Page 1 of 1

Gratitude or Fear

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:00 pm
by MSimon


Motivations in science. Gratitude is the purer. Fear the more easily exploitable.

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:24 pm
by drmike
Richard S. Lindzen wrote: the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small
executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the
distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken.
I don't think it's fear, I think it's getting recognition. All people want to have their accomplishments recognized, scientists tend to want to be Newton or Einstein level. The complexity and interconnections of all science now makes that level of accomplishment almost impossible.

"Almost" is the key word - and it is the possibility of huge recognition that drives most scientists to fit into the environment that has been created by the need for large experiments. I think the odds are less than winning a PowerBall lotto, but if you don't play, you can't win. :)

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:57 pm
by JohnP
Interestingly though, the mass media has helped create rock star scientists... so if you can figure out how to comb your hair and speak engagingly about your subject, people like that, too.

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 4:04 pm
by MSimon
I have been speaking out for a long time here and elsewhere against using fear (global warming, peak oil) as the basis for promoting BFRs.

It distorts the whole enterprise. It is how you wind up with boondoggles like ITER where the goal takes precedence over science. And what is the goal of ITER? Keeping a lot of people employed under one roof.

I like the US program a lot better. A distributed effort with lots of unusual ideas being tested.

As Dr. Mike has noted: a lot of the knowledge expected from ITER could be gained from 100 small experiments at 1/10th the total cost of ITER and probably 1/5th the time or less. Science first, engineering second.