Robert Stadler, Ph. D. (1964-2020), in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, was a brilliant physicist, and was professor and chairman of the Department of Physics at the Patrick Henry University. Then he effectively sold his soul for government grants, by endorsing, and then accepting the directorship of, the State Science Institute. Sadly for him, he would discover that he was a mere figurehead, and that the State Science Institute was actually in the hands of a fellow scientist who had planned for a long time to pervert the use of science in the search for political power. He ended up striving for physical control of a weapon of mass destruction and dying in agony.
Robert Stadler seems to have received a typical college education in physics. He probably did so under an accelerated program: early admission to college, and "acceleration credits" granted to him by virtue of his scores on entrance and advanced-placement examinations. (The Advanced Placement Examination program of the College Entrance Examination Board would be applicable today.) But along the way, he never developed any social skills. He would later say that he had "no talent or taste for dealing with people." To put the matter bluntly, he was a "nerd," and developed a desire to isolate himself from his fellow human beings. He would take this desire to an unhealthy, and philosophically unsound, extreme.
In 1991, Stadler published a paper on the nature of cosmic rays that turned every other theory about them on its head. This won for him, three years later, recognition as the foremost theoretical physicist of that era. In 1996, at the age of thirty-two, he became Professor and Chairman of Physics at the Patrick Henry University (not to be confused with the real-life Patrick Henry College), which was located in Cleveland, Ohio. He would hold that position for eight years. And in a sense that he never understood, his fame went to his head. He convinced himself that he was entitled to his fame, and to the adulation that the public lavished on him.
Hugh Akston would later show that he understood this much about Robert Stadler's character:
|“||He never identified his proper homeland. He hated stupidity. It was the only emotion I had ever seen him display toward people—a bitting, bitter, weary hatred for any ineptitude that dared oppose him. He wanted his own way, he wanted to be left alone to pursue it, he wanted to brush people out of his path—and he never identified the means to it or the nature of his path or of his enemies.||”|
Or perhaps he did. Hugh Akston never understood that Robert Stadler's hatred was an unfocused resentment against everyone around him.
In the year that he assumed his Chairmanship, he had three extraordinary students who he was never to forget. First, the three came to him when they were sixteen years old. Second, they majored in physics and in philosophy, a demanding double major and a highly unusual choice.
As the three students explained it to him (and to Hugh Akston, chairman of the philosophy department), physics was the study of the natural world (from the Greek physis, literally "nature"), and philosophy was the proper study of how to approach that world. The three would very often spend hours at a time, after teaching hours, with Dr. Stadler and/or Dr. Akston, discussing some arcane point of their respective disciplines.
It was the most rewarding experience that Robert Stadler ever knew. He would later describe these three as "the kind of reward a teacher prays for."
The peculiar educational choices that these three made necessarily compelled Stadler to collaborate with Akston to devise a curriculum that those three could reasonably follow, and to seek from the school's senior dean certain required-credit waivers. Had Stadler taken the time to have his own close conversations with Hugh Akston, he might have come to understand how necessary was the choice that those three students made. Perhaps then he would have gained insight into his own attitudes, and come to embrace the trading principle that John Galt, especially, understood almost instinctively. He might have understood why three young men of such disparate backgrounds could form the most steadfast friendship on the entire campus. (Ragnar Danneskjöld was a Norwegian aristocrat, Francisco d'Anconia was the heir to a great business empire, and John Galt literally ran away from home.) If he had learned from them the valuable lesson that they might have been able to teach him, his own history would have been vastly different. He would never have suggested the establishment of a State Science Institute. And even if he could not advocate effectively for human freedom, when such advocacy might have been most important, he probably would have joined John Galt's great strike. And the country would never have seen anything as dreadful as Project X.
But Robert Stadler did none of these things. What he did instead, sent the country further along the path to tyranny, and himself on a path toward utter destruction.
The State Science Institute
When those extraordinary three students graduated, they at first went their separate ways. Francisco d'Anconia was in a hurry to advance as an executive of D'Anconia Copper SA. (In fact, he had bought a copper foundry in Cleveland after working his way through college at that foundry for four years.) Ragnar stayed on at PHU, as a graduate student under Hugh Akston's tutelage; he intended then to succeed Akston as Chairman of the Philosophy Department. John Galt decided to become an inventor, and began his graduate studies in physics under Stadler.
But outside PHU, a profound change had come over the United States, a change that Stadler watched, but his students did not. A runaway Constitutional convention replaced the United States Congress with a unicameral Legislature. That Legislature now began its debate on the establishment of a government-funded institute dedicated to the sciences.
In 2004, Dr. Stadler, now at age 40, saw this as a unique opportunity. Like virtually anyone working in "pure" or "abstract" science (as distinct from engineering, often called "applied" science), Dr. Stadler always felt limited in the amount of private grant moneys that he could attract. A stable source of grant money definitely had its appeal. But more than that, Stadler saw his chance to achieve that which he never admitted to himself that he wanted: a temple to himself. (See below.) The Chairmanship in Physics at Patrick Henry University was not enough, and never was.
Furthermore, an institution devoted to the pure sciences seemed to Stadler the most noble possible use of public money. But what drove Stadler even more than this consideration was his confirmed opinion that the "pure" sciences were "pure" precisely because they had no immediate commercial application. Engineering was "dirty" and mundane. More than that, engineers had to deal with people—and Robert Stadler hated people. To him, only himself, or members of his staff, were "real."
John Galt was appalled. When Stadler endorsed the establishment of the future Institute, John Galt criticized him severely, and indicated that their friendship, and his graduate studies, were at an end. Galt's criticism was twofold: that the science/engineering dichotomy was false anyway, and that scientific research was not a proper function of government.
Stadler was devastated at losing John Galt's friendship. (If Francisco d'Anconia or Ragnar Danneskjöld said anything to him on the subject, they never discussed that with any other character, including Hugh Akston.) But then again, Stadler never understood any of his three students half as well as he thought he did. In them, he saw himself at their ages. But those three did not share his rage and hostility against the world, nor his monumental contempt for humanity. He thought he had found three acolytes for what he really sought to establish: a cult of hero worship with himself as the focus. Those three were never interested in that, nor did they even conceive of such a thing, much less that this was Robert Stadler's driving motive.
Hugh Akston never conceived it, either. Stadler caught sight of him in the hallway, as he followed John Galt out of his office after their last acrimonious exchange. Stadler blurted out,
|“||I'm so sick of you impractical idealists!||”|
The proof of Robert Stadler's motive and desire takes the form of the headquarters of the State Science Institute. An isolated structure, with white marble Greek-revival-style elevations, on a campus laid out as a park, with the rooftops of Lyme, New Hampshire visible at a distance—such was the Temple of Robert Stadler. Inside was the very modest office that Stadler kept: a window overlooking the Connecticut River, a single desk of very cheap wood, a filing cabinet, two barely comfortable chairs, and a chalkboard. Such was his monk's cell, and even Dagny Taggart, when she visited him, never understood its real meaning.
Stadler follows his three students
Robert Stadler would claim vindication of his opinion of humanity, after hearing what (as he thought) became of two of his former students. Francisco d'Anconia became, to all appearances, a playboy and a subject of gossip, chiefly about how many women he was intimate with. (He would have been surprised to learn that Francisco never was actually intimate with more than one woman in his entire life.) Ragnar Danneskjöld became the notorious pirate who seized government relief cargoes bound for foreign countries. John Galt vanished completely, and now was the subject of a repeated question by laypeople: "Who is John Galt?"
Robert Stadler never admitted to anyone that he could tell them who John Galt really was. If he connected the first instances of the repetition of that question with the accelerated breakdown of the American economy, he never told anyone. He once told Dagny Taggart, when she came to see him, that he suspected that his third student (whose name he did not mention) might have become a "second assistant bookkeeper." And on another occasion, he said that he once knew a John Galt, but that person was dead. Never once did he admit to Dagny Taggart or anyone else that those two were one and the same.
But of course, Robert Stadler knew better. But he would not have hard evidence that John Galt was anything more than a student who had called him a traitor to his own intellectual capacity until many years later.
The Rearden Metal Incident
When in 2016 Henry Rearden introduced his new Metal, an alloy of iron, copper, and carbon (which he did not call "steel"), his opponents (chiefly Orren Boyle of the Associated Steel Company) sowed fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the utility of the metal. The State Science Institute tested the metal and then issued an unfavorable, or at least an inconclusive, report on it. Robert Stadler added his signature to it, at the urging of his associate director and co-ordinator, Floyd Ferris.
Dagny Taggart then came to see him and tried to persuade him to reopen the investigation. He was forced to admit that they had never seen a metal so strong, lightweight, and easy to work as Rearden Metal, but refused to reopen the investigation. (Perhaps he knew even then that he could never have done so even if he had so desired.) This was the occasion in which he told Dagny Taggart about his three prize students and what had happened to them. In fact, he blamed the destinies (as he incorrectly understood them) of Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld for his disillusionment.
He would, however, hear from Dagny Taggart once more. She called him and asked his help in trying to understand, and reconstruct, what apparently was a prototype of an electrostatic motor. Stadler was amazed that anyone could have invented such a thing, and indicated that such an inventor belonged in "pure science," not building motors, electrostatic or otherwise. Nevertheless, when Miss Taggart ask for his recommendation of an engineer who might be competent to reconstruct the prototype, he made one. He gave her the name of Quentin Daniels and his contact information.
He would not hear from Dagny Taggart again, nor see her, until the late fall of 2019, the last full year of the strike.
Two incidents connected with his job at the State Science Institute, occurring following the collapse of the economy of Colorado, made him realize that his post as Director was a sick joke. Though he had a budget for virtually any line of experimentation he wished to pursue, and was nominally in charge of the Institute's budget, he discovered that at least one project was unaccountable to him and even hidden from him, in the sense that he never once saw an itemized statement from the officer(s) in charge of that project or even any statement of what the project was about. That project was Project X. When he later asked Floyd Ferris about it, Ferris was evasive. Ferris said only that the letter X stood for Xylophone and that the project had to do with sound.
Worse than that incident was Floyd Ferris' publication in May 2018, through the State Science Institute Press, of a book of practical philosophy titled Why Do You Think You Think? In it, Ferris urged his readers to forget any notion that they were actually capable of independent thought, and learn to accept the pronouncements of those superior to them in their understanding of the physical or political world.
Stadler was appalled. Critical thinking is a necessary faculty in any scientist, a principle that Stadler had lived by at PHU and never thought to see questioned, much less directly contradicted. As he later said indignantly to Ferris, he would sooner have expected to see such a book written by "a drunken lout" than by "a man of science," and worse yet, under the imprimatur of the State Science Institute.
But when Stadler threatened to withdraw the book from circulation and disavow any connection with the official opinion of the Institute, Floyd Ferris quite calmly told Stadler that he was in no position to do any such thing. In brutal fact, Ferris had always been the political animal, and the liaison between the Institute and the Executive Office of the President, where the Institute's funding came from. Stadler, in contrast, had no friends either in the Thompson administration or on Capitol Hill.
Stadler could, therefore, do no more than accept his role as a mere figurehead. His filing of his copy of Ferris' work in the "circular file" was, at best, a petulant gesture, and he knew it even as he made it.
Project X demonstrated
On June 29, 2019 (the last year of the strike of the men of the mind), Dr. Stadler found himself in Dunkertown (now renamed Harmony City), Iowa, ostensibly to attend a demonstration. But he had not even been told what would be demonstrated. His first clue came when a reporter asked him about his role in the recently completed "Project X." Immediately Stadler rushed to Floyd Ferris' side and demanded to know what Project X was all about. Ferris replied cryptically that he would find out soon enough.
And find out he did. Mr. Thompson, the Head of State, was also at the demonstration, as were several other senior Administration officials and Members of the Legislature. They made the first speeches, and announced the completion of a new device that they called the "Thompson Harmonizer," named after their Head.
Then came the moment of the demonstration. As one of the officials worked several levers on a small console, Stadler watched in horror as a tethered goat, a wooden shack, and a section of railroad trestle all were knocked flat to the ground, seemingly without being touched. This was the effect of the Harmonizer, or the Xylophone as it was also called: it used ultrasonic beams to weaken or even pulverize any object at which they were directed.
Stadler asked Ferris, "Who invented that ghastly thing?"
And Ferris answered, "You did." Ferris then explained: Project X had grown out of Robert Stadler's own pioneering work on the physics of cosmic rays, and on the "spatial transmission of energy." (This could be a reference to quantum optics.) Then, before Stadler could protest further, Ferris handed him a speech to make to the millions of people listening on the radio.
As Stadler approached the microphone, listening to speech after speech making eerily absurd claims of how "good" and "friendly" the Xylophone would prove to be to humanity, a reporter called upon Stadler to denounce the project and tell the truth about it in order to save the country from becoming a dictatorship. Stadler shook the man away, and Ferris demanded the reporter's press credentials and work permit. Then Stadler began his speech:
|“||I am proud that my years of work in the service of science have brought me the honor of placing into the hands of our great leader, Mr. Thompson, a new instrument with an incalculable potential for a civilizing and liberating influence upon the mind of man.||”|
John Galt makes a speech
On November 22, 2019, Robert Stadler found himself at Madison Square Garden to attend a live broadcast, on radio and television, of a speech to the nation that Mr. Thompson had scheduled. But at five minutes to the scheduled airtime (8:00 p.m.), the technicians announced that all the radio and television stations were jammed. Mr. Thompson and several other officials started threatening mass firings if the problem was not corrected, all to no avail. Then, abruptly, a man's voice began to speak:
|“||Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Thompson will not speak to you tonight. His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is exactly what you are going to hear. For twelve years you have been asking, "Who is John Galt." This is John Galt speaking...||”|
Robert Stadler gasped in horror as he recognized that voice: it was the voice of his third student. And even if Stadler had not been able to make the instant intuitive leap of realization that this same John Galt was responsible for the disappearances of men of the mind, and the overall breakdown of the national economy, John Galt fairly boasted of playing exactly that role, and gave his reasons for so acting, for the next three hours. He also boasted that he had invented an electrostatic motor, and perhaps then Stadler realized that this could only have been the prototype that Dagny Taggart had asked him about.
When John Galt had finished speaking, Dagny Taggart raised her voice, telling the assembled officials to "give up and get out of the way" and "leave men free to exist." Stadler knew then that Dagny Taggart was actively in league with John Galt. He also was very much afraid of the fate that John Galt had in store for him and for the government he served, though he had long since allowed his ability to think that problem through to atrophy from disuse.
So instead of delivering a thoughtful reply, he cried out, "Don't listen to her!"
Dagny Taggart repeated her admonition and left the Garden. Stadler then turned to Mr. Thompson and actually called him a "bloody fool," saying that John Galt was manifestly guilty of treason, and that Dagny Taggart was in league with him. Stadler spoke bluntly: John Galt needed to be taken and executed.
Thompson ordered that Dagny Taggart be placed under covert surveillance. But he would not accede to any order for Galt's execution. The Head of State actually thought he could negotiate a deal with John Galt and induce him to "sell out" those who had followed him on his strike of the men of the mind, as he had called it. Stadler knew better: that not only would John Galt never sell anyone out, but also—and more direly—John Galt was their implacable enemy.
Stadler v. Galt
On February 22, 2020, the authorities were indeed able to capture John Galt. Dagny Taggart was involved in that capture, and was widely quoted as saying that she had assisted in his capture because he was inevitably out to destroy her railroad (the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad) and would do so unless she acted to stop him forcibly. But one may safely infer that Robert Stadler did not believe a word she said, and considered John Galt far more dangerous than anyone was willing to admit.
And so he was surprised, and even terrified, when Mr. Thompson summoned him to New York's Wayne-Falkland Hotel, where John Galt was being held in the penthouse suite. Mr. Thompson said that John Galt had actually told him that he wished to see Stadler.
On March 17, 2020, guards ushered Stadler in to the penthouse suite. He saw John Galt sitting casually on the sill of one of the windows. John Galt said nothing; he simply looked at Stadler. And then Stadler, unable to contain himself, began to talk, or rather, to babble disconnectedly. He talked about wanting and needing a laboratory, he talked about who it actually was who set the rules of the games of life and politics, and he said a great deal about "living and working in the real world." And as he talked, he realized instinctively that he was making no impression on Galt, except to make Galt more implacably cold toward him than ever.
Finally Stadler blurted out that Galt was the one who had to be destroyed. As soon as he said that, he tried to take it back. But Galt said,
|“||You have said everything that I wanted to say to you.||”|
Stadler rushed to the door, raised his doubled-up fists, and banged on the door until Mr. Thompson's guards let him out.
He would never see John Galt again, nor did he want to. He frantically shouted that he could not deal with Galt, and neither could Mr. Thompson or any member of his gang. That's when Mr. Thompson threatened to hold him hostage against Galt's cooperation.
Stadler didn't stick around after hearing that. He left New York immediately, before Mr. Thompson or anyone else had a clue to where he was going.
Robert Stadler jumped into his automobile and drove across country, toward Iowa and Harmony City. As he drove, he heard that the authorities had managed to negotiate with Galt, and that those negotiations had produced "The John Galt Plan," which they would announce at an upcoming broadcast from the grand ballroom of the Wayne-Falkland. Stadler tuned this program in, but even before John Galt said, "Get...out of my way," and the broadcast was cut off, Stadler knew how it would end.
Stadler drove on, muttering to himself, "I'll show them. I'll show them." He was going to seize control of Project X and rule the area of its influence as his private feudal domain. He had no plan in mind of how to make this happen, other than to walk into Harmony City, drop his name, and start barking out orders.
He arrived at Harmony City on March 20, to find it occupied by the sort of persons, commonly called "goons," with whom he had never before had the misfortune to deal. In a blustering, imperious tone, he demanded entry and was admitted. He would repeat his name, thinking that his name alone would open doors for him. Yet no one seemed to know his name, a situation that angered him. At every step, he found himself demanding to see the next higher person in command, and kept trying to assert his own authority:
|“||I'm the boss around here. I give the orders. I'm Dr. Robert Stadler, and if you don't know that name in this place, you've got no business being here.||”|
Then it hit him: these men had taken the project over for themselves! Incredulous, he asked sarcastically whether these untrained and uneducated men actually thought that they could "handle a high-precision instrument of science." Then he demanded to see the leader of what he now regarded as he would any gang of robbers or burglars.
The leader turned out to be Cuffy Meigs, whom Stadler knew to be a thoroughly corrupt functionary, famous for enriching himself while holding such posts as Director of Railroad Unification. Stadler found Meigs in the central control room of the Xylophone. Meigs was obviously drunk, almost too drunk to stand, and was barking out instructions for proclamations and tax demands as Stadler burst in.
Stadler still tried to play on the strength of his name, and imperiously demanded of Meigs what he thought he was doing, and what he was doing in that place. Meigs scoffed at Stadler, at least when he could concentrate on him. What appalled Stadler even more was when Meigs would sway about and then grab a control lever to steady himself. Stadler blurted out, "Don't touch those levers, you fool." This at first made Meigs recoil from the levers, but then made him roar out defiantly that he now owned the Xylophone and could do with it as he pleased. Stadler tried to assert his own ownership over the Xylophone, saying that he had "invented" and "created" it and "made it possible." Meigs sarcastically "thanked" him and said that he had his own mechanics.
Stadler was even more appalled. As he spoke, he realized that he had sold his soul, and also realized that Cuffy Meigs was, in essence, here to collect it. In a last gesture of defiance, Stadler roared at Meigs not to touch the levers and tried to push him away from them. Meigs knocked Stadler down and then yanked a lever at random.
The result was catastrophic. The Xylophone, activated at full gain, destroyed itself, its own blockhouse, Stadler, Meigs, Meigs' crew, Harmony City, and every structure within a hundred miles. This included the flattening of Des Moines and Fort Dodge in Iowa, Austin, Minnesota, Woodman, Wisconsin, and Rock Island, Illinois. Stadler would never know it, but every man, woman and child in that radius was killed almost instantly—and, worst of all, the sound-ray effect cut the Taggart Bridge across the Mississippi River in half and turned the engine and the first six cars of a passenger train, crew, passengers, and all, into a shower of sparks.
Robert Stadler survived the initial blast, only to die in agony within about five minutes.
Spoilers end here.
Robert Stadler is a distinctly minor villain. His more important function is as an allegorical type of every scientist who convinces himself that he can best serve the "cause of science" by securing a "stable" source of grant moneys, and is not loath to accept government grants. Such grants often come at a price, and the price, according to Rand, is the scientist's soul. When the government funds something, that something becomes politicized.
We see this in the United States today, whenever Barack Obama speaks of "putting science back in its rightful place" by providing unlimited and unrestricted federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, for example. But Ayn Rand had a more dire fear: that science in the hands of the government could and probably would inevitably find itself used in the service of tyranny, and the creation of weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, Robert Stadler is another type: of the university professor, with professor values to match. True, he did not have a full faculty appointment while at the Institute. At best, he was an adjunct professor at nearby Dartmouth College. But a professor is a professor, and professor values are professor values.
Perhaps the most important thing that motivates Robert Stadler is revenge. Rand does not lay out the social context of Stadler's early schooling. But clues to that context abound. He "ha[s] no talent or taste for dealing with people." As a corollary to this, he has no friends. He accepts accelerated schooling, and publishes his seminal work while very young. His great achievement is in a purely abstract area of science, for which most people see no practical application—though Floyd Ferris sees such an application, and develops it to its chilling fullest. Finally, the Institute itself is not so much a laboratory as a temple—the Temple of Robert Stadler, though he takes pains to show off how modest his office is (nothing but a cheap desk, a filing cabinet, two chairs, and a chalkboard).
This is the profile of the classic nerd. One might logically suppose that the "jocks" in his high school routinely crammed him into a locker in the dressing room of the school's gymnasium. From that experience, and from the failure of the school faculty and administration to intervene effectively, came a desire for two things:
- Isolation from the "great unwashed," the hoi polloi (Greek for "the many"), the blobs of humanity whose concerns never interested him in the slightest.
- Revenge against those who tormented him before he reached college.
Stadler's incoherent babblings to John Galt in New York, before he dashes off to Dunkertown to take over Project X, reveal what he really thinks about people: "bloody, grubbing pigs!" He is ostensibly talking about Mr. Thompson and his cronies. He is actually talking about all people, in or out of government and politics. He makes no distinction, in short, between an Orren Boyle and a Hank Rearden. To Stadler, they're all alike. And that is why, when he realizes that he must flee, he decides to seize Project X and take the ultimate revenge.
Little does he realize that someone else might have the same idea. And once he sees that someone else in action, he convinces himself that his science alone can triumph over him, because he knows how to operate the Xylophone effectively and the other person doesn't. (That the Xylophone would have such a ridiculously complex control system is further testimony to a technocrat's preference for secret formulas and procedures over "user friendship.") Stadler might also be seeing more than "his final product": he is seeing the same sort of "jock" who used to stuff him into a locker in the gymnasium. Now he tries to fight back, and he is worse than too late. The fight ends by destroying them both.
Finally, Ayn Rand saw the apparent dichotomy between "pure" and "applied" science as a false one, and suggested that if any principle of science could be valuable to man, then some private individual or group would be willing to fund it. Robert Stadler is a type of any scientist who fails to realize that, who thinks that private funding is somehow dishonorable merely because it is private, and furthermore, that applied science is somehow dishonorable because it is applied to the problems that real human beings deal with every day. Such a person very often forgets that public funding can often lead to the creation of instruments of tyranny and death, because after all, the government is that institution having a monopoly on the initiation of force. But before that, he also forgets, or never learns, that trade is the correct basis for human relationships, and that he does have something to trade.
John Galt provides a direct contrast to Robert Stadler. Galt keeps and runs his own laboratory, at his own expense. He does have friends, because he understands trade as a basis for friendship. (Galt's friendships have their basis in value for value. His is not the crass "favor-for-favor" basis that James Taggart, Orren Boyle, and Mr. Thompson use.) And when John Galt builds a temple—specifically, the blockhouse that houses the electrostatic powerplant for Galt's Gulch—his is a modest structure that offers a great benefit. In return, it demands, not worship of a man, but respect between and among all who wish to take part.
John Galt also shares his science in one of two ways:
- He publishes his discoveries for a price in the form of lectures to industrialists who could use his discoveries in their own industries. So naturally Galt turns his research to questions that might have a practical application. In a society much larger than Galt's Gulch, Galt would publish and sell a journal for the same readership.
- He is also an inventor. An inventor must grasp not only a principle of abstract science, but also a way to make that principle concretely useful. Thomas Edison understood that, and so did Benjamin Franklin. Edison especially worked out a way to offer people things of value, to help fund other projects that turned out to have even greater importance.
(This illustrates another serious problem with scientific research today. No scientist, who has published anything for commercial sale, may publish the same research in any "peer-reviewed" journal. Walter T. Brown, of the Center for scientific Creation, has this very problem with his own work. Thus the mind-body dichotomy rears its ugly head, even in editorial decision-making.)
John Galt never understands Robert Stadler fully. But he rightly concludes that Robert Stadler is beyond any effort by Galt or his fellow strikers to "reclaim him." Galt believes that Stadler mooches from the taxpayer in a way that allows tyrants to use his work to further their tyranny. Even Galt never sees that, in the end, Stadler tries to become a tyrant himself.
Ayn Rand also made a minor point, and a scathing one, against scientists who try to get their way through name-dropping. In virtually any Western country, untold numbers of scientific institutions, and especially hospitals and various lecture and laboratory halls in medical schools, often sell or offer to a "prominent" physician or a member of the "generous community" the privilege of having his or her name on a building wing and his or her portrait in oil in the hallway. Indeed, many such institutions build veritable shrines to such people. While some of these people deserve some recognition for some extraordinary discovery (like the techniques of aortic aneurysmal repair and other even more breathtaking techniques of cardiovascular surgery developed by Michael E. DeBakey), or even for years of service, other such people win this recognition merely by paying for it. Ayn Rand perhaps sought to illustrate what would happen when an institution, ostensibly dedicated to science, might be taken over by a group of people who would not respect the owner of that name. In such a situation, all the name-dropping that the person could do would avail him nothing.