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Friday, February 22, 2008

"Engineering Skills" in Shorter Supply than previously Imagined!

I have just taken a visit to Dave Bradley's Sciencebase site- mostly about chemstry.

It was a worthwhile visit. Of course it usually is. In this instance the added value concerned not chemistry, but engineering policy.

I stumbled upon a checklist entitled " Technological To-Do List " the list of most important engineering challenges by "experts."

Quite eye opening critical comments where made by David.

In particular he points out that since we are so close to engineering solar power, economically (I am translating liberally) why invest so heavily in Nuclear Fusion?
(NB. I am based in France-but not in the favoured South East of France- where the experimental reactor ITER is to be based. Worse, I remember quite clearly the Nobel prize winner the late Pierre-Gilles de Gennes' criticism of the ITER project. In one sentence P-G. de Gennes pointed out that this project lacked not only the resolution of some fundamental physics problems, but also did not respect the basic scaling rules of sound chemical engineering! NB. P-G, another of my mentors, was until his death, the Director of The Paris School of Industrial Physics & Chemistry, (ENSPCI) and member of the Board, for R&D, of several companies, noteably Rhodia)

As for the GHG-Green House Gases-critics, since we are concerned with "safety engineering safely", the only valid question, to my mind, is what engineering can and will be done to alleviate, mitigate, alter the current predicted "unmanageable" climate changes.

I am pleased he was not to harsh with my "mentor" Rob Socolow, source of my "Wedge-a-War" web-log.

Having let-off some steam, body temperature back to normal, I promise to read Dave Bradley (FRSC) Technological To-Do List on Sciencebase as well as R Socolow's comments at Princeton Engineering & Applied Science with more care, and to accept R Socolow's invitation to visit Engineering Challenges[Link]

R Socolow's invitation

Comments suggestions questions on my interpretation welcome.

2 commentaires:

David Bradley Science Writer said...


Thanks for the write-up. I realize that whole exercise was done basically as a PR exercise at the AAAS meeting in Boston, but it does show that there is some simplistic and wayward thinking going on at the top of those ivory towers, does it not?


PS Preciously ---> Previously???

J. Alexander said...

Indeed, David.

We in Nevers, France (Dept58)have no Ivory Towers,(of Univ. Dons I presume) maybe some perfectly valid; deaf, dumb & blind as anywhere. But,since 2005, we do have a "Bar Des Sciences(BSc)." It's the only one in the EU in a town with a population of <100 000p (38 000p actually)- The BSc is the most frequented in Europe, I am led to believe. So through this and a good general public library with Internet we are genned-up on Global Energy/Climate-Change (CC)& of course_"The Golden oldies!":"Global Over Population Famine_Starvation_Drought_Water & Atmos. Pollution_Unemployment, loss of 12 000p in about 10y". And "for all that and all that" Space Exploration & is a favourite crowd puller. Could it be just to "get away from it all"?

Thanks for the editing. I plead creative error again, "precious imagination" there is a lot more to come on http://no-holds-bard.blogspot.com

ps. We also have the biggest reserve of coal left in Europe, I am led to believe according to one account in Wikipedia in French So..?