First, I want to thank the Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research Program for the opportunity to make these contributions to the state of the art. Those of us who suffer from depression, and look as though we will never succeed at anything, are often denied such chances. If, as I have been given to believe, the SBIR program is regarded as something of an orphan, propped up by political mandate, then it is appropriate that scientific orphans can take advantage of it. The power of such a program is that it allows contributions from less orthodox viewpoints. And if it should ever fully shed its status as an orphan, it may well stand in danger of losing that power.
To an orphan, organized, official science often looks as though it strives to achieve the surface pride and perfection of a Japanese monoculture, with all that that implies. One day, as I was leaving the grad school building at Colorado State, I found two such visiting students stopped dead in front of a handicap-adapted door. There it was, braced with a thick, solid-looking bar and covered with inscrutable American words and pictograms. They didn't know what to make of it. Their culture rarely lets their handicapped out in public, much less makes accommodations for them. They have no Steven Hawkings to which they gladly admit.
A true seeker understands this - the math is here to be used and explored by anyone - even orphans. The math does not ask the pedigree and citations of those who use it. So long as it is used well, it cares not for collegial approval. While those of us on the margins may be neither as profoundly damaged nor as profoundly brilliant as Steven Hawking, we still do not deserve to be denied the chance to make what contributions we can.
Such has been done elsewhere, leaving even physical scars. This opportunity helps in some way to correct that. For those of us who have often been shoved aside, by others who deem themselves to be much more stable and more able,
-- Donald L. Baker, May 1998