Have you ever participated in an Open Source or Shared Source project? I have and I know why I did so. Why did you?

In college, I took a course on non-Euclidean geometry. My professor was a numbers theorist who worked at the NSA before entering into academia. He once told a story about a situation in which a group of Russian physicists slipped a mathematical model of a neutron star past their Soviet censors in order to share it with their colleagues overseas (mostly concentrated in Los Alamos, NM). The interesting thing was that their simulation was a description of a previously unknown thermonuclear reaction; a blueprint for an entirely new kind of bomb. What force could compel a person to forsake the national security needs of their own country in such a way? Fear? Academic fame? A sense of transcendent, supranational brotherhood? Is the transparency ethic of the scientific community similar to the "openness" of the open source community? If so, how far does it go?

Is the Open Source movement a supranational or a supracorporate community-driven phenomenon?

[The Holocaust Bomb: A Question of Time"But the Manhattan Project was dominated by well-established scientists who, before the war, had been part of an ethical system that abhors secrecy. It was, and is, a supranational community of investigators who believe that certain kinds of universal truth can be found in the natural world, and when found they must be shared. As soon as possible, they insisted on telling the world the A-bomb secret, treating the whole thing as a scientific discovery. They then went back to their civilian lives, some more concerned than others about the implications of their nuclear experiment. The physics community was thus split into two groups: those who left and those who stayed.

The ones who stayed at Los Alamos to build a nuclear arsenal effectively retired from science and became engineers. Their future output would be widgets rather than published papers; inventions rather than discoveries."


"Nuclear secrecy was first introduced by the scientists themselves, before any government became involved. When German scientists discovered fission in 1939 and announced it to the scientific world, physicists outside of Germany wanted to avoid making helpful contributions to a Nazi A-bomb. They obviously could not keep the mere fact of fission secret from its own discoverers, but by withholding further discoveries from publication they sought to deny Hitler's scientists the benefit of international assistance in working out the details."