Monthly Archives: June 2011

Some Such Scientists Are Among Us?

The scientist was in his laboratory experimenting with flies. He was interested in the reaction time of a fly responding to a sharp noise.

He placed a fly on the table, turned on his automatic test equipment that would start very precise timing the moment he clapped his hands, and was ready. He stood behind the fly, clapped his hands and the fly took off in about 0.1 seconds, one fourth of a human’s reaction time. He then tried different angles of his hands and other combinations for position and noise; still 0.1 seconds. He dutifully recorded his findings.

Next he pulled off a leg, then two legs, etc. and still the fly would take off as quickly.

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Memories No. 6: Do You Buy New or Used Cars?

That was the first question my new boss asked me. It was late summer of 1953 at the General Electric Jet Engine Plant in Evendale, Ohio just outside Cincinnati. I had arrived as an employee in early June 1953, hired to do controls analysis and design, the subject I had been teaching at Brooklyn Poly. So a few months after I arrived a few development groups were transferred to the new boss. He was to choose part of us to stay with him and part to form a more advanced work team. Welcome to big business – where you can count on change!

So who was this new boss who asked about used cars, and what was to be the goal of the re-organization?

The new boss was Gerhard Neumann, who later was to lead GE to become the largest jet engine manufacturer in the world. He is pictured below in the mid-nineties, not long before he died from leukemia in 1997.
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