Re: Bureaucracies, genomes & vaccines

John Clark (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 01:14:49 -0400

Hash: SHA1

Robert J. Bradbury <> On July 05, 1999

>In a highly competitive environment, you cannot make the
>investments necessary for long term R&D projects.

Nonsense. In a highly competitive environment you must make long term R &D projects or you're dead.

>You *also* generally *do not* undertake projects that will result in
>the elimination of your market.

Yes, some companies try that, it never works. Just ask IBM how well their tactic of ignoring the microprocessor for as long as possible so it wouldn't interfere with their mainframe business worked out.

>Government bureaucracies *do work*, in situations where
>the economic justifications for projects cannot be
>made in industry (who have to watch the bottom line).

Government research is obscenely inefficient but it does sometimes do some good, even a monkey giving away a vast amount of money would sometimes fund something worthwhile also. It's unfortunately true that Government does not watch the bottom line, that's why it wasted 100 billion dollars or so on space shuttle "science". Instead of watching the bottom line government watches the next election.

Most of the world's great telescopes were built with private funds donated by rich men, including the largest of all, the two 394 inch Keck installments on Mauna Kea. None of the men who gave money for these things expected their telescope to make a profit. If government wasn't around to steal a large pat of their money people like this would give even more. I think it's interesting that one of the biggest contributors to Big Science, Charles Yerkes, made much of his money by building street car lines, until government put him out of business when they decided they could run them much, much better.

The first laser was made in May 1960 at the PRIVATE Hughes Research Laboratory by Harold Maimam. True, it was called a solution in search of a problem until 20 years later when private companies in Japan found a way to mass produce semiconductor lasers and started using them in CD players and Corning glass used them in fiber optic lines.

A very small company, Geron Corporation, found a , key to cellular aging. Another small company found a way to clone mammals.

The breakthrough on High Temperature superconductors was made by IBM at their Zurich laboratory, Muller and Bednorz, both IBM employees received Nobel prizes. The very same IBM lab also made what is unquestionably the single most important advance in Nanotechnology up to this point, The Scanning Tunneling Microscope and earned another Nobel prize for IBM employees Binnig and Rohrer. IBM is also where the newer Atomic Force Microscope and Magnetic Resonance Microscope were invented.

60 years ago Bell Labs discovered that some radio waves come from space and built the world's first radio telescope, more recently Bell Labs revolutionized Cosmology by detecting the 3 degree Kelvin black body background radiation from The BIG BANG and got a Nobel Prize for it. Bell Labs also invented the transistor and got another Nobel Prize for that. Texas Instruments invented the integrated circuit, INTEL invented the microprocessor to fulfill a contract from a Japanese calculator company.

A lot of good work comes from private universities. MIT was started in 1845 mostly with Erastus Bigelow's money, using the vast fortune he made in the power loom manufacturing business. CAL TECH is also a privet institution, so is Harvard, so is Yale, so is Princeton, so is Carnegie Mellon, so is The Institute For Advanced Study, so is Stanford. Speaking of Stanford, Calvin Quate of that privet university used an Atomic Force Microscope invented at IBM to make the worlds smallest transistor. He was able to make lines less than 100 nanometers wide.

John K Clark

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