An Engineers tale
Berkeley/ Livermore; Former Chief Engineer, Lawrence Radiation Laboratories. .
In the early 1980s I was visiting the home of a good friend, his recently retired father was there. We were sharing beers and swapping lies. When the subject of his fathers’ engineering work at Lawrence Radiation Labs. came up. His father said that the scientists would come to the Laboratories with Large grants to carry out a test of their pet theory. It was up to him to create the experiment that would yield the results that were required. When the needed results were created, they would then write up their paper and publish it. It would then become the foundation of the next step in the “science” of physics. As the cost of the experiment was so high, it was not likely that anyone would ever get the funding to repeat it.
So, he said, I should not believe everything that what was published is an actual fact in physics.
Berkeley Physics Laboratory
On my 1963 visit to a symposium of physics papers and tour of the Berkeley science labs.
As a budding young scientist, the government funded my travel to California Berkeley University to encourage my travel on that path. This allowed me to visit much of the Science Department. In particular the radiation lab run by Lawrence Laboratories. This entailed their Cyclotron, linear accelerator, Detector system, computers, cloud chambers, and photo labs. The biggest and best of that era. They were very proud to show off their toys to the budding, want to be, science students. The Physics work was of some interest to me. The engineering needed! Magnets, shielding, detectors, computers, right down to the time measurements of signal travel in the wires and equipment in nano and pico seconds. That was fascinating! The hell with being a Physicist! I wanted to be an Engineer. Applied Science, real stuff, not lame theory based on Assumptions and verbal higher mathematics priest talk.
After the presentation of the grad students papers on their experiments, facts ( the real science) examined and conclusions that they had drawn. We questioned them. I was struck by the lack of exploration of other things that might have caused the results that they had detected. Generally the experiment was to prove their theory and their argument rather then explore all the possibilities. But then what did I know? I was just a 17 year old, Hick from the Sticks, kid.
When I was a science student we were told that Science was done by creating a theory, Develop an experiment that gathers the facts that you will use to prove your argument. The proven theory then becomes scientific fact.
That can be the path to BS ( Bad Science) if the “proved” facts are bs (bull scat) and the key parts of the argument are based on assumptions from “cited authorities” previous work. pg