Joshua Pearce takes unusual satisfaction in strolling through Walmart. The shelves laden with toys, household items, tools and clothing inspire in him a certain smugness, a pride in American entrepreneurship. But it’s not because Pearce admires the chain as an empire built by a self-made man. Pearce swells with pride at Walmart because the store is full of mass-manufactured objects that he...
Suppose there was a fourth little pig. This one was a physicist. Unlike his brother the engineer, who built a house out of tried-and-true bricks, the physicist pig chose a building material by doing calculations based on fundamental principles. He settled on a substance made from silicon and oxygen, an abundant material with high bond strength and the aesthetic bonus of transparency. It was...