Closing Remarks


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Title: Closing Remarks

Author(s): Hubert Rusch

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 55


Appears on pages(s): 641-656


Date: 8/1/1978

The purpose of Closing Remarks is usually to integrate the concepts contained in contributions to a symposium volume with the intention of showing new directions for future work, I hope you will forgive me if I deviate from this pattern, I feel that this symposium volume in memory of our common friend Douglas McHenry should not be concluded without our having paid tribute to the example that he offered us as a researcher, It first occurred to me how advanced McHenry's fundamental approach to research was when in 1965 I attended a lecture by the British biologist and Nobel Prize winner Medawar who analyzed the implications of the rapidly burgeoning quantity of scientific data. He prophesied that researchers, even in specialized fields, would be progressively snowed under by numerical data. The human brain is incapable of storing accessibly such a host of records and thus cannot synthesize the data into new ideas, Medawar therefore emphasized the necessity of replacing the many keys opening doors to single rooms with one master key giving direct access to a whole building. He warned against relying on computer systems for extracting meaning from masses of data. Computers cannot replace insight and creativity. The intention of referring to Medawar's statement is to show that McHenry's work as a researcher was inspired to a large extent by a similar spirit, His famous paper "A New Aspect of Creep in Concrete and its Application to Design" (1), published in 1943, typifies his innovative approach. It is a paper full of new ideas, anticipating future developments, but is at the same time an effort to find the master key the designer desperately needed,