The first is self-evident – however, the need for anonymity is an enigma. Sure, it is obviously convenient but this does not completely explain the mystery. There is something fundamental about superheros that shield them from public gaze.
Real superheros don’t need masks or costumes, because they are actually invisible.
I discovered their existence quite by accident when I stumbled over the keys to their camouflage. Their influence permeates every facet of our modern life. I suddenly realised just how dependant we mortals are on them. They are continuously performing spectacular feats, day-in day-out right in front of our faces and yet we just can’t see them.
These superheros are our engineers.
Throughout history, engineers have performed spectacular feats to transform the human race into what we are today. It’s a process that continues at an ever-accelerating pace – yet how many of us could name just three of them?
It was engineers who built the pyramids, the Acropolis, the Roman aqueducts, the Great Wall of China, the steam engine, the combustion engine, aeroplanes, space-crafts. It was engineers who moved vast armies across theatres of war and delivered the devastating ordinance that changed the political course of history.
Yet when we think back over all these events, or read the historic literature, there is not a lot to recall these engineers. As a society we focus on the egotists – the charismatic political leaders, generals, admirals or decorated heroes.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth," declared Winston Churchill.The missing quote: “Exactly how we will get there and back will be up to our engineers.”
Every time we get behind the wheel of a car, step on to a train or a plane or into an elevator, or drive over a bridge we put our lives into the hands of these superheros with their algorithms.
By Leonard McDonnell