Bad Name...
Not Another Caturday!

Fierce Feynman

Richard Feynman, the Challenger Disaster, and Software Engineering.

President Reagan created the Rogers Commission to investigate the [Space Shuttle Challenger] disaster. Physicist Feynman was invited as a member, but his independent intellect and direct methods were at odds with the commission's formal approach. Chairman Rogers, a politician, remarked that Feynman was "becoming a real pain." In the end the commission produced a report, but Feynman's rebellious opinions were kept out of it. When he threatened to take his name out of the report altogether, they agreed to include his thoughts as  Appendix F - Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle.

I've bookmarked it.

Link via Slashdot.


Saul Wall

I wonder how many Carter appointed folk had to be included. One of the things the recent Bush administration has taught me is that if you want to get anything done right in a democracy you need to have a good purge of bureaucracies as soon as you get in so as to avoid having the enemy running your universe. People see this as a negative thing but if one side gets to do it (the left) with impunity and the other does not there will always be a slant to one side of the political spectrum in government.


Very disappointing. Sloppiness and magical thinking. You have to have an independent quality department with teeth. 1 - What are the specifications? 2 - Are they sufficient and relevant? 3 - When the component fails, e.g., cracks unexpectedly, compare to the specs. Did it meet them? If yes, review the specs. If no, a - why didn't the quality department catch it, and b - why is the manufacturer providing off-spec material?

And apparently the software people were/are being pressured to abandon change control and fall prey to the same sloppiness.

This stuff is not rocket science. Clearly it should be. I am appalled.

Cafe Alpha

Did you ever see Feynman demonstrate why the O-rings failed? He dipped a piece of the rubber they used into his ice-water and showed that it became hard and brittle when cold. They had chosen a bad material.

I read his book. They weren't incompetent on the panel, they were political appointees and afraid for their careers. Not incompetence, corruption.

For a story about a panel that was both completely corrupt AND incompetent, read Feynman's chapter on how science text books were chosen for the state of California.

I remember being given one of those horrible textbooks, and feeling that my intelligence was being insulted even when I was 10. I was a very precocious child.

Isaac Schrödinger

"Did you ever see Feynman demonstrate why the O-rings failed?"

Yup. Others could've been told to 'tone it down' but not Feynman. He said it like it is.

I don't own his books. I borrowed and read them over eight years ago; I forget in which one he talked about the science textbooks from California.

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