What Are the Hidden Costs of Exploration?
Thoroughness in her research led Marie Curie to the discovery of the new elements polonium and radium, eventually earning her the Nobel Prize. But her research was meagerly funded, and most of her work was carried out in a converted shed. The radiation in this make-do research environment severely affected her health and eventually caused her death. Only after that unfortunate outcome did researchers make it a priority to protect themselves against radiation.
“You must spend money to make money.”— Titus Maccius Plautus
Pan American World Airways was in a great spot in 1968: a pioneer in using jet planes, it had scheduled connections to 86 countries across all major continents. Operations were profitable, and the airline had accumulated cash reserves totaling $1 billion. But as the economy worsened during the 1973 oil crisis, the company failed to respond to the increasingly harsh environment with an adequate cost-reduction drive. Pan Am’s heterogeneous fleet and decentralized infrastructure became liabilities, incurring high overhead and operating costs. Repeated attempts to restructure and reposition the airline came too late, and in 1991, Pan Am had to declare bankruptcy.