From: Steve Biller (Steven.Biller@physics.ox.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Apr 19 2006 - 06:50:48 CDT
A hallmark of our collaboration has been our very thorough exploration
of parameter space. In this spirit, I'd like to at least consider the
of two of the potential options aside from walking away. This probably
has as much to do with a means of venting some of my frustration as
anything else. But, what the hell, like you, I've got plenty to vent...
OPTION A: Digging in (or 'Give War a Chance')
I confess this one is probably most inspired by those immortal lines
from 'Animal House':
"This calls for a really stupid, futile gesture on someone's part."
"We're just the guys to do it!"
but let's play anyway...
Assets at our disposal:
Ours is the strongest scientific proposal. Staffin is sufficiently scared
of a proper peer review that he has not given us due process. Whether
there is a logistical reason for this move is immaterial -> we should
have the right to a proper scientific review. Further note that Daya Bay
is still not yet approved.
First objective: Force a peer review
Plan of Attack (operation 'Stuff Staffin'):
1) Continue to bombard P5, hepap, NuSAG and anyone else with appeals.
Engage Double-Chooz and others to do the same. Get university presidents,
Exalon etc. to also write letters. Get other international colleagues
who have been similarly dumped by the US without warning to get involved.
2) Give talks at departments and conferences. Half on the virtues of
Braidwood and half on the politics being exercised by DOE.
3) Openly attack the deficiencies in Daya Bay. Their detector design is
less silly than before, but it's still silly and we know the US guys
can't do anything about this. Attack that and keep asking why they don't
do something more sensible. Ask why the US doesn't seem to have any
influence on such critical issues and whether they will always be
the 'B' analysis, second to the Chinese. Ask what the middle detector
site buys them and about the necessity of digging kilometers of tunnels.
They plan on using a water shield for neutrons - ask about the logistics
of the 'water plugs' and transporting kilotonnes of water through the
tunnels to 4 different sites and then redoing this when they
their detectors. Couch some of this in a positive light: "In Braidwood,
we also have the advantage of not having to cross 10 time zones to have
conference calls or fly for 14 hours to attend a collaboration meeting.
We would actually have control over our experiment and help invigorate
science in the US for a change. And all for a price that's probably less
than what the US would spend on Daya Bay."
4) Contact newspapers, write articles, give interviews on how the US
to export its science, how all the big breakthroughs are happening in
other countries, how scientists in the US are getting disillusioned
and how some are leaving the field or leaving the country. How money is
being thrown to foreign countries when that very same money could
be invested in the declining US programme to produce world-class physics.
How recognised leaders in the field have actually been denied peer review.
If we cannot get $1M in seedcorn funding from DOE, try to scrape together
what we can to put together a decent proposal. We've got something like
~$150K plus workshop and design office time in the UK which could most
be redirected toward some of the more critical items. Perhaps some of the
US universities could kick in something in the way of seedcorn to try
to boost things to near half the request? Brookhaven is, in some sense,
already now funded to do the chemistry... could we do something with this?
It is true that, even after all this, Staffin could just say 'no.'
But the indefensible nature of this act would be clearly exposed and he
is obviously sufficiently uncomfortable with this that he is trying
to block peer review. We are known and respected members of the community
and if we continued to fight in a very visible manner, we could make
things a lot more uncomfortable.
OPTION B: Defining our terms
What would it take to make Daya Bay palatable to us?
Aside from the logistics of China and the fact that the site isn't ideal,
the main concern is the lack of control. Peter's experience from working
with these guys suggests it would be about as bad as it gets, with us
having little or no influence over detector design, operation or
analysis (sure, we'd have our own simulations etc., but it'd always
be the 'B' analysis which could be brushed aside without discussion).
We've alreadly witnessed one blood-letting over differences of
opinion (and, whatever it was, I'm sure Stuart was probably right).
The shot-gun nature of the 'collaboration' would only make things
worse, as there is no alternative and the Chinese don't have to pay
attention to anything we do or say. We'd need something to hold over
them to force a true collaborative effort. The plan is for multiple
detectors at each site. So, what we need is to have total control
over half of them: our design, our construction, our analysis.
This is, indeed, certainly in keeping with the idea of redundant
measurements etc. which is recognised as so important to the field
and it also makes a sensible division of East/West efforts in terms of
coordination. Of course, we don't have any stick to force this to
happen... but Staffin does. We could go to him with our concerns,
indicating why we think there's a high probability it would be a total
disaster, either in the form of yet more collaboration splits and
in-fighting and/or in the production of an anamolous, crap result.
We could even show him our alternative option 'A' which we're considering.
In order to settle things, he might agree to force the Chinese to
consent to this, threatening to not to fund Daya Bay and to put
Braidwood back on the agenda.
Well, that's my best shot. Personally, I really like 'option A,' but
then you're not catching me in the best of weeks...
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