In this space, visitors are invited to post any comments, questions, or skeptical observations about Philo T. Farnsworth's contributions to the field of Nuclear Fusion research.
Subject: Gentleman Scientists
Date: May 13, 09:50 am
Poster: Richard Hull
On May 13, 09:50 am, Richard Hull wrote:
It is striking to see a number of interesting periodical publications hit the market in this day and age.
One in particular is Gene Malove's "Infinite Energy". It contains interesting concepts and possible energy solutions for the future. It was orginally started as a "cold fusion keep-alive" type of publication. It is a strange mix of material. The great thing is it is free of certain classic guidlines of scientific publications. First it is not peer reviewed. Second, it is open to radical new concepts. None of the mainline publications are quite this free and open.
Science has settled into a rather comfortable late twentieth century malaise after learning how to be in bed with industry. Science has developed a need to be big or not be at all. Living standards are such that any decent scientist is out for the bucks just like anyone else. Due to massive projects of the WW-II era starting a trend, science seemingly won't make major moves without industry or government funding, guaranteeing employment for the foreseeale future.
The exception to this is a few wide eyed under graduates and very new post grads who will starve a bit for the good of science.
The mentality is ever present that only big projects and big science is going to push the frontiers of knowledge back.
THE GENTLEMAN SCIENTIST
The above was not always the case. Having investigated a number of scientists and studied letters mouldering away in a number of universities and libraries, I am most impressed by the letters that flew between the earlier scientific minds of the 1700s and 1800s. I am talking about the likes of Hooke, Oersted, Ampere, Volta, Franklin, Davy, and Faraday.
These people were for the most part, and certainly in their early efforts, pretty much self-funded gentlemen of science.
It is heartening and interesting to see how they transferred ideas in the early "Transactions", journals and in letters. Many of them had half baked ideas at first which were refined as they went along. They were not afraid to advance a silly theory and after a few months retract with ammendments and apologies.
Today we want something "wholeformed"! We want it tied up with little ribbons ready for consumption! We want a paying idea! It is what makes the world go round.
I am happy to see a breaking of the old mold of institutionalized science. Science was becoming a tightly controlled priesthood. Outsiders need not apply.
The latest spat of "loves labor" journals allow all sorts of ideas to come forward. As always, the mind of thinking men will look at each grain submitted and effectively sift through the chaff.
The submissions will border on the ridulous at times. Some ideas will gain adherants, but will ultimately stand or fall the old fashion way...on merit or lack of it in the long term.
It took about 10 years for me to just accept the idea that amateurs or gentlemen scientists have much to offer. I was hung in that mode where I felt that big science was the only good science.
I have noted that there are many more whackos out there than respectable amateur scientists. But this is the way it is in the real world too.
The internet helps in that it is a vehicle for more frustrated minds both good and bad.
My key to weeding through the whackos is quite simply "what have they actually done"?!!!! What are they now doing about there ideas? Do they have plans in the works about doing anything..Ever? If the answer is "nothing" or if it is just "tirades of giberish about the same old conspiracy", well, they fall into the trash bin.
I would suggest that the idea of the gentleman scientist is, and will never be, lost in spite of the modern world's seeming refusal to accept anything that doesn't come from established academe or usable industry.
The idea of fusion energy is quite old now and the heavy funding has been with the tokomak and the laser blasted inertial confinement types (both incredibly expensive!). It may be time to check another avenue.
I costs nothing to listen to an idea.
Richard Hull, TCBOR