Making The World Safe For Science - One Supermodel At A Time
Science Is Not A Business For The Squeamish
Or for the sensitive. To wit, I still haven't cracked the top 50 science blogs but I think it's mostly because I don't shriek about evolution or global warming. There are blogs on that list that haven't been updated since April so how many people link to you can be misleading.
Science ... real science,not academia, where people have lots of time to blog ... isn't for the squeamish. If you've been in the private sector, you know they expect results.
Take this example. It's an email I had forwarded to me from one of my applications engineers;
"XXXXXX, I got the inductance results on the subset of our package and your explanation of why they were different than I expected and, I have to tell you, they hit 8.2 on the bullsh*t Richter scale."
It went downhill from there. Now, to help you calibrate, this guy was a consultant and his whole mission in life was to get a contract at the expense of the people actually employed at the customer's company.
Naturally, science had to come to the rescue. The consultant was using some software that calculated partial inductance rather than loop inductance. Rookie mistake, but you can't go all elitist on him about that so I did my best to mediate and called the customer.
"Well, Cash," says he, "I have different software giving me different capacitance and inductance. Some are giving me loop inductance, some are giving me partial. Just tell me; which one do I trust?"
"Which one matches the measured data?" I asked.
He laughed at that. Then he laughed a little more, this time nervously. "Are you serious?"
"I am. Your test guys are setting up a problem and your simulation guys are setting up a problem. They may not be setting up the same problem so as long as you're hitting your 50Ohm target I guess it doesn't matter which one is the most correct. It will make the test guys happy if you match their measured data."
He's a young guy heading a big project for the first time. "I am not sure that will work," he says.
"Welcome to the world of science. Sometimes accuracy isn't the most important thing, perception of accuracy is the most important thing. And you want the best results - that you can get. But you need to stop trying once you reach the performance spec.
"On the one hand, I thought, "Yayyyy, PBS finally took a moral stand" and on the other hand, I thought, "Why couldn't they start with Bill Moyers?" So PBS now has the perception of looking out for your kids even though your kid loves the girl they fired and isn't likely to be googling her on the internet. And, since you're a healthy American male, I bet your little sproutlet enjoyed watching her jump around in her pajamas before bedtime too."
"You lost me."
"Well, it doesn't matter. You asked which results to go with. Use the loop inductance. Partial inductance was just invented to get quick and dirty answers. Any consultant should know that."
posted by Buckaroo at 7:21 AM