Double Poke in the Eye 2, Bruce Nauman, 1985

Double Poke in the Eye 2, Bruce Nauman, 1985

I’m not blogging about the game Planarity. I’m sure that it is a fine game and all that, but it is not the subject of this post. If you were expecting something of that bent, I’m sorry. I’m also not going to be talking about national politics in this post, although that was the original thought behind taking this picture. I don’t think that there is anything that I can add to the current debate that would be meaningful. I’m sure that I could find at least half of my readers that would agree with me on this. 😉

No, this post is about work, the proverbial third rail for us bloggers. I’m not trying to get electrocuted. I just want to see things laid flat. I want to see on a two-dimensional graph two lines that coincide, one of them mine, one other.

There is a saying in my field that is full of wisdom, “No one believes the predictions, except for the person who made them and everyone believes the measurements, except for the person who made them.” This saying embodies the prejudice in my field of the relative value placed upon computational analysis versus physical measurement. It is a prejudice that I have faced since my inception at this job.

Twenty-some years ago, when I began this line of work, there was much merit to this aphorism. Back then the codes and more particularly the machines that ran them were infantile compared to today’s capability. Back then measurements were king! Time though has not been kind to the king, while the usurper has flourished. Time has made testing increasingly expensive, prohibitively so in many cases. Codes meanwhile have benefited from Moore’s Law. While really more of an observation than a law, it has effectively piloted predictions to their current apogee. The supporting improvements in pre- and post-processing tools further streamline the analysis process. Meanwhile testing languishes. It was always more expensive, now its increasing costs are further hamstringing it.

In the typical project cycle, predictions always came first. People always paid them mind, up until the first test data was available. Then their only concern was, “Why are your predictions wrong?” Playing second fiddle is hard, because as often as not the first chair is not any better than you, but still they are first chair. I think that the tipping point has arrived, where the worm turns and the usurper rises. The king is dead, long live the king!

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