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A Reminder from the Past about the Long March of Innovation

Viewed 379 times 2017-8-7 01:04 |System category:Life| Innovation, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Chicago, Red

A few weeks ago, the editors at the China Daily asked if I could quickly type up an article about China’s ability to innovate.  They touched on items such as e-commerce, mobile payments, artificial intelligence, and so on – and were hoping I could comment on my opinion on how China will advance as the 21st Century moves on.  However, at the time I was in the middle of getting some very complicated designs completed at my place for the project that I am working on, and that I would comment as soon as I could.  While the staff was disappointed, they did not press too further on the topic.  It has been pretty much an ‘open secret’ that the project that I work on, the LBNF (Long Based Neutrino Facility)/DUNE (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment) has reached a critical moment, now that the groundbreaking ceremony in Lead, South Dakota has occurred (http://news.fnal.gov/2017/07/construction-begins-international-mega-science-experiment-understand-neutrinos/). 

 

For those that are curious what this experiment is going to do, in the most basic terms Fermilab will produce a steam of Neutrinos that will be aimed through the Earth’s crust towards a detector that will sit in a tank of Liquid Argon that will be as high as a 5 story building, buried 4850 Feet (~1478 Meters) below the hills of South Dakota.  That stream of Neutrinos will created by using a particle accelerator to direct between 750 kW to 4 MW of power at a target.  Suffice to say, this target has to be engineered with the utmost degree of safety for the folks at Fermilab, but the surrounding neighbors ‘downstream’ of the target.  For those neighbors, much like the general population in the Chicagoland area, it is very much an ‘open secret’ of the consequences of the early days of experiments with ‘Atomic Power’.

 

I am of course referring to one of the more unique features to the City of Chicago and the surrounding tri-counties (Cook, DuPage, and Will) – the massive forest preserves.  100s of square kM prime real estate that was left to become a series wooded areas and rough/semi-rough trails since the late 1950s.  While there have been more than a few debates about how to renovate neighborhoods or what public positions need to be eliminated, there has been zero discussion about selling the preserves to make up costs, or trimming the police force that specifically assigned to patrol these areas.  Then again, when one visits these areas, and sees markers like the ones that sits on Plot M and Site A in Red Gate Woods, near Argonne National Laboratory, it is much easier to understand why folks do not want to advertise that before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and  Fukushima – there was Chicago. 

 

Make no mistake, China’s attempts at innovation is going to be its 21st Century Long March.  For what is it is worth, as one that lives in the shadow of a country’s previous campaign, and is engaged with another, please take care to remember what mistakes are made, and what was done to correct them.  Given the lack of viable inhabitable spaces in China, legacies like Plot M/Site A need to be kept at a minimum – regardless of what technological innovations are developed.

Tombstone Marker at Plot M in Red Gate Woods

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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