Retired Aerospace Systems Engineer and Physicist (Ph.D, Physics MIT 1965.) HaShem Enthusiast, Gardener, Photographer. My career in sensor system engineering benefited through simulation and modeling using computers to perform design studies, system performance analysis, data assessment, and risk assessment. As the saying goes, "when a "well known physicist says something cannot be done it will be accomplished within a year."
Early in my career, while at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, which is physically in the next town, Lexington (;-). I worked with ARPA's Jason Committee. Exposure to such fine minds was quite beneficial. Members were Nobel Prize winning physicists. Next, I was fortunate to work at The Avco Everett Research Lab, in Everett (;-) AERL knew what town they were in! Our work was reviewed by Professor Hans Bethe of Cornell University, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for analyzing the Carbon Cycle in the Sun. Other very important influences on my approach to analyzing problems were my High School teachers: Mr. Seltzer, Mr. Eisenberg, Mr. Martino, and Dr. Ranucci. An equally important influence was Professor Larry Spruch at The Physics Department of NYU's Washington Square College, where I was an undergraduate. He taught me how to estimate things. His thesis was that a physicist should be able to estimate anything (not limited to physics problems) to within plus or minus an order of magnitude. That's a pretty wide spread. Once you practice, you can work those limits down considerably. It's much easier today with the advent and growth of ARPA's Internet.
I have a new discovery... When financial or rather banking or economic gurus ALL say that something in their area of expertise can not be estimated, it will take (a physicist/systems engineer) less than a month. (Is it because the bankers/ financial miscreants do not know how, or they don't want you to know what they know? It makes you wonder...) Of one thing I am convinced, they do not understand how to use their risk management tools. The bankers have no understanding as to when the results they are getting with their risk managment tools are meaningful, when they are misleading at best, and when they are totally wrong...
The next thing I learned is that the purchasers of financial "products" do not spend significant time with, or even visit the manufacturing line, to see how the "product" is being put together and packaged. To understand the quality of the widget, you need to see the process. Strange they would not have done so. They relied on rating agencies, who also did not visit the issuing process of a mortgage they would actually buy - some for resale, and some to keep - because they were so profitable, in the short term, to service. This lead to such large bonuses that it warped their judgment.
If you analyze the sensor data from a data gathering mission with a sensor mounted on an aircraft, the first person you talk to should be the pilot, then the operators, then the design hardware and software engineers... Is a pattern emerging?
I recommend that the current crop of economics advisors to President Obama study Norm Augustine's laws. They need to learn how to analyze complex systems. They need to study systems engineering and develop alertness and common sense. This is the crop that has not demonstrated any of the necessary skills, and they want to keep their banker buddies on the job using pay raises and bonuses to induce them to remain. Why? You did ask, right? Beats me.
I now understand how to turn around the current recession in a clear, relatively inexpensive way. It should take six months to a year. I will be happy to do it for free if I can dole out the funds, and keep what's left over of the roughly $1.5 trillion already allocated for the financial and economic equivalent of remedial reading. Those funds won't generate any sustainable jobs. The word "sustainable" is very important. No one will deny that. I have not seen anyone else say they know how to do it. Am I an ego maniac? I doubt it. Any reasonably bright four year old could figure it out. Such a person has not been trapped into the demonstrably incorrect assumption set, outmoded ideologies, and failure laden modes of thought of the members of the President's council of economic advisors...