posted on Sep, 1 2012 @ 07:38 PM
The research facility in the middle of nowhere is more likely to be the exception to the rule. First of all, you need to recruit scientists to work in
the middle of nowhere. Then tend to live in cities, often near the university where they graduated. The remote lab has been done at less than a hand
full of facilities, often due to hazardous materials. Los Alamos and Mercury come to mind. In the case of Los Alamos, it became a company town, but
workers had their families out there. In the case of Mercury, you were essentially stationed there or took the bus. It is well noted that the rooms in
the Mercury "bachelors" quarters are small than the prison cells down the road. If you have done the drive from Vegas to Mercury, you will note the
quality of the highway deteriorates after you pass Mercury. The feds improved the road and eventually set up the bus service due to losing too many
scientists to traffic accidents.
A lab needs supplies, maintenance, and calibration. There is a certain amount of commercial infrastructure you need to run a lab. Now this isn't to
say you can't fly all the supplies in, or set up your own calibration lab, but all this adds cost to the facility. If the secret is what is in the
lab rather than the lab itself, it is far cheaper just to set up shop in some town and use security to keep your secrets secret. Many Silicon Valley
start ups never even have a sign on the door. Until you have a product to sell, all you have is a design lab, and that isn't open to the public.
The Lockheed Skunkworks is the prototype model that works best for secret projects. It is used all the time in commercial industry. The iphone was
design in the "purple" lab. Of course, for something like a smartphone, you don't need that much infrastructure, just privacy.
I've posted the story before, but it is worth repeating. When Varian invented the ion implanter, they set up a skunkworks in Sunnyvale Ca. Now the
way an ion implanter works requires strong magnetic fields. The prototype machine wasn't shielded very well. The machine produced magnetic fields
strong enough to deflect the electron beams in the TVs of nearby houses. So much for secrecy.
I had a contract once where I was given an address and a floor number of a midrise building (5 or 6 stories). I got off the elevator and found the
project used the entire floor. No hallway, no walls, just an empty shell. It was optics related, and they needed the open space. It was skunkworks for
a company designing a laser measurement system.
The rented building in a city is far more likely to be the secret research facility than the lab in the middle of nowhere. This presumes you don't
space for your project (i.e. room to fly the plane), or something similar. Lawrence Livermore National Labs is just a campus in the town of Livermore
.Livermore was a company town at one time, but nowadays the lab doesn't really dominant the town.