From: Tucson, AZ
Here's a story I want to tell you to cheer you up which comes from "Richard Feynman Lecture -- "Los Alamos From Below" on youtube:
Richard was one of the theoretical physists, working on the Manhatten Project during the mid-40's in WWII. It became important that SOMEONE from the team of people he managed, to go to Oak Ridge and review the plans they had for building the infrastructure that would eventually become the facilities that would begin separating the uranium isotopes to purify the output product through several stages of purification, for the production of a final, highly radioactive, green, fissible, cadmium-uranium-water product. Kept in specifically sized lead-cladded containers which needed to be kept laterally separate, lest a productive exchange of neutrons get started and result in, at the very least, a massive rise in insurance costs for the remainder of the project....it would explode, you see. To prevent any drama stemming from the design of the plant then, it was important that SOMEONE vist the Oak Ridge plant to judge the safety of the proposed process, even though there are ony blueprints of any potential infracture. It would take a special person, conversant in many different scientific fields simutaneously. Such a person didn't exist, but SOMEBODY had to make SOME kind of effort in this reguard so Richard delegated the trip to Oak Ridge to one of his most experienced engineers who suddenly came down with pneumonia with the result that Richard himself had to go.
He said that when he entered the meeting room at Oak Ridge he saw a very long table laid ontop of which was a very long blueprint of the entire process in the language of blueprints. If it were a stack of pages instead of one long document, it would be a sizeable stack. A square with a diagonal line through it, he discovered later, is the symbol for a valve, etc. and Richard said that he was looking at a bewildering jungle of lines and symbols and he could make neither heads nor tails of most of it but didn't say anything or ask any questions for a length of time that would have made any question he asked *now*, to immediately announce to his peers that he was confused. He was there to represent Los Alamos scientists and needed to project a certain role while there to represent all the other Los Alamos scientists as knowlegable and intelligent and for him to ask a trivial question now, displaying obvious ignorance, was unthinkable. So he just kept his mouth to himself and mostly nodded his head and went through the motions for about a half an hour while the Oak Ridge experts pointed at symbols and waved and spoke elequently about the process of the potiential plant. They made it a point to point out to Richard that they were including redundancy in all the more important processes. A stuck valve was not allowed to be the hazzard it might be, there must be a second valve that could be employed to avoid any drama or damage. They seemed to be bragging about it. When they stated to go thorugh the redundancy theme for the second time, Richard became somewhat bored, and he thought he'd perform an experiment just for laughs and giggles, and point to one of those boxes with a diagonal line through it and refer to it as a "valve" just to get some measure of his ignorance and perhaps as well, measure the expertise of these chemical engineers and structural engineers but mostly just to waste some of the time....this had already been going on for about 45 minutes at this point and he was getting really bored. [ I've heard the voice of Richard Finman myself, saying in so many words, that this is absolutely true what I'm about to tell you but you're going to say that it couldn't possibly have happened that way ]. He said that he waited for a lull in the presentation and pointed to one of those boxes-with-a-diagonal-line-through-it symbols, completely at random, and blurted out: "what happens if this valve get's stuck?".
And the team of Oak Ridge engineers went to work and began going back and forth through the blueprint tracing the flow of the various products of a green, highly radioactive cadmium-uranium-water mixture moved. After several minutes of a highly technical conversation the engineers confered among themselves and all soon came to the same conclusion. They all turned to Richard and admitted it was a gamestopper. That one item invalidated their entire process, had exposed their flaw, and would cause a massive revision to the proposed process. The Oak Ridge man in charge said: "You're absolutely right. It's a major problem." Richard said his stature in the scientific community gained a huge boost because of that one episode, which he swears is absolutely true.
< Message edited by larryfulkerson -- 8/6/2019 5:26:22 AM >
“The single greatest threat to our national security is our debt.” –Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff