[ExI] Enlightenment - was Re: statins

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 16:03:36 UTC 2016

On Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 11:09 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

​> ​
> Had General Powell rather than General Styer been in charge of Oak Ridge
> in 1943, the outcome of the effort there and the outcome of the war might
> have been very different.

​If they had followed the letter of the law the entire Oak Ridge plant
would have blown up. The law said it was top secret and the individual
workers at the plant were supposed to be kept completely in the dark and
have absolutely no idea of what they were dealing with. Feynman insisted
that following the letter of the law just wouldn't work and the plant would
never be safe if the workers literally didn't know what they were doing.
Feynman told the Generals:

*“In my opinion it is impossible for them to obey a bunch of rules unless
they understand how it works. So it's my opinion that it's only going to
work if I tell them, and Los Alamos cannot accept the responsibility for
the safety of the Oak Ridge plant unless they are fully informed as to how
it works!"*

​The bigwigs thought about it for a few minutes and then saw that Feynman
was right and gave him permission to ​inform the workers about what was
really going on. Feynman wrote:

> *"​So I sat down and I told them all about neutrons, how they worked, da
da, ta ta ta, there are too many neutrons together, you've got to keep the
material apart, cadmium absorbs, and slow neutrons are more effective than
fast neutrons, and yak yak - all of which was elementary stuff at Los
Alamos, but they had never heard of any of it.​ ​The result was that they
decided to set up little groups to make their own calculations to learn how
to do it. They started to re-design plants, and the designers of the plants
were there, the construction designers, and engineers, and chemical
engineers for the new plant that was going to handle the separated

So the Oak Ridge plant ended up with a excellent safety record because they
didn't follow the USA's laws but did follow the laws of physics.

 John K Clark
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