Innovation saves Jack from the Giant

Well, not really, but I just had to post a paragraph from Devendra Sahal’s classic paper, Technological guideposts and innovation avenues (ref below). Sahal brings classic literature into an economic treatise on innovation and weaves the story to accurately make his point. It’s brilliant!

We are therefore assured that contrary to the narrative of Jack the Giant Killer, Jack had no reason to be afraid of the giant. If the giant were ten times as large as an average man, and had similar proportions, he would indeed be a weakling at best. This is because his weight would be a thousand times that of the average man. However, the cross-sections of his bones would be only a hundred times those of the average man so that every square inch of his bone had to support ten times the weight withstood by a square inch of the average man’s bone. Chances were that the giant could not walk one step without fracturing his thighs. Jack had every reason to feel perfectly safe and sound.

(Sahal, Devendra, 1985.”Technological guideposts and innovation avenues,” Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 61-82, April.)

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