Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Do scientists hype results? All the time. Here is an example. The National Ignition Facility has been a disappointment in terms of achieving fusion and its funding is hanging in a balance. It is urgent for the scientists, engineers and technicians working on the mammoth laser facility to show progress. So, they did. They are saying that we're almost there, right on the cusp, inches from success. Don't cut our cash flow now. The lab is affected as everyone else by the government shut-down, and it is on the target for permanent cutbacks. Its people are literally fighting for their jobs, another year or two years of money so they can see the experiment through. Scientists are adept at publicizing themselves and their work, and they carry the credibility of experts. We should not be surprised that they crank the publicity machine along with everyone else, especially when their livelihoods are at stake.