31 Aug 2005 company   » (Master)

When NASA was trying to go to the moon, there was a great deal of enthusiasm: it was a goal everyone was anxious to achieve. They didn't know if theys could do it, but they were all working together.

I have this idea because I worked at Los Alamos, and I experienced the tension and the pressure of everybody working together to make the atomic bomb. When somebody's having a problem - say, with the detonator - everybody knows that it's a big problem, they're thinking of ways to beat it, they're making suggestions, and when they hear about the solution they're excited, because that means their work is now useful: if the detonator didn't work, the bomb wouldn't work.

I figured the same thing had gone on at NASA in the early days: if the space suit didn't work, they couldn't go to the moon. So everybody's interested in everybody else's problems.

But then, when the moon project was over, NASA had all these people together: there's a big organization in Houston and a big organization in Huntsville, not to mention at Kennedy, in Florida. You don't want to fire people and send them out in the street when you're done with a big project, so the problem is, what to do?

Richard P. Feynman, What do you care what other people think?, p.214f., WW Norton & Company 1988, ISBN 0-393-02659-0

s/NASA/Gnome/
s/moon project/Gnome 2.0/
s/Houston/Utah/
...

I'll leave it as an excercise to the reader to figure out if NASA has gone uphill or downhill since reaching the moon.
The whole book this quote is from was an interesting read for me, especially with the parrallels between how NASA and Gnome evolve. And this quote sums it up best.

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