March 2000

‘Science is a way of life for me’

Al Trivelpiece has been quoted or has written for the Lab’s employee newsletters on many occasions. Here are some excerpts from ORNL Reporter and its predecessor publication, Lab Notes:

March 1992: On his expectations in taking the director’s job: “Almost all of them were wrong. First, I assumed that my knowledge of theoretical and experimental physics would be of some use.”

April 1992: “Contrary to popular belief, the energy crisis hasn’t gone away. The problem of producing and using energy in economical, environmentally acceptable ways is still with us.”

November 1995: “An informed staff is an ingredient of a healthy institution. Staff members who support each other in spirit can produce amazing science.”

January 1996: “It’s a truism that if you write a proposal, somebody might not give you money, but if you don’t write a proposal, they are sure as heck not going to give you money.”

January 1996: “We need to have communities around us understand what we do, because if somebody asks them if they care if ORNL closes down and they say they have no idea what we do, we’re dead meat.”

May 1996: “I do not believe that such a focus on management performance (vs scientific excellence) was the proper way to operate this national laboratory, or any national laboratory.”

June 1996, Ethics: “We are in the knowledge business; knowledge that others must be able to trust, knowledge that future generations will depend on, and knowledge that lives will depend on. We have an obligation to ensure that the knowledge that we produce is correct.”

October 1996, On the Value of Time: “We need to respect the value of other people’s time. If I had to identify one thing that causes people to comment about the bad aspects of bureacracy, it is that the ‘system’ has contempt for the value of ‘my time.’”

March 1999: “The thing most interesting about this Laboratory is the incredible diversity in the things it does. . . . There’s not much in the world of science and technology that doesn’t go on somewhere in this Laboratory.”

March 1999: “Science is a way of life for me. I’ve made a living at it for over 40 years.”