Decision time

Tonight the mentors and funders had to make the big decision – what projects go forward for funding, what doesn’t make the cut. It’s uncomfortable – all the more so because the process is so much more public than the usual anonymous peer review. But what’s important is that we’ve got tremendously exciting projects to look forward to, which we really don’t think would have been arrived at any other way. We were looking for a grand vision – real ambition, of a kind that scientists are sometimes reluctant to commit to. But we needed to be sure that, on the very first day of the project, it was clear exactly what the newly starting scientists on the project would do. And, while it’s obvious that for a sufficiently big vision, one can’t expect the route from here to there to be fully mapped out at the outset, we need to be sure that there are no obviously unbridgeable chasms in the way. We know, and the funders know too, that there is a significant risk of failure, but that’s as it has to be.

Now we’re in a tidying up phase; working on the details and doing the necessary, if less exciting, work of finalising the costings and tightening up the project management arrangements. Tomorrow I may be able to give some more details of what the outcome has been; for the moment I’ll say simply that, on the experimental side, we have two different approaches, each highly multidisciplinary, whose outcome is planned to be the software-directed deterministic synthesis of covalently bonded, functional nanoscale objects.

Richard Jones


1 Response to “Decision time”

  1. 1 Martin G. Smith January 11, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I am reminded of a ‘Tag’ which appeared on a wall in a place long forgotten, but never lost from my mind – ‘We tunnel through adversity and build bridges to the future.’ It was a beginning of what was to become the guiding principle for everything I then accomplished.
    But that was about Me, and that id not what we are hear to talk about. There is a process, professed, again many years ago by a great man, the Late Robert Altman – he described his process as a Vacuum, defined as ‘That space in time between the beginnings of an idea and the ‘AHA’ at the end, with everything your need to get there drawn to the middle’.
    We have seen on these pages that growth and a bit of the angst that has gone into this Sandbox. Too often today, we try to compress time to the point where compromises diminish the result of the work we do. I could be wrong, but I do not see this as happening here. Which ever project get the nod in the end, it remains my fervent hope that the receivers will take advantage of the massive brain trust available by simply putting a signpost out on the Highway of Light. From this ‘Vacuum’, you jump into a new one, know you are not alone.

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