[ExI] bikinis, was: RE: Enlightenment - was Re: statins

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 20:16:09 UTC 2016


I found out that the situation was even worse than Segre reported because
he noticed certain boxes in big lots in a room, but he didn't notice a lot
of boxes in another room on the other side of the same wall - and things
like that. Now, if you have too much stuff together, it goes up, you see.

            So I went through the entire plant. I have a very bad memory,
but when I work intensively I have a good short-term memory, and so I could
remember all kinds of crazy things like building 90-207, vat number so and
so, and so forth.

            I went home that night, and I went through the whole thing,
explained where all the dangers were, and what you would have to do to fix
this. It's rather easy. You put cadmium in solutions to absorb the neutrons
in the water, and you separate the boxes so they are not too dense,
according to certain rules.

On Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 12:45 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

> >
>> ​> ​
>> If they had followed the letter of the law the entire Oak Ridge plant
>> would have blown up…
> ​>​
> On the contrary John.  The rules said they had to separate the material.
> Had they followed the rules without understanding why, everything would be
> fine.

​No, things wouldn't have been fine because they wouldn't have known what
"separate" means. ​
​For example, Feynman found that they put U-235 in "separate" rooms and
they thought they were following orders and everything was fine, but ​that
wasn't fine because the U-235 was just on the other side of plywood walls,
and plywood is made of light elements that don't absorb neutrons but just
slow them down. And that makes things more dangerous not less because slow
neutrons are more likely to cause a nuclear reaction than fast ones.
Nuclear physics is a complex thing and so was that huge plant, no set of
rules of manageable length that the workers would or could follow could
keep things safe if they didn't know what they were doing or even why it
was important to follow such seemingly pointless rules.

> ​>
> Feynman had never been in the military.

​And the vast majority of the workers in the plant were not in the military
either, and even the minority that were had only been in the army for a few
months or even weeks.

​> ​
He injected his opinion that soldiers, (including the commander) wouldn’t
follow rules unless they know why they are in place.  It is possible
Feynman was right, but we don’t know.

> If Richard Feynman had an opinion on nuclear physics and a military flunky
who didn't know the difference between a neutron
 a moron had the opposite opinion which one would you put your money on?

> > Trained soldiers know to follow orders even if they don’t understand them

Trained soldiers
​ didn't work at the plant either civilians did​, and nobody can follow
orders if they don't understand them. If you didn't know that  fast
neutrons and slow neutrons behave very differently and in the exact
opposite way you'd intuitively think they would, or if you didn't even know
what a neutron is then you don't know what the order "keep the
stuff separate" means or why such a silly sounding order is a matter of
life or death.

John K Clark
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20160911/cac50778/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list