Thursday, April 14, 2005

The sound advice will be applicable after Nanos leaves

From Anonymous, taken from the


The original poster has many excellent ideas. The sound advice will be applicable after Nanos leaves. No platitude will overwrite the fact that, by credible estimates, our director has cost the American taxpayer $1B and much of this cost lies unethically hidden in programmatic codes. If a diversion of this magnitude has not adversely impacted national security then what are we doing here? But as one poster said, Nanos has done some good things. Of course, throughout history all tyrants have sometimes made the trains run on time, lowered crime rates, and reduced the prevalence of genetic abnormalities. Some may say these are some good things, but one must always carefully weight costs. The cost I see is the Laboratory to which I have devoted most of by professional life being sucked dry of its vitality and corporate knowledge, having its people abused and belittled, being destroyed by petty procedures and impediments, and having its future decimated and raided for petty convenience.

Scientists will behave like scientists in everything they do. Why should we be surprised. That behavior includes critiquing their managers. Some managers have trouble with this fact of life. I don't. In fact, if my staff will not question my actions as a manager then I should replace them with staff that will. Experience has shown me that great scientists have problems operating within structured oligarchies because oligarchies operate under the premise that the paths to solutions have already been developed. History gives us an example uniquely applicable to this place. Specifically, the reason the Third Reich failed to develop a nuclear weapon was that German scientists were in a structure that forbade questions. Most of the questioning scientists that would have questioned Heisenberg's errors had fled Germany and many came to Los Alamos where in the give-and-take environment they accomplished the impossible in the space of just two years.

Without that legacy of questioning physics and management that forms the bedrock of Los Alamos, there would be no requirement for this blog. If one existed, it likely would be composed in either German or Japanese.

Yeah, but at least we can be glad it didn't turn out to be Russian or Chinese! (We'd REALLY need different keyboards!)
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