Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can do!


I watched Apollo 13 for the Nth time yesterday. There's a lot to like in that movie. Good script, great acting, memorable characters, etc. Also the original story is highly appealing. I think the movie manages to capture it quite nicely, but it's still quite impossible for us common people to really understand what happened during that mission. The amazing feats the astronauts and the mission control managed to conjure under the crisis go beyond imagination.

One of the most remarkable things was the spacecraft. The product that was designed to successfully transport three people to the moon and back, and that could do so much more. It inspired me to think, write this post and tweet too... :)

Apollo program spacecraft was an insanely complex product. It consisted of endless amount of moving parts, highly advanced integrations, precise processes, delicate components, you name it. The smartest people in the world designed and tested it, and the most capable people in the world operated it.

All irrelevant regarding to what really happened.

The spacecraft was still a tool that needed to be used differently when situation changed. Instead of leaning to what it was designed to do these capable people managed to find out what it CAN do and created one of the greatest survival stories of all time.

Watch this great scene from the movie. :)

Via this lesson we can formulate a very valuable information objective; When testing, try to find out what the product CAN do. Search the limits of its use, go beyond them and see what happens. You might find bad things or undiscovered potential. You might find out that the program allows too much variation in inputs or you might find out that it performs well under stress, way beyond specified. Et cetera. All valuable information.

I'm not saying that you should try to find out everything, but don't let the specified limit your imagination. Elisabeth Hendrickson's book Explore It! has this wonderful game, The Nightmare Headline Game, that you should try out. To some extent it helps to plan for the unexpected. Then again I wonder if any game or approach would've helped the good people of NASA to pinpoint the problem beforehand that crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft... ;)

Quote time! Can you imagine what a product would do if it could do all it can?

"Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" -Sun Tzu

Your truly,


1 comment:

  1. Yes you are right and thank a lot for sharing this wonderful and science related information through this blog as I will keep looking for others.