Saturday, 20 November 2010

Stupid blogpost comment of the day

The Internet allows anyone with half a brain to make comments and pronouncements on topics that they have not the least knowledge of. This blog is, of course, a supreme example.

I allow most inane comments to wash over me, but some are hard to ignore. Today I was browsing a FlightGlobal article about the A380 engine failure. FlightGlobal blog posts are often worth reading as knowledgeable people comment, and the signal to noise ratio is quite high.

However, a comment by someone called Jen made me both furious and amused:
RR do not have the metallurgy expertise that GE or Pratt & Whitney Rockedyne have unless they steal the technology. Advanced metallurgy is an extremely important factor in modern turbofan engines.
Which shows that (s)/he is just a fan boy who knows little about the industry. The last sentence is, of course, true: metallurgy (and especially the weird mechanics of crystal growth in superalloys) is essential in modern engines design. The idea that Rolls Royce could not do it without stealing the technology is the bit that gets my goat. S/he offers no evidence, just wild accusations.

Materials science is one area of technology that we Brits are particularly good at. It requires both scientific and engineering prowess, and the presence in the country of Rolls Royce and others has allowed us to be competitive. We should not rest on our laurels, however: China, Russia and others have the capability and desire to overtake the West in this and other areas.

This is where blind patriotism such as Jen's is so dangerous. The mere idea that another country might be capable of making competitive technology to America is such an anathema that s/he has to accuse them of stealing it. After all, only American engineers can do this cool stuff, okay?

And whilst s/he is in this happy la-la land, other countries will continue to make progress. And if they do a good job and actually beat American technology, then it can only be because they stole it.

Putting your fingers in your ears and downplaying the competition is not a way to advance.

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