I'm a closet Trekkie. While I don't travel the “Star Trek” convention circuit in hopes of breathing the same air as Spock or Kirk, I did meet Uhura at a hotel restaurant in Cleveland and I do stop channel surfing anytime a “Star Trek” episode or movie is on TV. I even own Leonard Nemoy's album with the song "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins," and I find William Shatner's rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man" inspired.
Aside from the quirkiness, the real reason I like “Star Trek” is because the characters travel through space surrounded by experts. The captain, if needing to know how to converse with the Romulans, simply asks the ship's linguistics engineer. If the ship must be rid of Tribbles, chief engineer Scotty knows exactly what to do.
Why have these leading authorities in their respecitve fields agreed to help you address your technical issues?
For many, it's a chance to give back to the chemical prcoessing community. For others, teaching is a part of their character.
For instance, I asked one of our more prolific experts, Dave Dickey, senior consultant, MixTech Inc., what he gains out of the experience.
"Perhaps a better sense of humor," says Dickey. "Some of the questions are so [confusing] that the answer can be difficult to phrase politely."
Dickey, based in Dayton, Ohio, focuses on mixing processes and equipment. He has 25 years of experience in the field, both as a consultant and with equipment suppliers. He gives a number of short courses related to mixing and has written numerous articles — many for Chemical Processing including one "Minimize Blending Time." He has also contributed to several handbooks.
To harvest the most-useful answers from our experts, it's best to supply detailed information. Generic questions will have generic answers.
"Sometimes I can guess the answer or generalize sufficiently to answer the question," notes Dickey. "Even if the information or description is incomplete, I try to give the best possible answer with sufficient disclaimers as to be accurate."
It's doubtful that being a Chemical Processing expert is as exciting as "boldly going where no man has gone before," but the challenge it presents to our experts helps them push the limits of their own minds.
"I look at some of the questions and find interesting my ability to answer most of them," says Dickey.
Apparently for Dickey, these questions are "no tribble at all."
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's Senior Digital Editor. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Live long, and prosper." -- Spock