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A Bigger Prize by Margaret Heffernan

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CHAPTER 7

Clone Wars

While many young engineers aspire to retirement at forty, Andy Hildebrand got his wish. He had spent eighteen years working on signal processing in the oil industry. Sending sound waves down below the earth’s surface produced reflections that, when correlated correctly, could map what the waves hit and where. For companies like Exxon, this was a critical tool for identifying oil reserves. That the stakes were high taught Hildebrand an invaluable lesson.

“It really gave me a sense of quality that is very demanding,” he tells me. “Coming from the oil industry, where people are going to spend maybe $300 million, $600 million ...

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