The Hot Tandem At Molten Metal

As the man in charge of helping students and faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology market their inventions, John T. Preston has seen thousands of ideas. Most never make it off the drawing board. But one day in 1987, a young grad student named Christopher J. Nagel approached Preston after a lecture with a concept that set his pulse racing. Before coming to MIT, Nagel had patented a novel way to dispose of hazardous wastes by dissolving them in a bath of molten metal. The concept was a potential blockbuster, Preston realized. The problem: Nagel had zero business experience, and his hazy notions about how to commercialize his idea lacked coherence.

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