. I would probably go further and say that many of the 'naturalistic' approaches to fiction are not realistic in he profound way that Atlas and Fountainhead are.

Galt's ficticious invention (the atmospheric electricity generator) is physically impossible. It violates the second law of thermodynamics. A copper based metal harder than steel is equally contrary to the known physical properties of metals. Had Reardon "invente" a carbon fiber composite material, that would have been possible (such things exists), but Rand had no way of knowing about carbon composites in 1956.

Ba'al Chatzaf

So what? It IS a work of fiction, afterall. Are you saying that Rand should have come upon a real and workable idea for a motor and she should have abandoned the novel and gone after that, and that failing those things she was a screwup? Did Galt make a speech detailing the particulars about how to make his motor leaving out just enough info to keep the looters from making it? "Laddies and Gentlepersons, Mr. Thompson will not be speaking tonight. His time is over. The world is perishing from lack of an electric motor that runs on static electricity. A motor I invented and you can't have. Ha, ha. Just to prove to you I did it I'm now going to talk about it for the next three hours."

--Brant

She could have come up with a fictional invention that was did not violate a well known scientific law. Or at least put in some remark along the way that let us know she was aware of the problem. "Oh, this is wonderful! He's even found a way get around the second law of thermodynamics, Hank! It's a perpetual motion machine that actually works!"

Rearden's metal is less of a problem. You'd have to be familiar with metallurgy or engineering to understand the problem Baal refers to, and the problem could be solved in terms of scientific knowledge that appeared in her lifetime. Unlike Galt's motor, it was, if not plausible, at least not scientifically impossible.

Jeffrey S.

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The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch.

or German kindness

or American greatness

Problem is the fact pattern of America and brutal tyrannical fact pattern you would have to argue going back to the friendly fellows the Huns maybe?

I only have to cover 200 or so years. And you have to get down on one knee and thank us for sparing your people, rebuilding your countries economy and of course protecting your ungrateful sneering people who wish to forget what the Russians did to the other half of the your country.

What does you comrade in arms say...check your premises.

That's ok, we can even survive the ungrateful.

Adam

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