RE: Options?

From: Steven Biller (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2006 - 15:08:08 CDT

  You know, Staffin say a lot of things and I've come to
realise that it's all just bullshit. He says things that
change with the wind and are contradictory. I have no
idea at all how much is real and how much is simply couched
to suit his own hidden agenda at the moment, though I suspect
it's mostly the latter. I have no idea what his agenda is and,
frankly, I have no idea if the man is even sain. Ed tells me
that the Daya Bay P5 presentation was, once again, pretty bad.
Also that Yifang Wang was asked directly if the Chinese
would still go ahead without US money, to which he said
"absolutely." So that actually seems to argue against
the political interpretation (and also speaks loads for
the influence any US collaborators are likely to have).
On the other hand, if this is all about money, why have
Double-Chooz been denied even travel funds, since that's peanuts
and would clearly be the cheapest option? If there was a
well-defined ceiling, like $20M, in terms of what has really
been available for a reactor theta13 experiment, why were we
never told we'd have to work to such a target? Are we to
believe that Staffin suddenly just happen to realise this
moments before the P5 meeting? Staffin first issues a statement
that puts a reactor theta13 as one of the top priorities,
then does everything he can to kill the best one so as to
support another with no plan and a troubled collaboration,
and now even threatens to kill that. We also have indications
that there are differences of opinion within DOE over what
Staffin is doing. The only thing that's certain is that we've
been treated appallingly, in a manner which should cause real
concern amongst everyone in the field. If we walk away now,
I don't think we'll ever know what's going on and it's very
likely to happen again. Perhaps it's the giddiness of preparing
for a new teaching term (or maybe the fact that we've got
to somehow break all this to PPARC very shortly and make
some plausible statements about what we're doing), but I'm
in a fightin' mood!

  So, I'd just like to say, in keeping with the well-established
precedent, if you US guys decide to go to war, then no matter
how boneheaded or unrealistic the reason is, you can count
on the british troops to back you up!


                                     - Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: Janet Conrad []
Sent: Wed 4/19/2006 4:25 PM
To: Hahn, Richard
Cc: Steven Biller; Braidwood Collaboration
Subject: Re: Options?
Also it may be relevant to know that Daya Bay is being asked to cut from
$30M to $20M.
And that apparently Robin Staffin has made the statement that there will
be less than or equal
to one reactor experiment supported by the United States. I find it
hard to believe he has
any intention of investing to make Daya Bay better.

Hahn, Richard wrote:

> A piece of news relevant to your note: Yesterday, the U.S. Daya Bay collaboration received a letter from OHEP , stating that it will receive R&D funding.
>From: Steve Biller []
>Sent: Wed 4/19/2006 7:50 AM
>To: Braidwood Collaboration
>Subject: Options?
> Braidwood colleagues,
> 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...
> - Steve

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