What Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Can Teach Engineers

When a designer of smartphone cases made a Frankenstein Monster model for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the company eerily presaged the fate of what has become the most notorious digital device of the decade. Banned from airplanes and the source of sundry injuries because of a penchant for bursting into flames, the Galaxy 7 deserves to be studied by engineers for lessons about responsible practice. Samsung discontinued the phone in October 2016 and—at least publicly—has never given a comprehensive explanation as to why the doomed phone produces so many infernos. The mystery serves as a reminder that failure has much to teach engineers—and so does Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, the prescient 1818 novel by English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.