A great lady whom I will ever admire, has stated a sad and merciless truth: “ Old age is no place for sissies”(Bette Davis)
It is a nice exercise to translate ‘sissies’ in more languages, but anyway it is about weak people. On the contrary, it is not nice at all to state in practice how painfully real is this sentence. OK, we all have to learn to ignore with some elegance the inconvenient things; LENR is no exception especially if we have pet ideas, personal theories and recurrent slogan-memes.
Bette Davis is right and many other things are no place for sissies; an example is technology, creating new revolutionary technologies.
Today I want to tell you about a special area of technology, not simple, not easy to define, describe and to do; full of contradictions and with some moral implications. My original expertise is in chemical industry- seemingly is not the best place for using reverse engineering. Taking a simple product as ethanol or dioctylphtalate, usually quality = purity and even the most advanced analytical instrumental methods cannot reveal how it was manufactured. Except perhaps some significant trace impurities. However, it happens I have worked with a product having a really complex morphology and structure. I can say today suspension PVC was for me what mathematics was for Yiannis Hadjichristos- a long tough school of complexity.
I remember well when I have spoken for the first time about the concept of reverse engineering.
A sympathetic and agile radio reporter from radio
Mr. Tantaru (Mosquito in Romanian) has
discovered that the research lab of OLTCHIM that I was leading, could be a
source of news- and has made a habit to visit us each Sunday morning and make
interviews with me- about global and, local technological progress. He was a
real mosquito, coming early and asking much.
Once I told him about the necessity of total documentation-information something I have discovered independently from the then popular idea of total football (soccer).
Mosquito: So you consider that if somebody works for the technology of PVC he has to read and learn everything it was
published about the technology of PVC?
Gluck: If you are a serious professional, this is actually a minimum. It is just the tip of the iceberg- read all papers and all patents and all available technical leaflets and even advertisements. You can learn much about how to manufacture the product from these, however the real truth- why to do what you do, why NOT to do some things…this deep truth is at the people and hidden in the products. You have to communicate with the people and to analyze the best products from the market.
Such statements were not in accordance with the politics of the communist Party claiming we are more advanced than the moribund capitalism; I could tell everything non-political at that radio from the simplest reason- it was obvious that it has exactly zero audience, nobody was interested to listen it. It was an exercise of rhetoric and an illusion of some freedom. Paradox. However PVC-S being a strategic product and its market competitivity essential, I was allowed to communicate with colleagues, to ask papers and conference reports, and even samples of products. Surely everything I wrote was supervised and censored by some incompetent people but the laziness of the censors and the laissez faire spirit were my most powerful allies- I dare to say I was very well informed. I have lead an extended program of analyzing and characterization of many (around 100) samples of leading high quality PVC assortments, from many companies. Kind of multiple parallel sui generis reverse engineering. Take a sample, analyze it
by a dozen of specific analytical methods, combine the results with what you know from the patents and the papers of the experts working at that company, try to determine correlations, compare, think and think again. Apply the scientific method, directly or in steps, more or less primitively and continue to work for a few years incessantly with almost unlimited patience.
Process or harmonize contradictory data, manage surprises, swallow series of failures, enjoy complexity and make the conclusions understandable for your collaborators. Apply them creatively in practice. Is this a job for technological sissies? How can be judged such a program in the light of professional ethics?
Is it just an extension of documentation, a special method of gathering vital information? Or is it an incipient form of industrial
espionage? You are not cheating anybody, not stealing intellectual property, it is very hard work.
It is known that the really good salesman knows the products of the competition better than his own. The competition is free to take your product and analyze it at will. Patents protecting a product have to be respected; patents protecting a process are vulnerable anyway. I think that reverse engineering is an exam for the expert
and an implicit threat for every manufacturer.
However industrial espionage is a dirty affair and I want to illustrate this with a spectacular case: that of the hyper fuel MG- microencapsulated gasoline. For more than 30 years tens of the best companies of the world have failed to make an usable product and were not able to build an engine working with it- decently. The idea of MG seemed to be a complete failure when a Romanian
Company Energie Arcal Uinoe – (Noah’s Ark Energies, NAE) has solved the problem and has presented prototypes of working MG machines Due to the too strict Romanian tax laws and to overwhelming bureaucracy, NAE has moved to
Alaska. Quite recently the CTO
of NAE, Ioan Santulescu has made a demo of half a day duration at the Iceland
branch at Reykjavik of the company
showing how well the MG generator works. Unfortunately the Icelandic Officer,
of the company, Loftur Gretson has tried to steal and to send to the US
competition, LEDOM Theorcomp, a few grams of NAE’s proprietary
microencapsulated gasoline. It is not easy to cheat smart Romanians they have
guessed this evil plan and have replaced the good product with an inactive one,
with no traces of gasoline in it, so our Icelandic guy proved that industrial
espionage is not for sissies, too.
However he made a lot of trouble and eventually the Icelandic branch of NAE has frozen; nothing to wonder in that cold climate. But do not worry, Romanians are inborn problem solvers and Ioan Santulescu is a great one, everything will be OK.