I learned over the weekend that Dick “Motorcycle” Morley is in the hospital getting his knees worked on again. He says that he’s going crazy, and hopes to be paroled today.
I also learned that all work and no play make Heap Big Editor very hard to live with. I enjoyed my brief hiatus, and hope to take another one real soon.
Now, let’s talk about engineering. Whatever made NASA let the space shuttle Discovery go up? Clearly, it ain’t been fixed. And for that matter, why did BP Texas City have another fire? Don’t they get it yet?
The problem is that engineers think in well worn tracks. Many scientists do. This is the message of Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” in which he introduced the well-overused concept of paradigm shift.
Everybody in scientific disciplines works this way…it is part of the deal. Nobody looks outside the well accepted formulae, until some brave crusader, who usually winds up being crucified for his or her originality, points out that “the emperor has no clothes,” upon which, the well accepted formulae change.
You think this doesn’t work? Know about “the rule of 48?” In the 1940s, it was a known fact that the human being had 48 chromosomes. No kidding, get an old textbook and look. Finally, a young grad student noticed that in all the pictures he was seeing, he could only count 46.
We see what we want to see, and we think we’ve solved problems we haven’t solved.
Maybe NASA needed to hire Burt Rutan, the designer of SpaceshipOne, to head the engineering task force that pronounced the Discovery safe to fly.
What do you think?