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Information Wants to Be Shared by Joshua Gans

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Introduction

In 1905, a then obscure Swiss patent examiner published a paper that revolutionized physics. The paper’s motivating issue was how to observe simultaneous events. As it turned out, the issue of simultaneity and, indeed, how to guarantee that two events were observed at the same time had perplexed many, none more than those in charge of running railroads. In the decades previous, many collisions could be traced back to scheduling problems and a lack of consistency in the time registered by clocks in different locations. And as engineers and inventors struggled to work out ways of synchronizing the clocks in different locations, they filed patents with their designs and proposed solutions. It is entirely plausible that for young ...

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